Always one to try new things, I jumped at the chance to try out Korean cuisine at Hwaro Korean Barbecue (532 Little Bourke St, Melbourne Ph: 9642 5696). Korean food aligns closer to Japanese and with the packed tables of Korean businessmen tending to their beef fillets, ribs, belly and prawns, it looked like it was going to be an interesting dinner.
This place is only suitable for meat lovers, with practically the whole menu consisting of beef, ox, chicken, pork or seafood, but it’s the cooking part which is the most fun. You cook the meat for yourself on a hot pot filled with scorching coals, and judging by the enthusiastic Koreans on other tables, this is what authentic Korean cuisine is is all about.
In addition to the meat based dishes, there are noodles, soups and rice dishes which are tasty, simple and spicy all at once. The Bai-top-shell noodle seafood salad is hot and spicy with a hint of freshness, while the Bibimbap vegetarian rice dish is almost like a reassuring risotto, but borders on bland until you throw in some chilli sauce which gives it a kick.
The warm wood paneling and the bamboo screens gives the restaurant a very clean and slick Seoul feel, but is let down by the staff who range from experts to novices which can be frustrating for diners who don’t know much about Korean cuisine. The drinks list has a couple fresh Korean beers, such as Cass and Hite, an adequate list of soju (a kind of sake) and Korean wines.
The food itself is over-priced for what it is. With simple flavours and not very filling portions, we left Hwaro still a little hungry and scouting somewhere for dessert to fill us up. A definite fun night out due to the cook-for-yourself factor, it’s probably best to find a Korean friend and go with them.
2.5 of 5