Donwoori – Korean BBQ
Following on from the previous post on a splash out haute cuisine, todays will strike a stark contrast with an evening at a bargain Korean BBQ in Melbourne. They are worlds apart in price, dining experience, and fussiness of food, yet they can be just as satisfying.
Whilst shoebox sized and poorly publicised, compared with the neighbouring Victoria Street Korean places, Donwoori is in fact a personal favourite amongst many bloggers. It has been on my wishlist for quite some time now, having accidently turned up when they were closed (lunchtime) and another time when it was completely full-house.
The poor ventilation is immediately apparent when you throw the door open. So looking forward to take-away’ing the smoke on your clothes. Food wise, there is a choice between quite well priced set menus or al a carte. Between six people we went for the Pork set menu (Set C $38) and the beef set menu (Set B $64).
Before the BBQ began, we were presented with the Banchan – a never ending supply of tasty pickled vegetables, kimchi and pickled daikon. Not to mention shredded spring onion with soy bean paste [pictured above] to accompany the meat. These are made in house everyday.
First up the Beef set menu, which consisted of top grade beef rib [pictured above], top side beef (with salt and pepper), marinated flank beef, scotch fillet, kimchi hot pot and rice x 4.
Clockwise: Beef rib, kimchi, scotch fillet, marinated flank beef.
The meat was well selected and generous in quantity for the price paid. And the burning coal certainly helped bring out the necessary smoky aroma and charring. The waiters do try and do the cooking and cutting for you, but occasionally they can get overworked and forget to keep a close eye on the meat. I like how they change the hotplate when things start to burn on onto it.
Apparently according to OfftheSpork underneath the bucket of coals was a gas burner to keep the heat up, which I did not even notice. Clearly I was too distracted by the intermittent billowing of smoke…
Top down: Seafood pancake, scotch fillet, marinated flank beef, soybean paste stew.
Of course, we also ordered a couple of seafood pancakes on the side, which were very succulent (if one can use that term to describe the pancake) and pillowy. It was certainly one of the nicer renditions around.
We had two stews as part of the set menus. The kimchi stew was mildly spicy and full of silken tofu, clams and beef. The soybean paste stew [pictured above] had a bounty of cabbage, tofu, mushrooms and rice cakes – a little salty, sour and spicy.
The Pork set menu was made up of Pork belly, flank pork, pork neck, soybean paste stew, rice x 2.
The pork neck was a little chewy and mildly cartilaginous, one of my favourite cuts of pork. The pork belly required some rendering down and caramelising on the rounded hotplate – juicy and fattening!
Rating: Yummy+0.5. Though Donwoori is an incredibly small smoky space, this is easily compensated by the friendliness provided, decent cuts of meat and reasonably priced BBQ (around $20 per head). The popularity and difficulty of getting a table at this place certainly attests to it being one of the better Korean BBQ’s in Melbourne.
Where: 276 Victoria St, Nth Melbourne
When: daily for dinner service.
Contact: no number available.
Reservation: none. So come early and cross your fingers you’ll get a table. Also it is a small place, so don’t come in a large group.