Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sear it and spear it!

Tong 86 is a Korean bbq casual restaurant located on Beaufort Street in Northbridge near the police station and the Court (I've been known to eat here before hitting the dance floor there - maybe as a result of a little too much soju!).  On the odd occasion that I'm suffering from massive red meat cravings (I generally prefer chicken or fish) I love to come here.  You cook the meat yourself at the table and it's served simply with a few side dishes (most often lettuce, fish cake slices, cabbage kimchi and spring onion kimchi (at least I think that's what it is)).

Doesn't get more freshly cooked than this!
I usually dip the cooked meat into the salted sesame oil and then into the soya bean/chilli sauce, placed it in part of a torn lettuce leaf with some of the side dishes, roll it up and gobble it down.  YUM.

Unsuspecting victims of my bad photography  skills
It's always packed with Koreans (to me, that's proof enough of its authenticity) and what I love about it is there's nothing fancy about the place from the decor to the service (in fact, the service is usually pretty bad - you really want to order as much as you can at the first go as it can be very hard to wave a waiter down a second time) and the meat isn't seasoned or marinated in anything, so it's very much about the flavour and quality of the meat more than anything else.

A tip from a Korean friend was that drinking soju while eating improves the flavour of the meat.  Not sure if it's true (generally once I start with the soju I don't tend to remember the dining experience, so my testing of the theory hasn't been very useful!) but it's worth a try!  You clink your glasses, say 건배! (kon bae!) toss it back like a shooter, and I like to do this for fun - pull a face and make a sound in the back of your mouth by partially blocking the air with your tongue almost like you've burned something.  You see them do it a lot in k-dramas - it's kinda fun!  And takes the sting away from the soju which can be quite strong =P

It's uncomplicated eating at its best and if you feel like something more substantial they do have other dishes like kimchi pancakes and my favourite - kimchi jigae (described as kimchi stew on the menu).  It's a stew made from old kimchi, chilli, tofu and small pieces of pork.  The kimchi, which can usually be quite sharp in flavour when fresh, has been mellowed out due to age (and stewing) and is almost sweet in this stew.  It's my hands-down favourite Korean home dish and I order it anywhere I can get it (because kimchi can be so varying in flavour I love trying it everywhere).  I throw as much rice as can fit in the bowl and then scoff the lot - truth be told, tonight I forgot my meat craving and didn't even need any what we had cooked (though of course I scoffed that too haha).  I had my bowl of stew; a meteor could've fallen on the restaurant and I would've been no closer to  heaven.

I inhaled.  It disappeared.

Tong 86 on Urbanspoon

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