You can never really go wrong with having Korean food, at least not in my books. I just love Korean food. Is it the Korean BBQ? yes but not entirely. Is it the kimchi that sends me swooning over Korean cuisine? Not really (Though I have tasted really good kimchi once). What about the spiciness? Can’t entirely say I’m a fan, yet. To be honest I just love the the fact that Korean food encompasses such a wide array of vegetables to compliment each dish with even more vegetable side dishes to boot. To me, a dish that has a lot well cooked and seasoned vegetables is a dish made in heaven. And that’s why, my friend you can’t go wrong with Korean food. Today I wanted to try eating at a different Korean restaurant in Clayton and suggested we go to Hodori Korean Garden.
The night didn’t start off that smoothly when I found myself lost and unsure where the restaurant was. I was at the right address but because I thought the place was called Hodori Garden, I was unable to make the connection with the restaurant across the road from me called Korean Garden Restaurant. So here I’ve included a picture for those who might be new coming here as I was. Nothing like standing outside in the cold, hungry and lost to realise when your friend calls you that you were in the right place and just didn’t know it.
Once inside, we wasted no time and placed our orders immediately.
First up we had some ddeokbokki (above) for the entree. My friend asked for it to be spicy, so it was more spicy than sweet. The combined flavours of the stock, fish cake and sweetness of from the onions make this sticky rice cake dish really nice. It wasn’t overly flavoured, and helped warmed up my soul in the cold weather. (Below) I order stone pot bibimbap again. Hey, I’m making it my mission to try all the bibimbap in Melbourne. So far it is my favourite Korean dish purely for the amount of vegetables and the balance the meal provides on it’s own without having to eat or add anything else to it. I love it that much. Writing about it actually making me crave for some bibimbap actually. Anyway, back to the post. The bibmbap had it’s usual beansprouts, carrots, spring onions, onion, beef, egg and dried seaweed, but with this one here there was also some other sort of green leafy/seaweed like vegetable as well. It was certainly something different and I’m not complaining, but thinking back to it, I wished I had asked the waiter what it actually was. I need to ask more questions when eating out in general. It’d be good to know what the chef used in some of the dishes, as long as they didn’t have an issue with sharing some information.
The deliciousness of it all. How I…really need to… start making Korean food at home. You can see the array of side dishes they had available at Hodori Korean Garden. Here you have kimchi, fish cakes, cucumber and greens salad?, pickled bean sprouts, candied potato, and some other slaw, that I didn’t get to try out. I was too busy with my bibimbap to even realise that it was all gone before I had the chance to taste it. Of the six side dishes only the kimchi and fish cakes were notably nice. The other vegetable side dishes were unremarkable in flavour, though some points for something different with the cucumber salad. I haven’t seen it served like that before.
And the final dish for the man (my friend) to satisfy his love of meat dishes, we ordered the pork bulgogi (below). I love a meat dish that comes with extra vegetables mixed in it. And the pork bulgogi came with just that. The pork was flavoured well and the meat itself was soft and tender. If anything, there always seem to be a bit too much oil at the bottom of the stone plate afterwards, no matter where I go. I understand if the oil is used to prevent the food from sticking to the plate, but is that much oil really necessary? What if I wanted to eat the plate clean? Probably doesn’t happen really often but I’m just saying. The dish could be that good that it’d make you want to lick it clean, but you can’t because there is a pool of oil at the bottom of it all. So you spend more time draining the oil from the meat on a spare plate than enjoying it straight from the serving plate. It probably wasn’t that bad, compared to Kang Na Roo there was a little less oil used. But still, I’d love to eat at a place where the chef isn’t so liberal with his/her use of oil and just take it easy a bit. I know winter is coming, but the meat itself already has enough fat in it, no need to add more. (A little Game of Thrones reference. I’m saddened that there was no episode this week actually)
The place where we sat and ate our food was upstairs. In fact the whole dining area is upstairs. And if you take a look at the picture (above) you can see on the far left side there is a walkway to another dining area. So I’m assuming that there’s two conjoining rooms which makes up the upper dining area. There are a few low tables and seats on the first floor as well, but I don’t think anyone really uses that area very much if at all. The kitchen itself is also upstairs, but the toilets are downstairs, straight ahead from the entrance door. A very interestingly structured restaurant indeed. There is a lot of space here which can be potentially be used to enhance the venue a bit, but it doesn’t seem like the owners are really interested in that. As long as the food if good right? That’s all that really matters and it’s true. An understated looking restaurant with amazing food? I’m all for it.
Overall, a place to eat and definitely come back. That is, once I’ve tackled all the other Korean restaurants in Melbourne…I kid, I kid. Look, Kimchi Grandma is still my favourite place for bimbimbap. The pork bulgogi here definitely trumps over Kang Na Roo‘s beef bulgogi and pork sam gyp sal because there’s more flavour, the serving is larger and there’s less oil. The side dishes though nice, don’t comapare to Kang Na Roo‘s but at least they provided us with six and not four like Kimchi Grandma.