From spicy rice cakes to buttercream gateaux, there’s Korean street food for every hour of the day. Here’s our rundown of the tastiest K-spots to try.
Which came first, the chicken or the beer? Find out at Sam Sam, specialising in crispy wings and chilled bevs. So how do you like your KFC (that’s Korean Fried Chicken)? Fried with sweet chilli, or with soy and garlic. Red-hot and spicy, dusted with snow cheese or drizzled with lemon mayonnaise. And your beer? There’s Kirin, Max (Korean) and Furphy on tap, or Asahi by the bottle. Or go all out with a soju-rita - a cocktail of zesty ice granita spiked with an upturned bottle of soju.
Next, let us take you down to Chunky Town for deep-fried cheese skewers. AKA Korean hot dogs to go. These K-pop sausages on a stick are crispy and crunchy, drizzled with different sauces. Pair your battered sausage with ketchup, or try mozzarella with mayo. Or how about dotted with chips, rolled in noodles, or drenched in squid ink? There’s also the Just Cheese Chunky, without the sausage. You’ll find Chunky Town at QV.
Sweet cravings? Try Sulbing, Busan’s dessert café celebrated for its bingsu. These ‘snow ice’ creations are crafted from finely shaved flakes of frozen ice cream or yoghurt. But the real delight lies in the toppings. So many decisions. Like the dark chocolate Oreo Monster, or tiramisu cheesecake, or rockmelon with red bean sticky rice cake. But, really, who can go past the red velvet cake with strawberries and whipped cream? Savoury fans will salivate over the cheesy tteokbokki pizza, served fresh and piping hot in a sizzling skillet.
For more Korean take-away hot dogs, make a beeline for Seoul Station at Melbourne Central. These deep-fried sausage pops are coated in potato or crunchy ramen noodles. As well as the regular K-hotdog crumb. Or swap your sausage for melting mozzarella in a potato batter. For the true Korean flavour, add sugar. To finish, drizzle with sauces (maximum two). Ketchup, mustard, honey mustard, sweet chilli or cheese.
Start your Korean street-food journey at Sinjeon. It’s the go-to place for Seoul’s number one snack, tteokbokki (pronounced ‘doo-bok-kee’). These sweetly spiced rice cakes pack a chilli-powered punch. Try dipping fried fish cakes into the spicy sauce. Or top with a pot of melted cheese. Of course there’s much more on the menu at Sinjeon, including kimbap (Korean sushi), fried chicken and bibimbap.
Time for tea and dessert with a Korean twist? Pop in to Armitea, hidden up an escalator in the MidCity Centre. Cuteness abounds with cakes topped with Pokémon or Disney characters. Croissants get a makeover too, filled with chocolate or green tea cream. To drink, order Earl Grey milk tea, or try traditional pumpkin sweet rice tea. For something fruity, go for apple cinnamon flavoured bevs.
Palette serves Korean-style sando in a light and airy minimalist space. This North Melbourne café is an aesthetic blend of local and Korean influences. K-flavours are a standout in the fried chicken burger with kimchi slaw and gochujang aioli. And just try to resist the bite-sized popcorn chicken. Or carb load on another level with the loaded hash brown sandwich - featuring scrambled eggs, crispy hash brown, melted cheese and house-made apple mustard sauce.
Dari Korean Cafe & Bar
Another sando slinging spot comes in the form of Dari. In a quiet nook on Hardware Lane, this café serves some super unique creations. Like the idol sandwich: a combo of cabbage slaw, strawberry jam and potato egg salad served on thick white toast. Apparently this oddly delicious combo was born at the Seoul Broadcasting Station café, and gained huge popularity with visiting K-Pop idols. Other sweet treats include pumpkin milkshakes and sweet soy rice cake tiramisu.
No Korean street-food immersion is complete without classic K-BBQ. Established by Korean chef Baek Jong-won, Bornga introduces foreign palates to Korean flavours. Grilled meat bridges the language gap, and beef bulgogi is an essential experience. But Bornga doesn’t omit street-food favourites like boneless bundles of fried chicken. Try them with sweet chilli or soy. For more street soul, try the kimchi pancake, fried dumplings or spicy rice cakes.
Gami Fried Chicken
It’s KFC – Korean Fried Chicken – and ice cold beer. Gami specialise in crispy, spicy chicken and it comes in three flavours: original, sweet chili or soy garlic. Don’t miss ‘Potato Heaven’ – three layers with creamy mash, cheese and wedges are in layered harmony. Cut through the layers with piquant pickled radish.
Colour your lunch happy with cult Korean snacks at Rainbow Toastie. The ultimate in Instagrammable munchables, they use a secret blend of tasty and mozzarella cheeses to make this stretchy technicolor treat. Give that rainbow-hued cheese a stretch, and you can’t help but grin. Cheese-paired flavours include ham, sweet potato, pizza and egg. Enjoy with a Korean-style iced coffee.
More of the best Korean spots in Melbourne
Last updated on Thu 14 Jan 2021
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