You know that feeling when your food comes out and you think, yes, I have ordered exactly what I feel like? That’s what happened when I saw my giant Korean Fried Chicken burger ($16.90) at Space Kitchen. The burger comes with bacon (chicken and bacon are meant to be together), the eponymous fried chicken, Asian slaw, Sriracha and a smokey soy aioli. I also ordered a side of chips for $3 (not necessary). The chips were the only let down – a bit undercooked, they lacked freshness and crispness, although were well seasoned. The burger was hard to eat – knife and fork required – but worth the effort. The chicken isn’t super fried, just the skin, so within are tender pieces of breast meat that just melt in your mouth. The bacon was also a little less crisp than I prefer, but added so much flavour with a good streak of fat. The slaw was made by the great combo of Sriracha and the smokey aioli – together, they weren’t too much, and stopped the slaw from being dry. I couldn’t finish the burger, let alone the chips, so maybe a good one to share.
Space Kitchen, Skypark, corner of Furzer and Worgan Streets, Phillip ACT, http://space-kitchen.com.au/
I usually find myself at Local Press for breakfast, but on my last day before going back to work, I treated myself to a late lunch on a whim. The lunch menu has great seasonal options, and given the heat of the day, I opted for something on the refreshing side – Seared Tuna with furikake rice, house kimchi, pickled vegetables, miso bok choy, edamame puree and togarashi ($24). Phew. Luckily, eating it wasn’t as exhausting as typing it. This is definitely one of the food highlights of 2017 so far – the tuna was beautifully cooked (although one of the three portions was a bit cool by the time it got to the table), and the togarashi seasoning added a nice kick of spice. The accompaniments were well-considered, each adding great flavour and texture, and making the dish easy to eat slowly and savour. The bok choy was crisp and salty, and matched nicely with the heat of the kimchi (soooo good). The rice, well-seasoned, also helped to cool the kimchi heat and helped the dish become filling. The pickled vegetables were a highlight – the cucumber stole the show, although the beetroot and carrot were also tasty. This one is definitely a keeper please Local Press! Can’t wait to order it again!
Local Press, 128 Trevellian Quay, Kingston ACT http://www.localpresscafe.com.au/
No-one warned us that Gami sells their Korean fried chicken by the whole chook. Seriously. We spent a good minute freaking out before seeing the smaller serves (phew!). Mum and I were hurriedly shown to a table upstairs, where we were ignored for quite a while before having our order taken. Yes it was busy, but the vibe wasn’t exactly customer-friendly. We ordered the half chicken ($18) with soy garlic sauce plus a kimchi pancake ($14) (because I have no willpower). We snacked on the complimentary pickles until the pancake arrived – it was perfect, with just the right amount of spice and a great dipping sauce. Yum, yum, yum. The chicken came out not long after, with 9 pieces (assorted cuts). My first impression was that the sauce may have let the dish down – it left some of the skin soggy rather than crispy, taking away the contrast with the tender meat within. However, it was sweet (honey-like), and so moreish. On the downside, the chicken was very oily and also quite salty. I would give them another try as you can order the chicken without sauce, but I was disappointed by the service and the ‘churn them through’ vibe, so it’s probably not at the top of my ‘to revisit’ list.
Gami, 100 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC, http://www.gamichicken.com.au/
Sometimes you just need… ha! Thought I was going to say ‘a burger’, didn’t you? No, this time I acknowledge that there is indeed a time and a place for KFC. Korean fried chicken, obviously. A friend and I caught up for KFC at Chez Kimchi on a Friday night, getting a table without a problem. We started with iced apricot tea – served in a large glass it was beautifully refreshing, and kept us going until our first dish arrived. Hello kimchi and pork dumplings! Wrapped into perfect little rings, the serve of 4 ($6.80) was a perfect starter for two. We loved the spicy kick of the kimchi and enjoyed trying the dipping sauces provided. I was also a bit enthusiastic about the pickle sides – so, so good. The main event was the half-size fried chicken. Curious to see what the wasabi sauce was like, we picked the Spring Onion Chicken ($18), which had 7 pieces of chicken (so tricky to split, but we managed). Unfortunately we didn’t get any wasabi sauce with it, but the chicken was so perfectly crispy and delicious that we didn’t really mind. The food here is such great value too – definitely one to come back to.
Chez Kimchi, Shop 11, 70-86 Bunda Street Civic, ACT, no website
Dinner at Chez Kimchi was my first taste of Korean Fried Chicken (KFC). I’ve had Japanese-style variants, but this was my first authentic experience. We were very excited to explore the broad-ranging menu. We ordered the kimchi pancake, the vegetable bibimbap and the “Incredible” fried chicken, and I started out with a cup of apricot tea served hot – it was beautifully sweet and warming. We sampled the five complementary appetiser dishes – kimchi, seaweed salad, potato in a sweet sauce, pickled cabbage and a bean sprout salad – then got stuck into the kimchi pancake, which seemed a bit more like an onion pancake with kimchi sauce in the batter. There were a couple of pieces of kimchi but it wasn’t quite as kimchi-flavoured as I expected, although the portion size was generous. The KFC was next – coated in an unctuous, soy-ginger sauce, the wings were nicely battered and had plenty of meat on them. This was definitely the highlight of the meal. We thought we’d left the bibimbap long enough to make the rice go crunchy on the bottom but it hadn’t quite – this dish needed the red sauce served with it to stop it being dry, but the veggies included were a good mix. A new favourite for sure.
Chez Kimchi, Shop 11, 70-86 Bunda Street Civic, ACT, no website
I was very excited to see that Pepper Lunch had opened in Adelaide – I’d enjoyed their food years ago in Sydney and stopped in for a quick dinner on my way back from the airport. My first impression was that the restaurant was untidy – the floors were dirty and the tables hadn’t been wiped down, but the staff were hanging around playing on their phones. I can’t fault the service though, my order was taken promptly and the food came out quickly and beautifully presented. I ordered the kimchi beef plate, which includes thin slices of raw beef, a big mound of rice with corn and lots of kimchi. The plate is sizzling hot and you cook your food at the table. The beef was thin and didn’t take long to cook – whilst it wasn’t a high quality cut, the flavour was nice and there was a good amount on the plate. The kimchi was wonderfully spicy and I loved the way the rice started crisping up at the bottom, the longer I left it without stirring. Sure, this isn’t fine dining, but if you’re after a tasty, filling, inexpensive meal, stop in and give it a try.
Pepper Lunch, 82 Gouger Street, Adelaide SA http://www.pepperlunch.com.au/
We had the banquet dinner at Soju Girl for my friend’s hen’s night, and started out with cocktails. I had The Mandarin – gin, mandarin, ginger liquer, lime and ginger beer. The flavours were subtle and well-balanced, making a smooth, tangy drink that I’ll order again. We started with the betel leaf smoked trout – a fusion san choy bao-style mouthful which was a delicate explosion of flavour and one of my favourites. The zucchini flower was surprisingly filling, packed with sticky rice, and the creaminess of the eggplant pickle dish had me going back for seconds. The handmade gyoza were perfection – just the right amount of crispiness and perfect with the dipping vinegar – and the sauce accompanying the king prawn skewers was some kind of magic. We finished with the chicken katsu, which again was quite filling, and rice, so whilst all the portions were small, we didn’t leave hungry. The staff were attentive but not intrusive, and my only criticism was that the meals came out too quickly in succession, rather than being well-paced. Despite this, the banquet had great variety and flavour – I will be back again soon!
Soju Girl, 41-43 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra ACT http://www.sojugirl.com.au/