Korean food in still one of the better cuisines to eat in the CBD when you're on a budget. One of the more popular Korean dishes, especially amongst the uni students (myself once included) has definitely got to be the Korean Chilli Cheese Chicken. A dish my friends and I crave from time to time when I was in uni.
Essentially, it is grilled/fried chicken pieces served on a hot plate and topped with a mountain of gooey tasty mozzarella cheese. Never tasted it? Like I said, you'll be surprised by how damn popular it is, especially amongst the students. It ain't about gourmet eating when we were students...
Let's start off by Melbourne's most famous place for this dish: CJ Lunch Bar, before heading to a more recent establishment that's been gaining popularity for the same dish: Mook Ji Bar. Both are located in the CBD.
1) CJ Lunch Bar
The famous CJ Lunch Bar Cheese Chicken Bulgogi -- $16.50
Good but a tad oily, especially at the bottom
Budae Jjigae (or "Army Stew") -- $25.00
Most people struggle to comprehend the appeal in Army Stew. A kimchi based stew with a whole bunch of perishable foods, such as instant noodles, spam, hotdogs, macaroni, canned beans and even has sliced processed cheese too. It goes back to when this dish was created during the Korean War. Hence, the name, "Army Stew".
As much as people are repulsed by the very notion of this, I LOVE it. I like that it's got history. I like how it's a nice big dish to share. I like kimchi based soups. And I especially like that it's essentially got all the things that I secretly love (but really seldom eat) chucked into one.
For me, it comes down to the soup base, and the one here was delicious. Look, it really is a dish that you either love, or you don't. Question is, which side are you on?
2) Mook Ji Bar
Suun Du Bu Jjiage (or Spicy Seafood and Soft Tofu Stew) -- $15
Soup base was not bad but no ingredients besides tofu in this one lol
Chicken Bulgogi with Cheese -- $15
Slightly different version than the rest, where the ones here uses fried chicken wings instead of grilled chicken pieces
Tteokbokki -- $15
Dumpling Soup -- $12
I LOVE this dish here!! The dumplings were so silky and slippery and had a tasty, tender filling. The soup was light but peppery, highly addictive. Plus, it was a massive bowl too with so many dumplings. Very value for money. Will come back to order this again
3. Darac Grill & Bar
As for my overall thoughts on eating the beloved (to some) Chilli Cheese Chicken or Chicken Bulgogi with Cheese around Melbourne, I can see why CJ Lunch Bar is still most people's favourite go to place for this dish (including many of my friends). Tender and delicious, but I found it to be too oily. I can also see why Mook Ji Bar has got most people talking, especially with the use of fried chicken wings (who doens't love fried chicky wings?).
But, I thought the wings were so tiny and didn't like that the sauce was so thick and jam like that I couldn't help but be reminded of coagulated blood when I eat it. In the end, Darac is still my favourite. I like that it wasn't so overbearing with the cheese and that the chicken is grilled so perfectly that it's just so fragrant and delicious. I actually ate this dish at another Korean place in the CBD called Yumi Yumi (can you tell I eat a lot of Korean?) but I can't recall what it was like, so I'm guessing it's fairly average.
At the end of the day, it really does come down to preference. Is it a dish I am particularly a fan of? Probably not as much as my friends. I prefer something healthier. But it's nice to go to places that others enjoy and seeing them feel so happy from eating a dish they like is always a good thing for me.
So tell me, what are YOUR thoughts on this Korean dish? Yay or Nay? Let me know! =)