66 Swanston St
Melbourne, VIC 3053
I never trust restaurants that do more than one cuisine, but after hearing nothing but positive reviews on Big Mama, I decided a visit was long overdue.
Big Mama is both bigger and smaller than I had expected it to be, with soaring ceilings but only an armful of tables. Stepping out of the hot and dusty road and into the cool restaurant was bliss.
Like all Korean restaurants (though Big Mama is at least half Japanese as well), Banchanis a given. The selection of side dishes here however are a lot less traditional that what you would expect. Instead of the traditional spicy pickled cabbage and bean sprouts tossed in sesame oil, there was a trio of seaweed salad, fishcakes in mayonnaise, and slices of deep fried… something, drizzled in kewpie and BBQ sauce. Sure it’s not very conventional but it made for a good change; plus fish cake is good any time of the day.
|Chilli Chicken Karaage ($14.8)|
I was mega interested in the kimchi fried rice and creamy garlic seafood, but that wasn’t much of an option with Chris disliking kimchi, and I wasn’t hungry enough to eat it myself. The Chilli Chicken Karaage ($14.8) sounded just as good though. I don’t have much to say about this but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes it’s justchicken but you really can’t beat the little pieces of chicken fried into a pile of crispy nubbins, doused in a sweet and sticky sauce that’s just a little tacky on the teeth. On the side was a salad dressed in sesame oil vinaigrette and a bowl of rice, making for a simple yet simply satisfying meal.
|Agadashi Tofu ($7.5, 4pc)|
I’ve heard people wax lyrical about the Agadashi Tofu ($7.5, 4pc) but how good could fried tofu be? I do love my fried tofu though, so I ordered this dish with enthusiasm, preparing to be amazed. And completely unexpectedly, I was amazed. Piping hot and silky smooth, it was absolutely scrumptious drizzled in a generous mix of BBQ sauce and kewpie mayo. The exterior may not have been too crispy but that just meant that I could take my time and wait for the golden cubes to cool down. And because the four cubes were so huge, I could eat to my hearts content.
Surprisingly, Big Mama turned out to be very enjoyable, and well above par for what it is. I’m keen to come back to try a few more things off the menu, especially the cheese and kimchi rice cakes. That’ll teach me to be a judgemental Grinch.
Rating: 14/20 – how the ming stole christmas.