Thursday, May 3, 2012

Introducing my new meaty lover: Donwoori

I really wanted to make a hilariously witty pun with donwoori in the title, but have resolved myself to just explain my intentions so you still remember how funny I am. My love affair with Korean BBQ has been the most intense of food flings I have had in a while. I should extend that affair to include BBQ meat in general (specifically San Telmo and also Weazelby feasts). Sometimes I don't even want to wash the clothes I wore out to dinner just so I can breathe in the smoky meaty soaked smells. Does that sound foul? Probably, but I don't care what you say, I think I'm going to be on this bandwagon for a while. Until my intestines accrue levels of HCA's and PAH's that render me hospitalised (see here for more). 

On a more palatable note let me tell you all about the carnivorous heaven that is Donwoori. I've never really been exposed to much Korean cuisine, and to be honest, I still don't know much about it. All I know is that kimchi and pickles make me happy, and DIY BBQ is one of the more fun styles of eating out. Coupled with drinking super cheap soju (kind of like a watered down sweet vodka, native to Korea, usually about 20% alcohol) you are pretty much guaranteed to have a great time whether it be due to inebriation or satiation.

276 Victoria St (opposite vic market)
West Melbourne 
7 days a week from 6pm
BYO $3 a head (but get the soju, it's only $10 for a bottle)

 Donwoori on Urbanspoon

Donwoori is located in the cluster of Korean restaurants on Victoria st opposite the Queen Vic Market. I've previously been to Hallah (actually only a few days before donwoori) which is also good but not quite on the same level as Donwoori.

You can choose between 3 different 'sets' if you don't feel like making up your own combo.. and I highly recommend this option. Crazy value, Set A (which feeds 2-3ppl) was only $39 and had 3 meats (flank steak, top grade beef rib and topside beef) with a kim chi stew ( we swapped the soy bean paste stew).

This came with rice and my favourite part - the banchan ! Zingy sweet daikon pickle, mild spiced kimchi and another daikon, cucumber and carrot pickle. Naturally, I was nibbling away at all three before the meat had even appeared.We also had separate portions of chilli paste and roasted sesame oil (another favourite).

Fire it up Willy ! (no the waiters name was not willy but it seems BBQ appropriate.. you know old BBQ Willy from that kids TV show, or something)

 First up the top grade beef rib

The wait staff are great here, and constantly check on your BBQ meat so you don't go and mess it up ! They also cut up the meat so you have bite sized mouth watering morsels. I have to say the rib was pretty chewy, but sometimes I think - and this may be a stupid thought - when meat is so tender it doesn't feel natural eating it without having to put some work in. The meat tasted good, end of point.

  The kimchi stew is bloody fantastic ! It is brought out uncooked and left to bubble away for exactly 9 minutes until it reaches perfection point. The kim chi stew was by far the best I have had so far, full of tofu, kimchi (no way!)  and pork (I think? Disclaimer: soju) and and had a decent chilli kick to it as well. 

We also ordered the seafood pancake $12 (although I wanted the seafood kimchi pancake which was lost in translation). It had a dayumm fine crispy underlayer and was flecked with calamari and shrimp, but I was a little bitter that it wasn't the kimchi seafood pancake which rumour suggests is even better. Oh ! And the pancake came with an unbelievably tasty chilli oil. It was like crack - I think it had roasted garlic in it and it was sweet but not in that foul sweet-chilli way. I poured that stuff all over my rice and didn't speak for at least 4.5 seconds when I wolfed it down.

There was more food but I was too busy chewing the beast (yes of course I ended up with that big hunk-of-bone from the beef rib) to take photos. 

So the bottom line is, Donwoori is off the hook fantastic. Extremely good value. The only problem is it is small (seats ~20), you cannot book, and the phone number is mysteriously non existent (03) 0000 0000. Which I kind of like. As vexing as no booking policies are, it does mean that there's always a small chance you can get a table if you have one of those spontaneous Korean BBQ urges (which are happening too frequently in my life these days).

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