A coal-fueled Korean barbeque or bibimbap cooked in a hot stone dish, tables piled high with every imaginable type of banchan, and hot soups to warm your cockles are all waiting for you on a chilly evening in the city.
Those craving Korean cuisine in Melbourne will be spoiled for choice. We have all the classics as well as some of the newest takes on Korean barbeque and jjigae. While many people may be trying Korean food for the first time, many may not know what to expect or how to make the most of their meal.
Are you nearing the end of your meal and planning on having a drink at one of the local establishments? No, that is not the proper approach. Pairing a tasty drink with an equally tasty dish is an integral part of socialising with Asians.
The delicious fare and warm ambience at these Korean restaurants in Melbourne will keep your party going strong.
Korean Restaurants in Melbourne
Some Korean restaurants in Melbourne can even compete with their South Korean counterparts due to the high quality of the beef, pork, and other produce available in the area.
In terms of the price range, we have categorised them into:
- Cheap – $30 for two people, not including drinks
- Moderate – $50 for two people, not including drinks
- Expensive – $80 for two people, not including drinks
- Splurge – $100 for two people, not including drinks
Retail has struggled in recent years, and as a result, the once bustling strip has become a desolate wasteland. Bridge Road used to be the centre of discount clothing, but that has changed in recent years. Here comes Jan Chi, an independent hotel that is taking a chance on Richmond's volatile real estate market. The restaurant lives up to its name, which means "to feast" in Korean, with a 530-gram serving of braised Angus short ribs being its signature dish.
This restaurant serves traditional Korean flavours with a contemporary twist, despite the fact that Korean food is currently all the rage. Prior to his time at Lucy Lui and Spice Temple in Melbourne, Ryu worked the line at the acclaimed Japanese restaurant MASA and the cutting-edge Momofuku Ssam in New York. Traveling via New York, Ryu eventually arrived in Melbourne.
Before joining the founding team at Kisume, Min held down the fort for an impressive six years at the Chin Chin juggernaut. Accordingly, Min is regarded as the Lucas Group's most valuable player. It makes perfect sense that the two are bringing their traditional values as well as their carefree, party spirit to this otherwise serious eatery.
Even though we may have already mentioned this, please place your order for the braised short rib. It's large enough to feed four people comfortably and leaves room for the many side dishes you'll want to bring. To complement the meaty, sticky short ribs, the dish is accompanied by a crunchy salad made from the same fruits used in the soy sauce.
This dish is a wonderful illustration of the culinary potential of soju. Puffs of wild rice and freeze-dried mandarin add welcome texture.
Moreover, fried chicken is an absolute necessity at any Korean banquet. In addition, a serving of Jan Chi's consists of six pieces, including wings and drumsticks.
In addition to the standard, dry preparation, you can also order it with a sweet soy and garlic glaze. Tteokbokki are a kind of rice cake that are thick, chewy, and cylindrical in shape.
The neon-accented, low-lit room's central bar emphasises the inseparability of Korean food and booze. The most popular beverage is soju, which can have an alcohol content between 17 and 53 percent.
Among the latest cocktail fads is the use of Asian ingredients like peppery shiso in classics like the Mojito. To replace the gin in the traditional recipe, the Negroni uses a silky organic soju that contains 53% alcohol by volume, while the Martini is sweetened with Yuja syrup.
It doesn't have to be Friday night for this place to be bursting at the seams with customers. Some of the younger Koreans have already claimed the tables, while the older members of the community are forming lines for takeout.
There is no other Korean restaurant like Jan Chi. It fuses classic tastes with the Australian penchant for treating meals as an occasion for socialising over drinks. Jan Chi is a restaurant that operates on its own terms, and it couldn't feel more modern, despite the fact that you can see the cumulative effect of culture, fine dining, and modern eateries as influences on Ryu and Min.
Korea has its own word, "anju," for foods that are meant to be enjoyed with alcoholic drinks.
Since word of Chae's cosy restaurant spread, she has been unable to keep up with demand, and has been forced to institute waitlists in advance of the June opening of her next location. If that's the case, why is everyone making such a big deal about it? To begin, let's discuss the menu.
Serve it with some of the proprietor and head chef Jung Chae's homemade fermented watermelon makgeolli (rice wine). It's the ideal non-heavy complement to a fried snack because of its light flavour, pleasant aroma, and milky sweetness.
Despite the tight quarters of her tiny kitchen, Jung Chae manages to put on a captivating one-woman show with hardly a peep. If you look away from your plate long enough, you might see her carefully stacking the used plates in the dishwasher, or if you turn around, you might see her refilling your cup of hot tea.
Like the neatly arranged shelves where she keeps her homemade ferments, so are the dishes (such as kombucha, kimchi, chilli sauce, and vinegar, to name a few). Everything from the server's "work" uniform and plain apron to her lightning-fast plating speed contributes to the memorable quality of a fine dining experience at restaurants like Cutler and Company and Lûmé.
Sesame oil from Chae's mom's farm in Korea gives the busut (mushroom) japchae a wonderful aroma. Woven with the glass noodles are strips of wagyu beef that are still rare and pink from being lightly charred, as well as enoki, shimeji, king oyster, and wood ear mushrooms. The savoury sesame oil and Chae's homemade soy sauce complement the smoky flavours beautifully.
Yeongeun bap, also known as lotus root rice, is made with three various kinds of red rice. It's served with banchan like kimchi, pickled cucumbers, perilla leaves, and kelp, and a beef rib broth called cloudy galbitang that's served hot with spring onion islands and a salt shaker on the side. Pickles improve the dish by adding a pleasing crunch and tang to each bite of tender beef rib and rice.
The reality has finally been exposed. People from the neighbourhood have begun frequenting this low-key Korean restaurant, which was once a haven for displaced students craving a taste of home. The internet is to blame. Simply put Instagram to blame. Charge Facebook with responsibility. As a result of their extensive social media presence, a queue has formed for as many banchan (side dishes) as people can eat.
The Korean word "Hansang" means "table full of food," and that's exactly what you'll get. Most Korean meals consist of a protein, rice, and a variety of side dishes such as pickles (likely kimchi), salad, room temperature stir-fry, and pickled vegetables. On the other hand, Hansang guarantees to provide you with an array of dishes.
You could call it a gimmick if the food wasn't well-prepared and seasoned, complementing the "main" dishes rather than detracting from them. Nonetheless, there was zero filler, so every bite was a killer.
Irrational to not order from the set menu, which offers options for two people to dine for $60, three people to dine for $90, four people to dine for $120, and so on.
The staff will tell you to take whatever food you don't eat with you when you leave if you are unable to finish your meal. In our books, that counts as a win.
When the grilled and deboned whole mackerel finally makes it to the table, it's still steaming hot and served with an unnecessary soy and wasabi dipping sauce. The fish was carefully salted, and the charcoal made the edges nice and crunchy. It's meaty and comes apart easily when prodded with chopsticks.
Galbi jjim is a stew made with beef short ribs, tender carrot chunks, and thinly sliced onions, all served in the cooking liquid in which the meat was cooked. The sweetness of the sweet soy broth can be mitigated by serving it atop a bed of rice.
This bluestone building only has thirty seats, so don't be alarmed if swarms of people are waiting outside to gawk at your food like caged zoo animals.
After 6 o'clock, most restaurants require reservations or long waits if diners show up without them. Popular among Koreans, Hansang is known for its delicious food and the welcoming atmosphere it creates. Instead of feeling bloated and uncomfortable, you'll leave Hansang feeling nourished and satisfied.
You should visit Hansang so that you can be fed by the Korean mother you never had if your only exposure to Korean food consists of grilled meat and fried chicken.
Mr Lee's Foods
A good restaurant can be recognised by the fact that it is always packed, despite the fact that it has only 20 seats, is in the middle of a suburb, serves only three dishes, does not accept reservations, does not have a website, and does not advertise.
Mr. Lee's Foods in Ringwood is well worth the trip if pork is your thing. All of the dishes are made with parts of this magnificent animal, illuminating the cultural and subconscious economic traditions of Korean cuisine.
Melbourne Hwaro Korean BBQ
It's common knowledge that charcoal grilling gives meat a flavour that can't be achieved in any other way. There's a certain depth of smokey flavour that can only be achieved with charcoal, not with gas. A charcoal grill adds flavour that a gas grill can't match.
And this is why Hwaro, the Korean barbeque restaurant on Little Bourke Street, holds a special place in our hearts.
Seoul Soul Plus
Hot corn tea. It’s a real thing, and it tastes just as husky and buttery as it sounds. Sweet little pitchers of the staff are on hand to temper the spicy bulgogi burn at the newer, bigger, pinker branch of Seoul Soul.
There’s a little extra space here – two long communal tables run the room's length with small block partitions separating couples like groceries in the supermarket.
Corn-flavored hot tea. You can actually get your hands on this, and it tastes just like the description promises (nutty and buttery). For those who find the spicy bulgogi too much to handle, the newer, larger, and pinker Seoul Soul location offers sweet little pitchers of the staff's homemade iced tea.
There is some breathing room here; there are two long communal tables that span the length of the room, and there are small block partitions that separate the couples like groceries in a store.
You can get them in the form of wings that have been lightly battered and glazed with a sweet soy sauce; we're looking forwards to trying the Korean schnitzel next time.
Guhng The Palace
The communal nature of Korean barbeque is at the very core of the Korean dining experience, which is why Guhng makes sure their barbeque sets are spacious enough to accommodate large groups. This Angus set has enough meat to satisfy the appetites of four people who eat a lot of meat every day.
It all starts with an Angus cube roll that's evenly marbled and cut into pieces over a cast iron pot of glowing hot charcoal, and then you get a variety of lean and fatty cuts.
Yong Green Food
In late 2009, two vegetarian sisters named Seon Mi and Seon Joo Lee established Yong Green Foods in South Korea, a country notorious for its love of meat. The restaurant's almost immediate success can be attributed to the fusion of raw and whole foods from the cuisines of Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Mexico, and Italy that comprise its single menu.
Gami Chicken and Beer
To get the best deal at Gami Chicken, bring a big ol' gang. If you're going with a big group, you can get a keg of beer ($64 for 4 litres) and a whole chicken ($35, available in original, soy-garlic, or sweet chilli coated) to share. Look out, Colonel Sanders; here comes Gami.
Despite how tempting Korean barbeque and fried chicken may be, you should branch out and try some of the other delightful Korean dishes available. For its inception, Joomla can be credited to the lower levels of a nondescript office building on Swanston Street.
Many people don't realise it's a bar that serves food and soju until 5 in the morning because there is no visible sign indicating as much. Joomak is the place to go if you want an introduction to Korean drinking culture and an experience that will leave you wanting more.
Although there is a great deal of variety in the menu, I find that ordering a pancake and some side dishes allows me to make the most of my time in this establishment. It would be a mistake to forget the beverage.
Bonga is the most expensive restaurant on this list, but it also serves the best Korean barbeque in the city. It's best to visit the Born location on Little Bourke Street, one of two in Melbourne. The chain's mastermind, Baek Jong Won, is widely regarded as the most well-known chef in Korea, so it makes sense that he would be in charge of a franchise of a Korean barbeque restaurant.
Anyone who has heard of the infamous Hanwoo knows that it is unavailable outside of Korea. On the other hand, Bornga's Kkot Sal, made from a premium beef cut, is a delicious alternative that melts in your mouth.
It's no secret that barbeque, after a few bites, can start to feel a little greasy. That's why there ought to be a bottle of soju on the coffee table at all times. Cutting through the oiliness, it guarantees that your barbeque will go on without a hitch.
A total of 12 Korean eateries serve the Melbourne area. Based on cost, we've separated them into the following categories: The price for two people is only $30. (not including drinks). Spending $100 on a date night dinner is extravagant. Party animals Ryu and Min are coming to Jan Chi to spread their joy.
Soju, the national beverage, has an alcohol content ranging from 17 to 53 percent. Jan Chi's offers six pieces per order, which includes wings and drumsticks. Jung Chae, despite being confined to her tiny kitchen, puts on a captivating one-woman show with barely a sound. The speed with which the server plates your food is just as important as her crisp uniform and simple apron in creating an unforgettable fine dining experience. The word "Hansang" in Korean literally means "table full of food," and that's precisely what you'll get here.
You can count on getting a wide selection of dishes at Hansang. If you are unable to finish your meal, the staff will tell you to take the leftovers with you when you leave. Charcoal grilling imparts a flavour to meat that gas grilling can't match. There is nothing more fundamental to a Korean barbeque than the fact that it is shared with others. Sage, the restaurant's signature dish, is featured on the raw menu at Gami Chicken.
The best way to travel with a large group is with a keg of beer and a whole chicken. To get your feet wet in Korean drinking culture, Joomak is the place to go. The most expensive restaurant on this list is BornBonga, but if you're looking for the best Korean barbeque in Melbourne, look no further. Baek Jong Won, the man behind the chain's success, is widely considered the best chef in Korea. Kkot Sal, Bornga's alternative to traditional Korean barbeque, is prepared with a premium cut of beef.
- Melbourne is a great place to satisfy a craving for Korean food.
- Delicious food and welcoming atmospheres at these Korean restaurants in Melbourne will keep the celebration going strong.
- A total of 12 Korean eateries serve the Melbourne area.
- Possibly already mentioned, but we'll say it again: you need to get the braised short rib on the menu.
- Jan Chi is unlike any other Korean dining establishment.
- Since word of Chae's warm eatery spread, she has been unable to keep up with demand and has been forced to implement waitlists in anticipation of the opening of her second location in June.
- Complement it with some of the restaurant's signature fermented watermelon makgeolli, made in-house by executive chef and owner Jung Chae (rice wine).
- This low-key Korean restaurant, which was once a haven for displaced students craving a taste of home, is now popular amongst neighbours.
- The word "Hansang" in Korean literally means "table full of food," and that's precisely what you'll get here.
- Hwaro Korean Barbecue, located in Melbourne
- Charcoal grilling is universally acknowledged as the best way to bring out the meat's natural flavour.
- At the end of 2009, two sisters named Seon Mi and Seon Joo Lee founded Yong Green Foods in South Korea, a country with a reputation for its love of meat.
- Bring a large group to Gami Chicken to get the best price per person.
- It's important to venture beyond the tried-and-true Korean barbeque and fried chicken and sample the wide variety of other delicious options that Korea has to offer.
- The best Korean barbeque in town can be found at BornBonga, the priciest restaurant on this list.
- It makes sense that Baek Jong Won, the man behind the chain and arguably the most famous chef in Korea, would be in charge of a chain of Korean barbeque restaurants.
FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants
Popular Korean Dishes To Order At a Restaurant
- Gimbap (or Kimbap)
The idea of banchan dates back to Korean royal court cuisine, where a meal was said to be twelve dishes and accompanied with rice and soup. Today, banchan can consist of anywhere from two to twelve dishes, although cheaper restaurants serve less.
The word 감사 (gamsa) is a noun that means “gratitude” or “appreciation” in the Korean language. The 합니다 (hamnida) part means “to do''. Put them together, and you get 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida | to do thanks). You can use this phrase to express “thank you” in Korean in a restaurant, convenience store, or taxi.
Top Must-Try Foods in South Korea
- Red rice cakes (tteokbokki)
- Korean stew (jjigae)
- Korean fried chicken.
In formal Korean, there are two ways to say goodbye – one for the person who's leaving and the other for the person who's staying. If you're the one leaving, you say, 안녕히 계세요. [Annyeonghi gyeseyo.] meaning, "Stay well." Then, the other person will respond by saying, 안녕히 가세요.