Namoo Korean BBQ, Perth CBD
Perth's newest Korean BBQ restaurant distinguishes itself with a signature dish that is pure porkapalooza: 8 flavours of pork belly.
I found out about Namoo from my sister Juji, who ate here with her hubby recently during the restaurant's first week of trade. They were keen to return, and as soon as I heard the words "8 flavours of pork belly", I was in.
The table of plenty you always end up with at Korean BBQ both delights and frustrates me; so many plates and bowls of tasty things on a table that always feels too small and requires constant rearranging to accommodate new arrivals. Namoo's banchan (side dishes) includes the traditional favourites: mung bean sprouts in sesame oil, sweet and sour pickled sliced daikon (radish), and housemade kimchi. We got through the bean sprouts quickly and asked for more, which was no problem at all.
Our first course was the beef bulgogi BBQ (AU$33) - strips of marinated beef with fresh enoki and oyster mushrooms, which our waiter placed on the grill plate to cook, pouring the marinade on top. If you're squeamish about fat, be warned - although the beef's thinly sliced, it's rippled with (delicious) fat.
The palsaik ("8 colours") set is great value at $59.80: you get a spectacular rainbow of pork belly - wine, original, ginseng, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste and hot (red pepper paste); seafood soybean paste stew; 2 steamed rice (we ordered extra for our table); spring onion salad and assorted vegetables, including whole cloves of garlic we cooked on the hot plate. If 8 flavours is too much or not enough, you can order your choice of 4 pork belly flavours for $19.80.
My favourite flavours were wine, garlic, curry and miso paste. We followed the recommended order, starting with wine and ending with "hot".
The tongs and scissors are essential tools for turning and cutting the strips of meat. You'll be given a daikon cube on a stick to use as a brush for the hot plate - it works remarkably well.
Our seafood stew was almost forgotten, but once we alerted the staff and cleared a space on our table, a portable stove and pot of stew appeared like magic. It's an enticing hot pot loaded with treasure that includes whole king prawns, squid rings, mussels, tofu and Chinese cabbage.
With the flame underneath, the fiery stew was soon bubbling furiously. It's a spicy soup and afterwards, I kept finding chilli bits between my teeth. It's the kind of heat that sneaks up on you, hitting you in the back of the throat after you've taken your first mouthfuls and told your friends, "It's not that hot!" If you're like me and no chilli-eating champion, make sure you've got a cold drink on stand-by.
Our meal, including a bottle of Shoju, cost the four of us around AU$30 each. We emerged with all the signs of successful Korean BBQ feasting: happy smiles and rounder bellies than when we first sat down, hair and clothes smelling like garlic and BBQ smoke, me with glasses and camera lens splattered with fat and spicy seafood stew - nothing a good wipe couldn't fix.
According to the banner at the restaurant's entrance, Perth's the eighth palsaik restaurant location, after Beijing, Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo, Taiwan, Los Angeles and Melbourne (ChangGo on Little La Trobe Street) - I reckon it'll take local pork lovers by storm. There are 8 deadly sins at Perth's newest Korean BBQ restaurant, and they're all gluttony.
Namoo Korean BBQ
Shop 1, 580 Hay Street (Equus Arcade - enter via Barrack Street)
Open 7 days
Lunch 12pm to 3pm, dinner 5.30pm to late
Fully licensed; BYO wine only