Yami yami

1D Bank Street
Box Hill, 3128
9890 4588

Just off the bustle of Station Street, this little gem of a place provides a (relatively) bbq-fume-free alternative to the Korean BBQ next door. We are such frequent visitors at this small Korean owned Japanese-slash-Korean restaurant that: a) I totally forgot to take photos of the interior décor; b) the chain-smoker-boss provides us with extra attention, offering a non-stop supply of complimentary Korean pickle. I’m totally hopeless with Korean cuisine, so bare with me as I trundle through with the review…

First up: Mandoo (Korean dumplings). Enclosed by lightly golden-brown skin that is crispy to bite, is a moist filling of vegetables, pork (I think) and vermicelli, that goes agreeably with the sweet and slightly acidic soy-vinegar sauce.

Two servings of Agedashi tofu – were mandatory requests by Ms JH and Ms AL. The lightly battered tofu had a crispy coating covering a smooth-silken (and burn-your-tongue-hot) interior. Drizzled with mayonnaise, the very sweet and slightly savoury sauce (almost oyster sauce like) oozing down the sides just makes you want to drool. Note: generally agedashi tofu is served in a shallow broth of tentsuyu (tempura sauce), which is not served here – though I’m not sure I prefer the traditional soggy’er version.

Grilled unagi (eel) on hot plate – had a shimmering glaze of deep scarlet that offered a subtle syrupiness to the melt-in-your-mouth unagi.

Complimentary Korean pickle – they have a rotating list of refreshing and mildly acidic condiments – of diced potato, kimchi, beansprouts, cucumber, fishcakes (did I leave out any?) – that is generally refilled enthusiastically – otherwise a subtle gesture to waiter will suffice.

Ginseng chicken soup – this is my parents all time favourite dish here. It is served in a scalding ceramic pot of boiling chicken broth infused heavily with the stimulating aromas of Korean ginseng. The whole chicken barely bobbing out of the broth is both succulent and perfumed with ginseng, as is the stuffing of glutinous rice.

Ginseng – A herbal ingredient derived from the root of particular plants, was traditionally (and still widely now) used as a nourishing stimulant for the mind and body. I find it has similar (though slower onset) effect as caffeine in Chinese teas. And apparently Korean varieties have a higher “heat” quotient.


A staple item in Korean cuisine, Bimbimbap, is often a requisite order for the many local Korean diners. It is brought to the table in hot stone bowl with a petal-like arrangement of beef, mushrooms, crunchy pickled carrot & dashi, juicy cucumber, and a fried egg with a gooey yolk. The bowl continues to sizzle with heat, allowing a golden brown crust of rice to form at the bottom. To eat: add some of that lovely sweet sauce and chaotically mix it together and there you have a tasty concoction of bimbimbap.

Despite all my attempts at avoiding the bbq-fumed-clothes-which-stinks-for-days phenomenon, we still ended up ordering beef bulgogi. Sitting atop the hot plate, the tender beef continued to sizzle away, providing fragrant wafts from the marinade. Next time I’ll just rock up in “bum-clothes” that I am intending on washing…

Following a struggle last time (well mainly mum and sister) with the ‘two-chilli’ rating on the spicy squid, I thought that our new dining companions from Taiwan would be more spice-adept to help me finish it off this time – which I was partially right about (plus or minus some shovelling of rice to wash it down). The tender pieces of squid and chewy vermicelli were smeared in a thin coat of bright red sauce. All-in-all a good level of spice (for me at least), with a hot intensity that induced some healthy perspiration.

Rating: Yummy+0.5 – Despite my displeasure at how often we frequent this place, I still recommend it as very return worthy for some homely and fairly authentic Korean with splashes of Japanese.

[Thanks to Ms AL for attempting to foot the bill, but clearly my dad is far superior in this Asian-competing-for-the-bill business – 還是姜老的辣 =P]

See also: Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Yami Yami on Urbanspoon

10 Responses to “Yami yami”
  1. Playgirl says:

    “Bum-clothes” is funny. =P

    I appreciate that ya understand how the BBQ fume can affect others and provided a warning.

  2. I love Korean food and their spicy stuff! I’ll be putting up a post soon about a little Korean place (also with a little Japanese influence) too.

  3. libishski says:

    Ooh, this looks MAD!

    I’m going to try the bibimbap the next time I’m there. The agedashi tofu also look interesting. I think Yami Yami is the best Korean place I’ve been to, it’s such a shame that it doesn’t get enough coverage 😦

    P.S. Thanks for the mention!

  4. Katty-Kat says:

    I am not familiar with Korean cuisine at all, so this was very enlightening for me. All I know is Kim Chi and Korean BBQ, although the names ‘Bimbimbap’ and ‘Beef Bulgogi’ do seem to ring a bell of some sort.
    Are the Mandoo any different to the Japanese Gyoza? They are similar in appearance, thats for sure, except that I don’t think that Gyoza have vermicelli in it. You know in Turkish food they have a dumpling dish too which is called ‘Manti’, which I think sounds kind of similar to ‘Mandoo’ so maybe the 2 dishes were influenced by each other somehow. If you ever want to try Turkish food, there is a nice place called Nikosia on Glenferrie Rd, Malvern.
    Btw, I love grilled unagi and agedashi tofu. +1 🙂

  5. the banchan is so limited!

  6. leaf – nice ~!! can’t wait

    libishski – you should definitely ask michelle for korean recomendations…LOLz.

    Kat – its actually very different to jap gyoza, seems not as similar to the other asian dumplings. ooo manti, never had before – must try!

    michelle – you should make us some of your bimbambap =), since you’re so PRO!!! actually any recommendations (aside from your house) for korean???

  7. Ms JH says:

    Definitely my favourite restaurant to go to!!!! Flavours are always awesome. I’ve tried so many versions of the agedashi tofu in my time and I must say that this ranks as one of the best. Not featured here, but another of my favourites is the cold noodles + soup (with pear + kimchi). The flavours are nothing extravagant, but it is so refreshing and simple. I must recommend that people try this.

    Also, everytime we frequent Yami Yami, the place is full. Even on weekdays which says loads about the quality of the food and the loyalty of the fans.

    High recommended!!! If it were me, I’d give it Yummy +2 just because of longevity. Been there soooo many times, yet I still LOVE it everytime.

    • thats quite a high ranking your suggesting =P. seems that like me you’re a bigger fan of the “non-traditional” version of agedashi tofu LOLz.
      all thanks to DAD… kept complaining i was taking too many photos, i totally forgot to take one of the cold noodles GAH!!!
      and after all of that YOU FORGOT to click FB LIKE!!! LOLz

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yami Yami is absolutely one of my favorite restaurants, the food is absolutely delicious! I haven’t tried any of the Japanese food, but the Korean food is divine; the prawn cream sauce with kimchi rice is my favorite, followed by these spicy Korean noodles with fingers of ‘mochi’ mixed through. I love the spiciness of the food, it always reinvigorates me and almost detoxes me with its deliciously painful burn! 😉

    When my family and I go, it doesn’t seem to be too crowded, just comfortably occupied. The waiter/waitress is always friendly, and service is fast. I definitely recommend it!

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  • Food RATING scale

    Unpleasant: damn upset my desire to eat

    Average: palatable but many shortcomings

    Yummy: a pleasant experience

    Yummy +1: mouth-watering like rain

    Yummy +2: exquisite flavours that hit all the right notes

    Divine: sheer culinary perfection!

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