22nd February 2016
136 Koornang Road
Carnegie, VIC 3163
I love all forms of protein, but when a meat craving hits, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of a well-cooked piece of beef. There’s just something so primal and satisfying about tucking into a medium rare steak, or ribs sizzling on the grill. In this respect, Korean BBQ has it all – not only do you get your meat cooked fresh at the table, it’s also wrapped up with pickles, rice, and a wonderfully social eating experience.
When Mrs Kim (I assume that’s her name) migrated to Australia over 30 years ago, she had a nostalgic hankering for the food she grew up with. Fast forward to 2013, she has opened Mrs Kim’s Grill, a restaurant specialising in nothing but authentic Korean BBQ. Small but extremely popular, Mrs Kim’s seems to be booked out night after night by the large and varied bunch of BBQ lovers in Melbourne.
If industrial-chic is now a thing, then so is industrial-cute. Following a tried-and-true formula for a lot of Korean restaurants in Melbourne, Mrs Kim’s combines austerely tiled walls with adorable trinkets, then lines the walls with bare bulbs strung up like fairy lights. The resulting effect is surprisingly comfortable.
Although there is an a la carte menu, unless you have something very specific in mind, the set meals are the way to go. Simply named the Moo, Baa, Oink, and Cluck Cluck sets, each $39 option comes with meat, soup of the day, a butter vegetable parcel, your choice of salad , rice for two, and the standard banchan and condiments. This is such good value that when I told one of my co-workers about it, she was convinced that I was going to get food poisoning (I didn’t).
After what I said about beef earlier, it seems silly to get anything other than the Moo Set ($39). The meats that came with it were the Famous Marinated Galbi Beef Ribs (350g) and Skirt Steak (200g), and it took all of a minute for it to be set sizzling on the grill by our waitress.
I’m going to be honest and say that I had a difficult time telling the difference between the two meats – both were tender and juicy, marinated with a sweet soy sauce. I love the way that with Korean BBQ, you have the option to have your meat as rare or as charred as you would like, and I like it best when it’s still pink in the middle, but with crispy, smoky edges. Give it a dip in the ssam jang, wrap it up with some spring onion salad, and let the good times roll!
Oh and a special mention to the rice! It came in these adorable metal ration tins, which would make anything taste good.
Halfway through our meal, our waitress came and put the Butter Veggie Parcel on our grill. They say butter veggie, but they really mean cheese-covered veggies and rice cakes – not that you’ll hear any complaints from me!
Out of the three salads available, we chose the Smoked Salmon and Onion Salad (the other two options – tomato and avocado salsa, and ssam veggies – were less exciting). This was a bit of an odd salad in that you wouldn’t have it by itself as you would a normal salad; although the smoked salmon was thick and fresh, partnering flawlessly with the bitter rocket, the onions were definitely out of place. Piled high in its own pickling juices, it’s definitely meant to be had as an accompaniment to the meats, not a stand-alone dish.
The waitress said that the soup of the day was a traditional Korean soup. What she really meant was that it was a Doenjang Jjigae, the classic Korean stew made with fermented soybeans and veggies. This is a strong and slightly unusual taste for people who aren’t use to it, but having grown up with a very similar condiment in China, I enjoyed the salty, spicy flavour of the stew, especially as it soaked into the tender chunks of veggies and tofu.
I honestly have no bones at all to pick with Mrs Kim’s Grill. Flavour, quality, value, and ambience – it’s all there in spades. There isn’t anything left to say other than: MAKE SURE YOU BOOK, OR YOU’LL BE SORRY!
Rating: 14.5/20 – mildly addictive. or so their logo says.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.