Gukbab

Gukbab literally means soup with rice, which is a way that some Korean stews are meant to be had, by mixing the rice through the soup and eating the whole thing together, almost like an instant version of congee. I had the dish a few times when I travelled to Korea (blog posts coming in March!), and was excited to see a restaurant in Melbourne that specialises in it.

It’s easy to miss the restaurant, with no clear signage and being scattered in the same building with a few other restaurants each with bigger signs. However, once you enter through the glass doors, the strong scent of sizzling bulgogi and Army stews will let you know that you’re in the right place.

Banchan

The free banchans consisted of a pasta salad, pickled onion, and your obligatory kimchi. Nothing out of the ordinary here, and they were all fun to munch on after we placed our order.

Kimchi Jiggae – $15.00

Despite there being plenty of soups and stews that were harder to find in other Korean restaurants, we ordered the classic kimchi jiggae on this occasion. I make kimchi jiggae quite often at home, especially during Winter, but this was definitely better than my homemade version. It had a great depth of flavour in the soup itself, that’s made up of more than just kimchi and gochujang, which made for a great base for the sweet potato noodle and pork in the stew.

Japchae – $16.00

Japchae is a common Korean dish that is essentially stir fried sweet potato noodle with thinly sliced veggies, including capsicum, carrots, black fungus, mushrooms and beef. The slippery sweet potato noodles were sweet and salty, with a strong sesame flavour from the ample use of sesame oil, a staple in Korean cuisine. Despite this being a quite pedestrian dish usually, I actually really enjoyed it.

Cheese Bukdak – $19.00

The fiery colour of the stir fried chicken caught our eyes first, and this was actually quite spicy. The chicken pieces were quite tender, and the cheese toned down the spiciness slightly. The strong spicy flavour meant that it was a great dish to have with a plain bowl of rice, but if you can’t handle a lot of heat, I’d say give this a miss, or be prepared to be drinking plenty of water after every bite.

Everything that we tried at Gukbab was quite authentic, and the restaurant is great for a bigger gathering, given the extensiveness of the menu, ranging from stews, fried chicken, bibimbab, hot plates and even bingsu!

The byu-dagi guk bab is said to be the signature dish of the restaurant, and I definitely look forward to trying it out on my next visit, just gotta wait until the 40 degrees days are over.

How to get here:
Gukbab is located on Little Lonsdale Street, just two minutes walk away from Flagstaff station.

GUKBAB Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Goodovening

Some food trends come and go, but Korean fried chicken is here to stay, and I’m all for it – nothing brings satisfaction to the table quite like a plate of greasy chicken.

While there are some promising restaurants that can always be counted on, I had wanted to try out Goodovening for a while now. The restaurant had been packed on the few times that I had walked past, so we made sure to book beforehand.

The outdoor seating area was reminiscent of restaurants scattered on the streets of Seoul, being slightly elevated, lit dimly and the tables are set under clear covers, which means diners can sit outside all year round.

Complimentary

I have no idea what these were, and it’s hard to describe the taste. They were sort of tasteless to be honest, and quite hard, but were fun to nibble on nonetheless. We finished chewing on these quickly actually, and the waitress was more than happy to bring us more without us having to ask.

Fried Chicken (16 pcs, half original and half soy garlic) – $34.00

Of course, we had to test out the benchmark first with some fried chicken. The batter looked promising, and indeed had that light airiness that I have become accustomed to. We chose soy garlic for the flavoured half, and although the chicken had less sauce on it than other places, they were sweet and tangy, and the crispy batter was not compromised at all.

The chicken came with a cabbage coleslaw and we also order some chips ($5.00) with it, because hey, if you’re going to be frying chicken then you might as well fry some potatoes on the side!

Hot Chilli Cheese Chicken & Rice Ball – $25.00

Cheese make any food taste better, and Koreans are known for putting cheese over absolutely everything. The spicy chicken pieces were very punchy and had a nice kick to it, and the cheese added some creaminess to the dish.

Hot Chilli Cheese Chicken & Rice Ball – $25.00

Although nothing out of the ordinary, these rice balls were adorable and fun to eat with the chicken, and also helped to tame down the spiciness when needed.

Carbonara Chicken – $35.00

We’ve gone all out at this point, so what’s one more chicken dish? Carbona chicken is exactly as it sounds; the pan was filled with boneless fried chicken, fries and cabbage, all served on top of a thick and creamy carbonara sauce. This was indulgent to say the least, with the crunchy chicken paired especially well with the richness of the sauce. We all thoroughly enjoyed each and every bite of this.

The dinner actually turned out to be a surprise birthday dinner for me, my friends had bought me my favourite cake from Bibelot, and it was a really enjoyable night for all of us. My friend had asked one of the waiter to put the cake in the fridge at the beginning of the meal, along with some candles. At the end of our meal, the same waiter came out and plopped the cake box in the middle of the table, without opening the box or clearing out our chicken bone filled plates first. I was so confused by this point, and my friend had to ask him to bring out the candles and a lighter in two separate attempts. I mean it was a little odd, but we all had a good laugh about it. It probably just came down to a matter of miscommunication, but I guess just make sure that you ask the waiter to bring out the cake more clearly if you were also celebrating a birthday?

We tried out three styles of chicken at Goodovening, and maybe that seems like a lot, but the extensive menu actually made it really difficult to narrow our choices down. I’m definitely looking forward to returning, although it’ll be hard to not order the Chicken Carbonara again, I will try to venture out and try out some of the other chicken dishes on offer.

How to get here:
Goodovening is located on Queen Street, get off at Flagstaff station and the restaurant is around seven minutes walk away.

Goodovening Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato