Hanbat Korean Restaurant Box Hill

DSC01342-1

 

Hanbat Korean Restaurant recently opened its doors in Box Hill, in the predominantly Korean side of town (on Bank Street). According to the owners, Hanbat is from a famous franchise in Korea. Only doors down you can find Yami Yami and Korean BBQ as well as a Korean grocery store and hairdresser. It seems like the Korean community is certainly growing in Box Hill, much to my liking!

I love Don-Udon‘s Jap Chae and that’s the standard I will uphold all other restaurants too. Here the Jap Chae just lacks that oomph in flavour, as well as being overly wet. It beats Crunch Box but no where near as delicious as Don-Udon.

DSC01344-1

 

Their Pork Bulgogi isn’t too bad either, but again I find the flavour just lacking a tiny bit compared with the other Korean eateries around.

DSC01348-1

 

Their Hot Stone Bibimbap adds numerous fresh ingredients, and with the chilli sauce gives it the much needed kick. My only negative is probably the egg being slightly overcooked.

DSC01354-1Hanbat’s Spicy Seafood and Tofu soup again isn’t my favourite, that award lies with By Korea in Richmond but taste wise it’s actually quite decent with the soft tofu and flavoursome soup base. Nothing to write home about but again I’d say a good dish.

Impressions

Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with the quality of the dishes served here. Which is unfortunate as you never want to dine at a place that disappoints and I want restaurants to succeed. However, it seems the food aren’t up to the standard of Yami Yami or Don-Udon in the area. I’m just hoping we were just unlucky and didn’t select their standout dishes.

 

Guu Sakabar – Toronto Series

IMG_2404

 Guu Sakabar definitely has an interesting atmosphere and if you haven’t dined at one of Guu’s locations in Vancouver or in Toronto, you may be surprised as you walk in. For all guests that arrive, you are warmly greeted with cheers from the employees as well as when you exit. So it can get quite noisy on a busy night but that’s all part of the charm.

Guu offers a Japanese-tapas style menu some options having a bit of Korean influences. What I like about tapas menus is that it’s great for sharing and trying a bit of everything from the menu.

IMG_2420

The Okonomiyaki here is deep fried with squid tonkatsu sauce and karashi mayonnaise. I haven’t tried a deep fried Japanese pancake before as I only have found the pan fried variation in Melbourne (Australia) before, however the pancake certainly left an impression on me.

IMG_2414IMG_2418

Probably my favourite dish was Guu’s Kinoko Bibimbap in a stone pot.With mushrooms, cheese and a seaweed sauce, the combination of flavours worked a treat together. Packed full of flavour, can’t go wrong with it and even for me who would prefer not to have mushrooms in anything!

IMG_2413

You can’t leave Guu without trying their drinks, however being a non-local and wanting to do a tapas drinks, we ordered the Sake Sampler that came with 6 different types of sake. As a non-expert in Sake, I can’t really offer my opinions on them but the cloudy ones were more memorable than the rest for sure.

Guu also offer Japanese Vodka, Beers, Wines and Cocktails and your non-alcoholic beverages as well.

Impressions

Guu is definitely for those seeking a good night out with friends and/or family and the atmosphere at Guu allows for that. Food-wise, most of what we tried was great, but on the smaller side of things.  Though, I certainly hope a restaurant like this pops up in Melbourne to enjoy.

Guu Sakabar on Urbanspoon

Guu – Sakabar

559 Bloor St W
Toronto ON M5S1Y6

Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu – Toronto Series

IMG_2255

When we visited Korea Town, I was amazed at how expansive it was and compared to our China Town in Melbourne, which is our largest Asian inner-city district, I loved walking down the streets of this bustling community, but I digress. My sister and her partner recommended we try this place out, and it seemed to be a local favourite. What Buk Chang Dong is known for is their Korean Tofu stews, served with a complimentary assortment of Korean pickled dishes and what seems like an unlimited supply of this Korean mixed grain rice that has this purple tinge to go with the stews.

While Buk Chang Dong primarily serves stews (soups), they also offer Stone Pot Bibimbap, Bukbegi Bulgogi and Broiled BBQ (Beef) among their wide selection of stews such as Beef, Seafood, and Kimchi stews. Not only this but you can select your preferred spiciness from the weakest “white” to the the extra spicy. I’ve always liked a spicy meter for restaurants just suited for your own liking.

We ordered the Broiled BBQ (Beef) which they certainly know how to do it well, steaming hot and marinated well. How a sizzling hot plate should be.

IMG_2249IMG_2253

Their sides also come with eggs to crack into your soup once it arrives, this is so the eggs aren’t already cooked once they arrive on your table because the soups are definitely hot to the touch.

IMG_2258

The Seafood Soon Tofu + Dolsotbab which contains oysters, prawns and mussels and pretty much all their soup dishes are absolutely delicious. Spicy, rich in flavour from the ingredients used to the stock all add to the depth of flavours and having this with the “purple rice” is just the best thing on a cold day.

Impressions

Buk Chang Dong excel in their stews and it’s evident why this place is a favourite amongst the locals. Why, I’d even make a special trip to Korea Town if I was in Toronto just to have another meal. If only I could find a place that does it so well in Melbourne.

Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu on Urbanspoon

Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu
691 Bloor St W
Toronto ON M6G

Woo Ga Korean BBQ Restaurant

DSC00810

Woo Ga Korean BBQ Restaurant is situated on Victoria St, North Melbourne, quite close by to the Queen Victoria Market and along a stretch of a few Korean restaurants. Korean BBQ restaurants are aplenty in Melbourne and I’ve mentioned ChangGo previously which is probably one of the most popular Korean eateries in the CBD.

DSC00800

We ordered the Combo B which is for 3-4 people/serves ($68) which comes with the pickled onions, bean sprouts and kimchi as starters. The sweet onions are really nice and flavourful, I’m not sure what they use to marinate it but it’s very refreshing. Combo B is beef heavy, and it comes with Premium Wagyu Chuck Eye Roll, “Top Grade” Beef Rib, marinated Beef Flank, Beef seasoned with salt and pepper and lastly Kimchi & Pork Spicy Soup.

DSC00797

 The cabbage and carrots salad is super crunchy, and it has a light dressing that adds some flavour to it too.

DSC00807

Combo B is all beef so those that may not be so fond of everything beef, you may opt for some pork as extra. The beef is very tender and can cook very quickly once it’s on the heat, so be aware to move it away or turn it over so the beef isn’t overcooked. It’s like your very own cooking class.

DSC00806

This cut of beef is marinated with some onions and I actually quite like this cut/seasoning. Thin pieces of beef

DSC00805

Beef Flank was probably my least favourite cut, as it can be a bit tough when cook (and if overcooked)
DSC00803DSC00801

Most of the cooking is DIY and the staff do switch the hot plates for different cuts of meat but I found it took longer for the meat to cook as it had to keep heating up the room temperature plates.

DSC00802

The Spicy Kimchi and Pork soup was again delicious with fresh mushrooms, spring onions, mushrooms and soft tofu.

DSC00809

The Korean seafood pancake was delicious, albeit a bit oily and very filling. The sweet and salty sauce they add on top along with the crispy outside makes for a great dish on a cold day (Not included in Combo B)

Impressions

Woo Ga does Korean food well but on a busy night, service may be a bit lacking as we had to request some things twice or it took quite a while for them to get back to us which does leave you a bit disappointed even if the food is great. I found ChangGo to be the better one of the two, better tasting soup and meat (although I am comparing beef to pork) and similar chaotic service.

Wooga Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

Woo Ga Korean Restaurant

270 Victoria St
North Melbourne VIC

ChangGo

DSC00688

Melbourne is abuzz for ChangGo, one of the many Korean BBQ restaurants that have appeared in our city in recent years. The waits can be excruciatingly long and the waiting system is basically taking a ticket and writing your name down on the list and you just wait around the venue listening for your name to be called out. I guess you must suffer a bit to be able to enjoy their food.

One of ChangGo’s specialties on their menu is their 8 ways marinated Pork Belly which consist of wine, original, ginseng, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste and hot flavoured Pork Belly. For a group of two to three, the amount of pork on offer here seems to suffice. With the Pork Belly, they provide Kim Chi, an assortment of vegetables, and a spicy Seafood soup.

DSC00684DSC00685

At night, the place can be packed and the staff are definitely challenged in assisting everyone with their cooking. So basically, it’s DIY BBQ.

DSC00687DSC00691DSC00690

The Pork Belly they provide you is on the fattier side of pork that I’ve come across but nonetheless the flavours offered are varied. The Garlic, Herb and Hot marinated Pork Belly’s were probably my favourite ones because they were flavourful but let the pork shine too.

DSC00689

The Spicy Seafood soup here is wonderfully tasty and best on a cold winter’s day. Not too spicy but enough to tingle your tastebuds and the soup base is exceptionally satisfying.

Impressions

ChangGo does Korean barbeque well, apart from the overly fatty Pork Belly that is. Flavours are overall tasty and for $60 (for the 8 Ways Pork Belly), I find it great value for money. Once you dine here you can see why the waits during peak times can exceed 30 mins. I’d definitely recommend dining here if you feel like some charred meats.

ChangGo on Urbanspoon

ChangGo
70 Little La Trobe St
Melbourne VIC 3000

By Korea Richmond

IMG_0513

By Korea on the bustling Victoria St may get overlooked by many passing by but it certainly is a pleasant and enjoyable dining experience. From the outside of By Korea, you might not even know it’s open but don’t fret it is open for Lunch and Dinner. The decor inside is wonderful, fusing the traditional Korean with industrial style.

By Korea offers most of the usual Korean staples such as stone pot soups, Bibimbap, and of course BBQ. Being a fan of the Korean Spicy Seafood Tofu Soup served in Stone Hot Pot with Rice I had to order it here.

The soup here is definitely spicy and I love it, and with the addition of fresh seafood (shrimp, clams) and a generous offering of soft tofu it is a treat to eat. My only concern is the graininess of the clams itself but that didn’t detract too much from the flavour of the soup.

IMG_0512

The Sweet Chilli Fried Chicken is also another tasty delight. Korean food does lean towards being sweet more often than not, and this doesn’t stray too far from the norm. Wonderfully crisp, with added sweetness and topped with a sunny side egg.

IMG_0510The Beef Bulgogi is another winner and very generous with their servings. The Beef is tender and juicy with both sweetness and spiciness, served with sunny side egg, salad and Kimchi.

Impressions

I’m uncertain why By Korea doesn’t have the same popularity as another Korean restaurant only minutes down the road (Seoul Soul), even though I find the food to be better for value and tastier here. Plus, for Lunch you receive tea and a free soft drink as a bonus. I do recommend giving By Korea a try, it definitely shines amongst the plethora of eateries on Victoria St, Richmond.

 

By Korea on Urbanspoon

By Korea

5/240 Victoria St
Richmond VIC 3121

Pocha Korean Restaurant – Vancouver Series

IMG_4020

We actually stumbled upon Pocha Restaurant as we initially wanted to dine at the Thai restaurant next door but being such a petite space, it was unfortunately full. Luckily enough we looked next door and saw this Korean restaurant opened. From the outside, Pocha didn’t really seem open. It was very dark inside, and no signs it was open. Somehow being desperate for some place to dine we walked in and found this very interesting restaurant. There is a long walkway with each side having this little covered/tent-like dining spaces. It looked like you were in some sort of food market and these were the outside tents to eat in, but somewhat private.

The menu was slightly on the pricer side of things, and we didn’t really know what to order. We ended up ordering meal combo, choosing from the four dishes (you can select two). We ordered the spicy pork bulgogi (pictured above). Lovely flavours, subtle spiciness and a tad sweet marinated pork cooked with onions and carrots. Although, it was on the oilier side of things. It was very tasty.

IMG_4022

The other beef dish was also nicely cooked, and again with onions and carrots. Meat just cooked right but I preferred if they used less sugar on the sauce/marinade. Not too exciting but it’s still satisfying.

IMG_4019

The tofu soup was very light in flavour or seasoning but with the more robust flavours from the two meat dishes I think it complements each other well.

IMG_4012

It also comes with a salad that is dressed with a vinaigrette. Very strong dressing and with the lettuce in large chunks, it was more difficult to eat. I would have liked the Korean/Japanese sesame seed dressing that is creamier and light brown in colour.

Impressions

Overall, I didn’t mind Pocha Restaurant. It’s not the best Korean food I’ve tried but not the worst. The quaint dining atmosphere is certainly a plus, along with the food.  Good service too on that quiet Tuesday night.

Pocha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Pocha Restaurant

1221 Thurlow St
Vancouver BC V6E

Don-Udon

IMG_0476

Don-Udon recently opened in Box Hill and joins the other Korean restaurants now established in Box Hill along. I’m guessing there is a sizeable Korean community here as there are also many grocery stores around too. Unlike the Box Hill Korean BBQ, Don-Udon doesn’t offer BBQ but they have plans to do hot pot in the winter months.

Currently they offer a great selection of Korean and even a few Japanese dishes ranging from Udon noodle soup, Stir Fried Udon dishes, Ramen, Korean and Japanese rice dishes and even a few sizzling and clay pot dishes for something a bit different.

IMG_0478

We ordered the Bibim Bap in Stone Pot that is served scolding hot. It comes with beef, vegetables and fried egg with Korean chilli paste on rice. The stone pot retains heat remarkably well so if you’re ordering, it’s best to not touch the bowl. I love clay pot/stone pot dishes as the rice cooks and turns into this crunchy delight. All the ingredients here are fresh and especially tasty with the slightly sweet beef. A really nice, light dish.

IMG_0479Don-Udon also offers soups in clay pot. I think Korean soups with rice are one of my favourite type of dishes. I could really have warm, spicy soup with rice all day, everyday. The soup here is a Seafood Silken Tofu Soup (Spicy) with mixed seafood, vegetables and of course silken tofu. I loved the flavour of this soup, it’s spicy enough if you consume all of the soup and it’s basically like this gradual hotness that lingers throughout the meal. Very satisfying. The seafood here are basically a couple of small (very) prawns but the tofu is the main protein here. Although the soup is a tad oily, I loved the soup all the same.

IMG_0480

The Donkatsu Udon is your typical Japanese dish with crispy deep fried pork, with a clear stock soup. Subtle flavours from the soup and maybe a bit of Togarashi just adds a bit of spice to give it a bit more seasoning. A pleasant dish that even betters Ajisen Ramen in Box Hill.

Impressions

Don-Udon is my go-to Korean eatery in Box Hill. Flavours hit the mark, friendly staff and all for a decent (the standard) price. It’s just a bit of a shame that this restaurant isn’t more frequented by customers. It’s slightly out of the way, a few minutes walk from the main shopping hub in Box Hill but close by to the tram stop and the many Computer Gaming places. I’d say it’s definitely worth the small effort to visit.

Don-Udon on Urbanspoon

Don-Udon

951 Whitehorse Road
Box Hill VIC 3128

Opens for Lunch and Dinner

Box Hill Korean BBQ

IMG_0361

Box Hill Korean BBQ is near the hub of Box Hill. You may notice there are a couple of Korean grocery stores and restaurants in Box Hill probably to the small but sizeable Korean community around these parts. I love Korean food, because it’s slightly familiar to the South East and Japanese and yet still different and new.

In the image above, I mistakenly ordered an entree which I thought was a full meal. This dish is called Tteokbokki/dukboki/topokki which is basically these rice cake strips which look like noodles stir fried in a (usually) spicy sauce with carrots and onions. What I like about it is that it’s actually quite filling because it’s rice cakes and these “noodles” are dense and have a bit of chewiness to it. Here, there is minimal sauce but it’s very spicy and concentrated. Although it’s an entree it’s filling but as it is the same price as a normal regular lunch dish, I don’t think it’s worth it. You can also easily make this by yourself, all you need is to go to a Korean grocery store (there is one nearby) buy a fresh packet of the noodles and a packet of the sauce and stir fry it. Very easy.

IMG_0359IMG_0358

The beef stir fry with salad and rice dish is similar to a bento and comes with the standard Korean condiments like kimchi and seasoned bean sprouts. The beef is sweetly seasoned but still has a bit of saltiness to it, the carrots, onions, capsicums and bean sprouts add a much needed freshness to the dish. It’s nice, but nothing special.

IMG_0356 IMG_0355

The chicken stir fry is similar to the beef dish, sweet and not enough saltiness or spiciness. Chicken was also a tad overcooked, it doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Dae Jang Geum does these dishes much better. The miso soup also came out lukewarm to almost cold. Very disappointing

Impressions

We were left disappointed with the meals we had after having really great food at Dae Jang Geum. The service here is also bare minimum, and took at least 15 minutes to receive our food that was a bit cold. Hmm. The complementary sides with the two rice dishes are also very small and unlike the Dae Jang Geum which is generous. Maybe the dinner or BBQ is better? I don’t know, but I’m not enthused to try it again.

Box Hill Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Box Hill Korean BBQ
1 Bank St
Box Hill VIC 3128

 

Seoul Soul

IMG_0330

Seoul Soul, can easily be missed by passers-by. It is this extremely tiny restaurant, almost hidden on the always populated Victoria Street, Richmond, near The Hive Shopping Centre. In between The Hive SC entrance and a corner cafe, you’ll find this little gem. Only housing less than 20 people, it is always popular inside and waiting around lunchtime is common.

As you may have guessed from the name, Seoul Soul serve Korean cuisine from their most commonly known dishes such as Bulgogi, but also the more obscure and spicy dishes. Typically, they also do BBQ/grills so it really caters for most.

I’ve previously had the Spicy Tofu bulgogi and that was a delight to eat. It comes with stir fried tofu with a spicy sauce, salad and oddly enough a slice of orange. You’ll find this is common for most of the bulgogi’s served. The spiciness of the sauce is fantastic but isn’t too spicy, just enough to give the always bland tofu some flavour and kick.

The salad is very similar to the Japanese salad dressing you can buy in Asian supermarkets, it has that slightly sesame taste to it. I really do love this dressing so it’s always appetising.

You might be saying, Denny, what is that delicious dish you ordered that is pictured. Well, my friends, this is their Special Stone Pot Bibimbap. It comes super sizzling hot and crackles with delight as it’s served. It’s primarily a vegetarian dish with the bean sprouts, carrots, beans and capsicum. There are a couple of stone pot bibimbaps, prawn and beef. I’m uncertain if there was a stone pot vegie bibimbap but it doesn’t seem out of plausibility.

I ordered the beef, which comes with minced beef and cannot currently be seen as it sits underneath that sunny side up egg. The yolk that oozes out just binds everything together. It is simply a refreshing and satisfying meal.

Impressions 

Seoul Soul is quite a treat if you can get a table. Well presented food but leaning on the pricier side of things but it’s okay here because the  food here is tasty and doesn’t disappoint.

Seoul Soul on Urbanspoon

Seoul Soul
323 Victoria St
Abbotsford VIC 3067