Friday 22 February 2013

Guhng (The Palace)

19, McKillop Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Guhng on Urbanspoon
This is arguably the Korean Barbeque place that sets the standard for a quality feed in Melbourne. It's also the priciest and doesn't apologise for it. Located in a street that's positioning itself to be the higher end of dining - this is not surprising.  The restaurant has 2 seatings in the evening and I would always book (just in case).

The Place
This is a well appointed restaurant that makes a real attempt at creating a pleasant ambience for dinners. The dim lighting is not so dark you have to guess what you are eating. It has an intimate feel without feeling cramped. They also manage their ventilation really well for a barbeque place and you (generally) don't come out smelling like a bbq pit.

Things to do nearby: Bourke Street Mall is not so far away and Collins Street is about 8 minutes in the other direction.

The Food
The food here is not cheap. One can get carried away quite easily and end up paying fine dining prices - in fact, this is likely to be the case 90% of the time. Even a set lunch for 2 is about $45.

For dinner - I would always recommend going with a group of people so you can order from the banquet menu. It usually comes with a range of condiments (as one would expect from a good Korean restaurant), hot pot (soup), a range of meats and some vegetables. However, the highlight for me here is always the marinated Pork Belly - yummmm.

At the same time, I have never felt bloated from over eating at Guhng (or left wanting more) - because the portion always just seems right with the banquet - they know their stuff.

I do have one comment about their desserts - the only way to describe it is Asian-inspired fusion of your range of ice-creams and panna cotta, oh! And green tea tiramisu - nothing traditional about the desserts here ... all not bad but dessert's not what I am here for generally. I am here for the quality meats and dishes.

The Service
Generally, the service here is above average, friendly and accommodating. However, ocassionally, you might get a newbie wait person who is less confident (and a bit nervous) and one of the others would usually step in to help. They also take time to come to your table to help you with the cooking ocassionally.

I would go here more often if it was less expensive - then I might get sick of it. So, it's probably a good thing, and a special place to get to every once in a while. It's a good place to take a small group of friends to share a pleasant evening. However, with 2 seatings, be aware that if you go at 6pm - they want you out by 8.00pm.

Cultural Moment
Chopsticks - can you use them? The Korean chopsticks are the real test as to whether you have it or not. I know this because I fail dismally - that's right. No one ever taught me how to use a pair of chopsticks properly. So while I am completely proficient in using it the WRONG way of crossing the chopsticks and am usually able to pick up the most slippery morsel, it doesn't change the fact that I am using them incorrectly.

Chinese and Vietnamese chopsticks are similar (longer, thicker with a blunt tapered end) and easiest to use. Some are squared while others are rounded sides. Japanese chopsticks are shorter and less thick (always rounded), and usually end in a point but are still relatively easy to use, if a bit more delicate.

Korean chopsticks are a completely different story! They are half moon shaped, as if someone decided that 1 chopstick was enough and then split it length wise into two - and voila - your pair of chopsticks - now, try to use them... I can't - primarily because I need to cross my sticks to pick anything up and Korean chopsticks can't be crossed. The best I can do with them is poke at something. I am a failure.

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