In a continued effort to continue introducing my father to different cuisines other than Cantonese and Shanghainese, we recently visited By Korea on Victoria St in Richmond when I was down in Melbourne for my brother’s high school graduation ceremony. Korean cuisine isn’t one that my father has a lot of experience with, but given that he enjoyed looking through the photos of my recent trip to Seoul in 2014, he was happy to give this a try.
By Korea is better known for its BBQ offerings, with the restaurant completely decked out with in-table BBQs and overhead exhaust fans. However, we arrived quite early for a 5.30pm quick dinner as I was rushing to catch a 7.30pm flight that night. The restaurant was empty at that early hour, which meant that our waiter gave us his full attention, and was very helpful. We ordered a few shareable dishes from the main menu.
But first, drinks! My brother, asserting the fact that he’s now over 18 and a grown up requiring regular caffeine hits, ordered an iced coffee which was not dissimilar to the iced coffees that you can find in many Hong Kong style diners. I opted for a small can of Korean Grape soft drink which was sweet and fruity. Dad tried some and liked it so much that he’s actually since bought a 24-pack of this soft drink to have at home!
Some small banchan came out to whet our appetite, but before we even dug into it, our Beef Dolsot Bibimbob was delivered to our table. With a yolky runny egg on top and just the right mix of sweet soy and chilli, the bibimbob was fantastic value for the range of ingredients that are included with it.
It was quite a warm day, so Dad ordered the Cold Soup Noodle. With shaved ice floating in the slightly sour and tangy soup and a healthy garnish of sesame seeds, these proved to be a refreshing choice that really helped to cleanse the palate in between the slightly heavier and oilier other dishes we ordered.
Seafood Pancake is a must whenever I go to a Korean restaurant – though we probably should have ordered a small rather than a large as this proved too big for us to conquer with all the other dishes we ordered! It was lovely and crispy on the outside, but still wonderfully doughy on the inside. This is a dish that’s best eaten as soon as it gets delivered to your table though, as it can get quite oily depending on how long you leave it.
The highlight of the meal though, was the Fire Stir-Fried Chicken, topped with a generous serving of melted cheese. Though it was marked on the menu as having three chilli peppers (super hot!), I found the chicken surprisingly mild and sweet, and even my chilli-shy younger brother enjoyed it. Perhaps the suggested chilli blast was tempered by the melted cheese? Whatever the cause, I simply couldn’t stop myself from devouring piece after piece of this delicious chicken.
All in all, By Korea was a great way to introduce my father to Korean cuisine and to continue expanding his culinary experiences. They do an all-you-can-eat BBQ deal as well (from memory, around $39 per person on weeknights), which he’s keen to go back and try, so no doubt we’ll be back soon!