160 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9654 3933
It was one of those Sat nights after a musical at the theatre, take a wander and a gander down Little Bourke St in Melbourne CBD. The throngs of drunken teens and queues outside seedy nightclubs all part of the street-scape in the city most nights. The signboards flicker enticingly with chinese characters seducing many adventurous tourists and locals alike into the lure of Chinatown delights. Yes, we are still talking about food here, lest your lecherous mind wonders. However, the Asians know better. We snake into the laneways and dark alleys in search of more authentic fare.
This day, S and I didn't want Sichuan, dumplings or the usual Chinese. For some reason, our nostrils were leading us down Lil Bourke as they were assailed with the smokiness of charcoal bbq and imagery of sizzling meat done the Jap way dipped in various condiments.
When we found our smoky source, I was surprised how alike the interior was to my Restaurant Story decor. Corny to say right up my alley? My disclaimer first of all is to declare my dislike of bbq/steamboat self-service restaurants. But something led me in there and made me order Kurobuta pork belly, Waygu beef, squid and mushrooms for bbq-ing. I blame it on the affable waiter all too happy and full of smiles to help.
To start off, we ordered an entree of sliced salmon sashimi.
The salmon was decent enough, very fresh and creamy almost in texture, but obviously not on the Koko radar. Completely acceptable with the thrill of wasabi soy sauce making a scintillating trail through the nostrils.
We also ordered soba, chilled buckwheat noodles dipped in soba tsuyu. A delightful distraction from the hot bbq, adding a whole different layer to the meal.
I do have to comment on the condiments. The dipping sauces on the whole were a hit and miss. The miso sauce was a bit too salty but the lighter terriyaki sauce was more than palatable. Frankly the meat freshly bbq-ed on the table seared over hot charcoal hardly needed accompaniment.
One of my main fears about eating at a cook-it-yourself bbq restaurant is the spitting oil from the cooking meats. Surprisingly it doesn't seem to affect me here. I don't know why or how, but I didn't suffer any sputtering drops.
|Mushrooms in garlic butter wrapped in tin foil was placed there first - longer cooking time|
It was absolutely worth the wait. Sooo yummy and cooked just right. The mushrooms were juicy, sweet with a hint of rich butter without overpowering it.
Get your tongs ready though...
Here comes the meat
|Kurobuta Pork Belly|
|Waygu Scotch Fillet|
ABSOLUTELY divine!! The quality of the meat was superb. The seared parts of the meat were slightly crunchy oozing with the juiciness of the silvers of fats as you bite into them. Think taste, not Lipitor as you savour the moment. Tender, flavoursome and decadent, I would choose quality over quantity any day. Dipped slightly in the caramalised bittersweet terriyaki sauce, it felt like heaven has landed in tongue central. A-meat-zing.
I kinda was hesitant about the squid thinking it's gonna be chewy for sure.
But it was just sublime. I truly believe the quality of the produce play a big part in the taste and chew factor. This is not an all-you-can-eat hovel of a restaurant. Their decent selection of cocktails, booth setups and excellent service makes it well worth a visit if you are planning on a good night out for dinner. There was a set menu for 4 people, which S and I are keen to try. We'll get a couple of friends (hoping they don't turn up) and order that very generous-looking set.
* The bill did take an unfathomable 25 min getting to us though...