Crazy wing

177 Russell St, Melbourne CBD
Phone: 9663 6555

There seems to be a proliferation of new Chinese barbecue places in the last few months: Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen, Crazy Wing and a new Oriental BBQ joint in Footscray to name a few. They seem to be influenced by Northern Chinese cuisine, and the grilled goodies come out on skewers, usually rubbed with spice mixes that are heavy on the chilli and/or cumin. I’m all for them, because food is always better on a stick. Roasting a pig? Better on a spit.

@thatjessho, @eatnik, @eatnik’s cousin and I went to try out Crazy Wing recently, because not only is the place all about food on a stick, it’s about chicken wings on a stick. And if you don’t like chicken wings, there’s probably something wrong with you. Or you’re a vegetarian. Or both.

Crazy Wing runs similarly to a hotpot place. You’re presented with an order form at the table, on which you fill in the items you want. I’m fairly sure you can add to that later, but we were already a little greedy in our ordering, so there was no need to find out if that was an option.

We started off with some ‘blotch’ soup. That’s the other thing I love about these places. The translations are invariably hilarious. It was basically a vegetable and egg flower soup, with little lumps of dough in it. It sounds worse than it was. I wasn’t a huge fan – it tasted of nothing – but @eatnik quite liked it, and @thatjessho did not. It’s a pretty big bowl though – we syphoned it off into four little bowls – so it might actually be good for dousing flames. You’ll understand later.imageBecause we were all starving, we ordered some cold dishes, and true to expectation, they arrived at the table quickly. The cucumber with garlic was awesome. Very garlicky, but I think the sauce had been cooked and then cooled, because the garlic didn’t have an overly raw taste to it. Note to self: order more of this next time.imageWe hoed into the Chinese cabbage and chilli before I had a chance to take a photo, but that’s just a testament to how good it was. It’s essentially kim chi, but it was a bit sweeter, and had less of a vinegar flavour to it.imageThen the grilled stuff started to arrive. There’s a wooden tray in the middle of the table, and the waitresses walk around the restaurant clutching bundles of grilled stuff on skewers which they dump on the tray. It’s all very practical, and I’m sure it saves them a lot of washing up. The first items to hit the tray were tripe, chicken livers and enoki mushrooms wrapped in bean curd skin. Out of these, I’d go the chicken livers again, but the other two weren’t that great. Despite having had them at Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen and here, I’m still not sold on grilled enoki mushrooms. I much prefer them in soup or a stir fry. I feel they just end up a bit stringy when you grill them.imageThen came the grilled pork intestines. These were a-MAZ-ingly good. If you like offal, run, don’t walk, people. I mean if there’s an offal-on-a-stick Holy Grail, this is most likely it. The intestines were well seasoned, and grilled so they were just cooked; they were soft rather than chewy, and had a nice char to the outside.imageChicken hearts and chicken gizzards were next, which were alright, but a little dry and overcooked, I thought. imageThen came some calamari, which tasted good, but was a little rubbery. I think perhaps a thicker part of the squid would have been better?imageThen came the onslaught of wings. It was a Tuesday night, so the 2-for-1 deal – there’s a different one every night – was the Honey Spicy Wing. So we ordered four. Our original intention was that by ordering four, they’d charge us for two. Of course, they interpreted this as us ordering four, and so we got eight serves. With two wingettes in a serve, that was sixteen Honey Spicy chicken wings. Lucky they’re pretty great! I could eat these things for days. Oh yeah, there’s some grilled capsicum under there, too. It was a bit raw, which is to say, kind of gross.imageOf course, we had to try the signature ‘Crazy Wing’. I’d read that they were intolerably spicy, but of course, that sort of talk just egged us on. We ordered two serves, so we could each try one wing.image@eatnik’s cousin and Jess gave up after a single taste, it was that insanely – crazily – spicy. Jess labelled it “offensive”, and claimed to have seen God. I found them stupidly, uncomfortably, and insultingly hot, but funnily enough, the only thing which seemed to make it tolerable, was to eat more. I had run out of soya bean drink by then, you see. So I finished my wing, but I don’t think I’d eat another one soon, unless someone dared me to for money. Because putting things in my mouth for money is how I roll, right?imageSome grilled Chinese leeks and scallops with garlic also helped with the residual heat… as did grilled bread. Unfortunately, this wasn’t as soft, or sweet, as I was expecting. imageI’d definitely go back to Crazy Wing, not the least because there’s what seems to be a secret upstairs BBQ buffet. We couldn’t figure out if it was just a staff dining room, or if there was a Crazy Wing club that you could be initiated into – presumably by eating multiple Crazy Wings – before you were allowed to grill your own stuff-on-a-stick.imageOh yeah, I almost forgot. Don’t bother about the eggplant. It’s worse than the capsicum.

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Seoulia Korean BBQ Buffet!

980 Whitehorse Rd
Box Hill
Phone: 9899 2696

It was my mother’s birthday yesterday, so the family decided to go out for dinner together. Now, being of a migrant working class come small business owner heritage, my family tends to eschew fancy expensive restaurants in favour of flavour and reasonable prices. And we’re certainly no strangers to buffets nor at-table cooking. Yet my parents were restauranteurs for over twenty years of their lives, so let’s just say they have certain standards. So when my sister suggested Korean BBQ, I was pretty sure we were on a winner. And when a little online research found Seoulia, I just knew we’d nailed it.

We arrived to find the place abuzz, but not full, with people sitting around massive boar-shaped grills, with lowered extraction fans not doing all that much to extract away the smell of grilling meats.

It wasn’t long before we’d loaded up our piggy with various bits of bulgogi, calamari and baby octopus as well.

Of course, we also grabbed some of the mountains of kim chi at the buffet.

Pro tips: the best things on offer are the beef bulgogi, and the marinated chicken giblets. Oh. My. God. I could eat those giblets all day. The chicken ribs are also good. And for those craving a little vegetable matter to go with so much animal flesh, there are mushrooms to grill, and it helps to grab lots of cucumber to munch while waiting for the meat to cook. Also, bulgogi is awesome when wrapped in lettuce (that might be my Vietnamese food heritage coming through).

When we were finally finished (and stuffed) with the meat, the waiters came and removed the massive steel boar plate, to reveal that it was in fact resting on three little mini cast-iron piggies. Too cute!

We cleansed our palates with copious orange slices and I had a cone with a scoop of chocolate ice cream – all included in the buffet!

The logistical details – Seoulia has two sittings per evening (each officially lasting for 1 1/2 hours, but with a two hour maximum, apparently – don’t worry, you’ll be well stuffed within an hour) and costs $26.50 per head ($29.50 on weekends, I think). You pay for everything in advance (including drinks – they have beer and soju, but I’m not sure abut wine) which felt a little funny, but I guess is generally how a buffet works. Oh, and there’s a $10 wastage fee if you don’t finish the meat you take from the buffet to your table, so don’t stock up on things in bulk, just make multiple trips. The tables were a little cramped, but the service was efficient.