270 Victoria St, North Melbourne
Phone: 9328 1221

For those of you who are regular readers, you’ll know how much I love a Korean BBQ. So this will be the first of a series of three reviews of the North Melbourne Victoria Street mini-Seoul Korean BBQ restaurants.

I went to Woo-Ga recently with a friend, who is by my books an expert on Japanese food and culture, but surprisingly had never had Korean BBQ before! I mean surely the rules of geographic proximity mean you sample cuisines which exist near your object of cultural obsession, right? Anyway, I digress in a rather verbose way. More about the food!

We ordered the Combo Set A (which serves 2-3) and includes a big beef rib, scotch fillet, a spicy kim chi and tofu soup.

It also came with the obligatory kim chi side dishes, and rice, but the rice wasn’t mentioned in the set, so we foolishly also ordered the ‘healthy mixed rice’. This was pretty much a bi bim bap only with a less fatty cut of meat, I guess. Oh, and it was in a stainless steel bowl, instead of a stone one. I wonder if that makes it healthier? In any case, it was still tasty.

Woo-Ga’s pretty great value – especially if you order one of the combo sets – and any place where you cook at the table is going to be fun. I’ll definitely be going back, after I try its more popular neighbour Hallah, and revisit the cousin down the street, Toodouri. Penny from jeroxie.com also enjoyed her visit – see here for much better photos!

Wooga Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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.