Mapo Grill

551 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
When I get hungry, I get HANGRY. And the worst part is, I don’t realise that I’m hangry until I stop being hangry. Mind you, it is sort of nice to find that most of my problems look better on the right side of a good meal.  I like Cantonese or Korean food when I’m hangry, but I’ve just about run clean out of both without straying from the CBD. Luckily my trawling through the internets turned up Mapo Grill, a relatively new Korean restaurant tucked away amongst a strip of eateries at the top end of Bourke Street.
I have to admit, first impressions weren’t good. Though the restaurant was spacious and comfortable, littered with homely trinkets so characteristic of Korean restaurants, we did not appreciate the owner hovering over us and breathing down our necks as we examined the menu. And we weren’t even in the restaurant at that point; we were standing outside, looking at the menu on the door. It was almost enough to drive me away. Seriously, stop hovering and let me decide at my own pace whether or not I want to eat at your restaurant. /endrant
Cheese Fire Chicken ($19.9)
Needless to say, once I decided that I will eat here despite all the hovering, we were seated quick smart. Although the smells of beef rib on the grill from the adjacent table were amazing, I was too lazy to cook my own food and went for the a la carte options instead. There was army stew on offer, but in an attempt to eat healthier, I decided to have the Cheese Fire Chicken ($19.9) instead. It took me about 2 hours to realise why chicken covered in cheese wasn’t the best choice for a wholesome dinner.  
Cheese Fire Chicken ($19.9)
Still, it was worth it, as it was the best chilli chicken with cheese I’ve ever had. A little spicy and a little smoky, the pieces of chicken seared on the hot plate were covered with melted cheese, mingling with the spicy soy bean paste and whole cloves of caramelised garlic for a creamy, zesty mouthful.
Bulgogi in Hot Stone Pot ($15.9)
Compared to the chicken, the Bulgogi in Hot Stone Pot ($15.9) wasn’t much of a standout. It’s not nearly as bold and aromatic as some of the other bulgogi stews I’ve had, and although I don’t think I’ll ever say this again, it lacked the characteristic sweetness of a good bulgogi.
Bulgogi in Hot Stone Pot ($15.9)
Despite that, it was a well priced and hearty stew, containing a generous amount of sliced beef. The soup is as comforting as ever, maybe even more so with the addition of a healthy amount of pepper to the cloudy beef stock. It is the ultimate restorative, ladled over rice and spooned up with big pieces of spicy, crunchy Kimchi. Give the Sprouts a miss though – they’re bland and deflated.
I came out of Mapo Grill feeling a lot happier than when I walked in. Sure I was no longer hangry, but the fact that it was a good meal helped as well. I have every intention of coming back to try their Korean BBQ options, as the smell of sizzling pork fat is just too good to resist forever.
Rating: 13.5/20 – stop hovering.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.

Mapo Grill on Urbanspoon

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