A place that constantly has me coming back for more...
I always tell my friends that there's hardly any good/affordable/Japanese restaurants for dinner in the CBD. Choices are SO limited, unlike Korean food. There's SO many good Korean restaurants to choose from and I can always easily think of a handful of places that I normally eat at off the top of my head. It is quite possibly the cuisine that I eat the most of in Melbourne, seriously. And I'm NOT just talking about Korean BBQs...
Obviously, there are "famous" Japanese establishments like Yu-U and Izakaya Den but these places are out of the question/budget because I'm referring to the affordable/dinner/CBD category. I don't want anything "fancy" on a casual, weeknight catchup with friends. Of course, I'm not ruling out Jap cuisine completely because there are a few places that I do like and will be blogging about soon (so stay tuned ;p).
That's why when it comes to the Melbourne CBD, I honestly believe that:
Korean Food >>>>> Japanese Food
Love the casual vibe here...
Anyway, lots of Korean eating for me in Melbourne and I often find there's something I like about each of them, even though they can be quite similar. But out of all of them, I really do think that Darac is the one that stands out the most, for so many reasons.
There's a number of specialties and dishes that they do differently here, which makes it absolutely delicious. I always find myself coming back and bringing different groups of friends with me to try when I can. It is for this reason why I'm including Darac Grill & Bar in my series of favourite things to eat around Melbourne, called "Wince's Faves" =)
First thing you'll notice about these takoyakis is how soft and creamy they are, almost like mashed potato, but still crispy on the outside. I don't know what flour they use here, but it's so delicious, especially with the Jap Mayo/BBQ Sauce and refreshing salad.
A dish we ALWAYS order when we're here... Yum!
Torched (Aburi) Sashimi & Unagi
Aburi Salmon was good, with a tender yet chewy texture. Though, I wish they had some sort of glaze to give it more flavour when torched. Still, not bad. Torching the unagi brought out more flavour and fragrance too.
Seafood Spring Onion Pancake
How beautiful does this look, compared to your usual round pancake? Common Korean dish but what sets this apart (besides its presentation) really is the generous ingredients. So much spring onion and when they say seafood, they really mean lots of actual seafood like calamari, prawns, clams and so on. Again, the flour they use here is so soft and creamy -- I love it!
Ox Tongue Salad
Nice, chewy muscle that's slightly thicker than the ones you get in most places, but just right for me. Slightly sweet on the outside too. Enjoyed this.
Cheese Fire Chicken
My initial thoughts were, "Wah... SATAY!". Like, the Malaysian/Indonesian BBQ meat skewers. Never had a dish in Melbourne that had as intense of a char fragrance (not flavour) than this where it really hits you this instantly. Absolutely delicious with the melted cheese and slightly spicy marinade too.
I brought another friend here last week too and "SATAY" was the first thing that popped in her mind. Yuuuuum... So I guess it's actually quite apparent since I'm not the only one who thought so ;p
They do one of the better Bibimbaps... Even after mixing them together, the flavour of each ingredient was still pronounced, especially the egg for some reason. So tasty even without the sauce...
LOVE the generous amount of ingredients to rice ratio, delicious...
But, best part for me has to be the slightly hard, tough, chewy, burnt rice at the bottom. Perfection... LOVE this!
Pork Army Stew
YUP... The Army Stews are another specialty of the restaurant! A soup dish that's been part of the Korean culture ever since the war, when I assume food was scarce and hence, a lot of sausages, ham, spam, canned beans, ramen noodles, etc was consumed in this way.
I find it to be almost like the "Ratatouille" of Korean food. Simple, hearty and DELICIOUS!
Very good, strong and tasty Kimchi and tomato base... I think the main reason I like this is also because you experience so much of the culture from this dish alone. By eating such a humble and traditional dish, really can't help but wonder what life was like for them during those times...
All our favourite canned food in one bowl... They also had sliced cheese in there too!
"Soon Du Bu" aka Seafood with Soft Tofu Stew
(taken with iPhone)
Ohhhh... One of my ultimate favourite dishes to have. I have this almost every time I eat Korean food. My friend and I love it so much that we pretty much "unofficially" started a "Soon Du Bu Appreciation Society" where we would try as many Soon Du Bu around Melbourne as we can... It's really FUN lol!
The one here is very different from the rest too. First, it had a stronger tomato base. But also, they proved to be extremely generous with their seafood and ingredients again! The soup had a natural sweetness I don't get from other restaurants from all the seafood and vegetables... Great!
Lunch Special with Tofu Steak, Pork Cutlet and Yaki Noodle (Regular) -- $10.50
(taken with iPhone)
As much as I love the dinner, the Lunch Specials are seriously awesome too!!! And so darn cheap for the portion we get. Not to mention how delicious everything is. This was much filling than it looks and it was only Regular size. My favourite is the Tofu Steak!
Lunch Special with Spicy Pork Bulgoki, Soba Noodle Salad and Yaki Noodle (large) -- $12.50
(taken with iPhone)
Guys... This was absolutely MASSIVE. For all you big, big eaters out there, this is just the lunch for you. They really piled on the meat and carbs but I'm sure the guys won't complain. Pork Bulgoki was simply tasty and delicious to eat.
Great place to duck in for lunch in the CBD!
(taken with iPhone)
One of the many, many good times that was had over good food and great company at this restaurant...
Happy days! =)
As you can see, whether it's for the Takoyaki Salad, Cheese Fire Chicken, Army Stew or even the Lunch Set, there really are a lot of reasons why I keep coming back and never getting bored of Darac.
To me, it really is an ideal place for friends to meet (whether it's for a simple catch up, birthday, farewell or any other occasion) while eating delicious and affordable food in a comfortable environment... If you haven't tried this place before, go! And when you do, let me know too cause I'd love to join so I can eat here again! ;p