Friday, March 14, 2014

Gangnam Pocha, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

When it comes to getting your nosh on for Korean, we’re pretty lucky in terms of choice.  I do love my bibimbap, the banchan, the grilled meats and delightfully chewy chap chae.  During the work week,  my two reliable Korean restaurants are Seoul Metro that’s located in a car park and Darac on A’Beckett Street.

Gangnam Pocha is another Korean restaurant which is located on Bourke St.  I think it opened around the time when Gangnam Style was going viral, and I thought that it was a bit faddish.  Certainly, with a caricature of PSY, the slightly daggy bar furniture and the signs advertising cheap drinks, it didn’t seem like a place that I’d try.

However, having had too much Thai food at FOMO (which is a few shops down), one night, I thought we’d give GP a try.  To cut to the chase, I ended up liking Gangnam Pocha.

The place is decorated in a mish mash of styles.  You’ve got the open windows, where punters are having a drink and a nibble, towards the back is the slightly daggy-looking bar (kinda like from the TV show, Cheers) and throughout the place, you’ve got statement gold and red flocked wall paper, standard restaurant chairs and tables, but with some Rococo statement furniture, and a projector showing K-pop videos on a wall thrown in for good measure.

And in the private dining room, it’s fully bling-ed up with gold, high-back chairs and a massive disc of what appears to be a Roman god hanging on the wall.

Menu-wise there’s a few different things on there than your typical Korean place.  But the menu is probably geared towards you ordering off their two or three course set meals.  There’s dishes listed under three columns, A, B and C.  ‘A’ and ‘B’ are like starters/entrees and the ‘C’ are the mains.  For each column, you have about six or seven choices to choose from.

We went for A+B+C, which sets you back $45 for two people.  A wee steep for a weekday meal – especially since you have to order sides if you want it.   We got two bowls of rice to go with our dishes.

For ‘A’, I had read online that the cheese and corn is a must.  Served on a hot, sizzling plate, this has to be the most cheesiest and richest cheese dish I’ve ever eaten!  Bubbly, sizzling and golden brown on top.  The corn nibblets are smothered in this gooey, stringy and oh-so-yummy cheese sauce.  There’s definitely a lot of mozzarella in it, but there is other stuff in it too.  There’s some other type of cheese in there, garlic, mustard and onion powder.  It’s very rich, very morish and very fattening.  It’s so good and so bad.... wonderful!

For ‘B’, I had to get the mackerel.  Mackerel is quite possibly my favourite fish – I love its meaty texture, juicy flesh and it’s tasty on its own.  I really don’t understand why more restaurants and shops don’t stock mackerel (either in fresh or tinned form).  It was simply pan fried and served with soy sauce and wasabi.   Propz to the chef for pin-boning the whole fish.

For ‘C’, we got the pork ssam—a warm braised pork served with cabbage leaves, pickled root vegs, slices of garlic and chilli, and kim chi.  While this was nice and a bit different, I was too enamoured with ‘A’ and ‘B’ to really appreciate ‘C’.  However, the Lawyer quite liked this dish and practically at the whole thing by himself.   The pork was tender and lightly seasoned.  It also wasn’t too fatty.  The rest of the dish was nicely done and were made from good quality ingredients but it was all a bit too spicy for me to really enjoy it.

Food – 8.5
Ambiance – 7
Service – 7
Price – 7

If you can look past the odd decor, the food here at Gangnam Pocha is well worth a try.  Even if you’re not ordering off the A+B+C menu, it’s still a bit pricey.  I’m definitely going back for the mackerel and to try some of the other less known/familiar Korean dishes. 

Service is friendly and discreet.  We went there during the weekday for an early dinner, and it was pretty quiet (although there were a few other tables having dinner too).  I’m not sure what this place is like later in the night since it seems to be geared towards the drinking crowd.

Gangnam Pocha
141 Bourke St
Telephone: 9078 8882

Gangnam Pocha on Urbanspoon

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