Experience the thrill of the grill
When it comes to dinner, two key evolutionary leaps have greatly benefitted mankind – the invention of the barbeque, which removed the need to rub two sticks together, and the Korean grill, where meat is eaten at the dinner table, in the great indoors. Melbourne in particular appreciates the latter, which is why Korean barbecue is such a popular past time here.
Mrs Kim’s take on the Korean barbecue has already spawned popular outposts in Carnegie and Richmond, and these have recently been joined by a third, in South Melbourne. Early on a Saturday evening, the newest branch is cheery and bustling: grills hiss, smoke plumes and staff buzz about flipping glistening cuts of beef ribs and pork belly over hotplates.
Despite its spare Scandinavian look, with exposed pipes and a timber-and-white colour scheme, this small restaurant makes you feel very welcome. Pull up a stool at the long communal table or cosy up in a booth or banquette pew. Each has its own gas BBQ, set of dipping sauces and banchans (side dishes). These are a sweet pickled onion and a nose-tickling kimchi (fermented cabbage), both good, but we had hoped for more variety.
You can order à la carte or choose a meal deal, like the two-person $45 ‘Cluck Cluck’. After ordering a procession of dishes – purple rice in natty metal tins; a plate piled with shredded spring onion; and a pot of heart-warming broth that’s full of zucchini, potato, tofu and bundles of enoki mushroom – appears. The meats are then delivered on wooden boards and cooked before your hungry eyes.
Chicken thigh, marinated in soy sauce, is sweet and succulent with properly caramelised edges. Neat rectangles of tender scotch fillet ordered from the beef menu are threaded with just enough fat to keep things juicy, and a veggie package with broccoli, carrot and potato is topped with grated cheese and cooked on the ring. It looks pedestrian, but one mouthful of its molten magnificence will change your tune.
Side salads include some welcome, if un-Korean, options: smoked salmon and avocado or celery and fennel. Better still are the ‘ssam vegetables’ – lettuce cups lined with crinkly pickled cabbage to gift wrap your meat in.
It’s early days for the South Melbourne branch, and occasionally it shows. While service is charming, there may be hiccups (no sake, side-tracked cutlery and a mistaken order). These will doubtless be rectified; the Mrs Kim’s crew know how to run a well-oiled grill.
|Venue name:||Mrs Kim's Grill|
179-181 Clarendon St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri noon-2pm, 5.30-10pm; Sat, Sun noon-3pm, 5.30-10pm|