It’s cold and windy and you feel the chill from the surrounding air as well as seemingly from within your bones. No matter how much you bundle yourself in layers of clothes, you still can’t seem to keep warm enough. In times like this, what you need is something hot, something comforting, and something that warms your soul from within.
In our continuing bid to eat closer to home, and actually try places instead of constantly walking past them, Monsieur Poisson and I decide to try a local Korean restaurant which has been around for a while but unfortunately has been long-neglected by us. It is a cold evening and our minds immediately turn to spicy foods and Korean hotpot.
The restaurant, on the first level of Victoria Plaza overlooking Victoria Avenue, is quite busy when we wander in and it seems that everyone has the same notion of warming food to beat the cold. The tables are a little sticky and most are fitted with barbeque hotplates, although not all. The décor is simple with the walls decorated by framed pictures of dishes, some of which don’t even appear in the dine-in menu itself!
As usual with dining in a Korean restaurant, we are treated to an array of complimentary side dishes – spring onion fritters, konbu seaweed, green salad, bean sprouts, agar-agar jelly with chilli soy and, of course, kimchi. (True story: Nella’s holiday snaps from South Korea last year included that of a meal with two ordered main dishes, and upwards of ten complimentary sides dishes – all for only two people!) We also order a serve of deep-fried dumplings to start with.
I don’t particularly like deep-fried dumplings but I was having a dumpling craving so I was looking for a fix. Not overly oily and with a nice plump filling, this felt like a larger serving than its looks would convey. Water is complimentary and comes pre-chilled in reusable plastic bottles.
And then what we came for – hotpot! Monsieur Poisson has chosen the ‘Ham and vegies hotpot’ which has all manner of tinned ham, corned beef and sausage pieces in amongst zucchini, cabbage, enoki, bamboo shoots, tofu and rice cake slices in a mildly spicy soup. We mix some of this soup in with the rice which comes on the side while we wait for the square of instant noodles poised in the middle of the soup to cook, along with the egg which has been cracked over the top.
We return for dinner again soon after, on another cold evening, and are encouragingly met with a slightly differing selection of side dishes. It’s nice to know that there is variety in what the kitchen presents, even in a smaller place as this. I am intrigued by a plate of soy-flavoured legume-looking things which are chewy in texture, have a mild nutty flavour and are somewhat more-ish. An enquiry with the waiter yields no answers though.
We order the ‘Barbeque beef tongue’ as we didn’t get a chance to try any of their stir-fried dishes last time. It is presented sizzling on a hotplate interspersed with onion, spring onion, chilli and sesame seeds. The dish has a beautiful garlicky meaty flavour but unfortunately gets greasier as it cools down.
We order the same hotpot as previous but this time the square of instant noodles has a couple of slices of plastic cheese placed on top, which melts into a gooey layer as the noodles cook. More fascinating however, is the single burner portable stove placed on our table for the purposes of the hotpot – ‘solar power’? Would love to know what it says underneath in Korean!
Shop 27, Victoria Plaza, 269 Victoria Ave, Chatswood NSW
Tel: (02) 9412 1816
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-10pm
Sun 5-10pm (dinner only)