I'll be honest with you. I never really had proper Korean food until I came to Perth. There are many, many Korean restaurants in Perth, and they all seem to do fairly well (even if the food is not that great).
I didn't really get into Korean cuisine until I started regularly eating it with my friends in Perth, and now it seems I actually cannot stop trying out every new restaurant that pops up in Perth or Singapore. I now have a regularly fermenting tub of kimchi at the back of fridge, which sounds disgusting, but the longer I leave kimchi in my fridge the better it tastes to me.
That said, come September this blog will explode with Korean food reviews, so here's one for the road: Arirang Korean BBQ Restaurant and Cafe.
*photo from Arirang Website
At the suggestion of my lunch buddy, we had lunch at Arirang today, eagerly weaving through the afternoon city crowds the Perth CBD with a hungry anticipation of rice and kimchi. If it's one thing I share with my lunch buddy, it's our love for the signature Bibimbap.
Which we both ordered:
It is a thing of beauty. A hot stone bowl, sizzling and crackling from beef, rice, namul (pickled vegetables) and fresh vegetables, with gochuchang (chilli paste), a touch of sesame oil and the lovely runny egg on top. Stirred together, it creates a bowl of perfect harmony of spicy salty spicy flavours, along with the contrasting textures of crunchy vegetables, soft beef, sweet mushrooms, crispy charred rice and egg.
I always mix my entire serving of gochuchang and kimchi into the bowl - the messier this bowl gets, the better the flavours are mixed and the happier I am spoon after spoon. As a plus, because it is a Dolsuk Bibimbap, meaning it's served in a hot stone bowl, it stays hot forever and gives you the beautiful charred bits of rice at the bottom, delivering a slightly deeper, smokier flavour.
As all Korean cuisines, it comes with the sides of kimchi and namul. Modest restaurants serve the basic three or four, but the sides can go up to ten or more plates of pickled vegetables or sweet anchovies. It all depends, but it will never disappoint.
As we were slightly ravenous and quite unhinged by our hunger, we also got an entree side of Kimchi Pajun, a kimchi pancake:
Kimchi Pajun is basically a savoury pancake flavoured with pork, spring onions and kimchi, spicy and slightly sour from the kimchi, with tender slivers of pork. Most establishments serve this pancake in seafood and vegetarian variations as well, but my go-to is always kimchi.
Beautifully crispy, soft and doughy with soft pork and kimchi encased within - always a personal favourite for me.
Arirang has pretty decent Korean food, it isn't the very best I've had but I have little complains. It's the basic, cheap Korean cuisine served quickly and hot so I will automatically love it. It's a quiet, large establishment, perfect for a long lunch or a night of Korean barbeque with friends. They also have an al fresco seating, but due to their location right next to the very busy road and a bus stop, I would not sit outside.
I will however, be reviewing my all-time favourite Korean restaurant in Perth very soon, so watch this space! Till then, have a bowl of Bibimbap and don't worry about the mess - remember, the mess is a good, beautiful thing. (As long as the food stays within the bowl.)