Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Winter Break ~ Melbourne: Korean BBQ kicks off Day 1

My Winter Break Vacay in Melbourne reunited me with my college buddies from Bangalore. Divya, Anita and I did our undergraduate journalism degree, graduating from Mount Carmel's College in '07. Having anticipated hooking up Down Under excitedly for three years together in Bangalore, we were finally living the dream! These girls are enrolled at Uni Melbourne and have been in the city for less than a month and lucky enough to already have a visit from moi!

They picked me up in their usual fashionably late style from Southern Cross at 7.00 p.m (half an hour late!) where my shuttle bus brought me into the city from Melbourne's Avalon Airport. After lugging my self and trolley bag on two buses and a plane to get to Melbourne from Adelaide, I was totally ready for a good meal... and that's exactly what I got at Grandma's Kimchi Korean Barbeque restaurant on Bourke Street.

We relished the hot Korean tea, I tasted merely to get rid of the cold chills of Melbourne, since I must admit that I am usually never inclined to drinking Japanese/ Chinese or Korean tea. This was however refreshingly light and crisp with a sake feel to it, you could really taste the rice through the tea! An array of the charachteristic kim chi that comes out before you order at Korean restaurants came out and we picked at them with our chopsitcks immediately. There was the pickeled cabbage and shredded vinegered cucumber and beansprouts and a bowl with lettuce and a dollop of thousand island dressing which I am familiar with. Most interesting was a pickeled aubergine that tasted like smoked meat with a rather mushroomy meaty texture. It really was different and delicious at that! The yellow cubes are boiled sweet potatoes.

I was curious about the Hae-Mul Pha-Joon (seafood pancake) and Divya who had a previously dissapointing expereince said it was remarkably different to the one she was served at another Korean establishment. The batter of the pancake is almost like a beer batter used to coat fish and stuffed with squid, octopus, onions, spring onions, carrots and spring onions and then deep fried. This was deceptively filling!

We ordered the terriyaki chicken and pork bulgogi, (thinly sliced meat with braised greens) avoiding the classic beef bulgogi since Anita does not consume it for religious reasons. The pork was great crisp on the top and succulent and juicy upon bitting through. In a nutshell - nothing elaborate, fancy or inventive - good, honest, simple food. And at $17 a head who am I to complain?

After relishing our Koren meal it was time to get some drinks going and celebrate old freinds meeting up in a new city!

Cho Gao - Vietnamese for 'Rice Market' is a popular spot for univeristy students and youngesters on the whole with tonnes of happy hour and ladies nights promos. Located in Melbourne Central Mall the downside however is they close down at 10.00 (on thursday nights) - which did not give me enough time to get a drink! By the time the girls decided on a cocktail and went up to order we were shocked to find out cocktails had 'run out' and they were closing in ten minutes. The ambience is pretty, music however too loud for a lounge and posters preclaimed the mud crabs - perhaps worth a visit in the future?!

For a change of setting I said goodbye to the sculpted budhas and the ambience of Cha Gao for a more downbeat, 'daggy' laneway bar - St. Jerome's. For three uptown city girls like us - this was quite the experience. One of Divya's uni mates brought us here... located off Lonsdale on 7 Caledonian Lane, the vibe is buzzing but extremely low key and no frills.

Yes - thats me sippining my Vodka Pineapple out of a plastic glass. After trying my luck with a couple of drinks of preference and being rejected several times I opted for a drink from my younger drinking days - good old vodka pineapple!

This picture captures the essence of St. Jeromes's - dumpsters converted into stands for outside heaters and graffiti walls!

A couple more shots of the 'ambience' this place affords! Unconcealed pipes and vines twirling around wild and free adds to the charm of St. Jeromes and what makes it so unique!

This guy in the wheelchair was incredible the way he would actually jump out of the chair hop around on one foot (barefoot mind you) with all the grease and grub from the last twenty years caught inbetween his toes, hair and face! And below - the outdoor bar...

This sculpture is somewhere on one of the buildings on a street around St. Jerome's. I came across it on our way out to hail a cab to the next party spot. Unfortunately my flash is not on so it is not the best quality. But I think the beauty of it comes through anyhow.

Lotus bar-lounge-restaurant on 172 Toorak Road, South Yarra was the last stop for the day. A pretty cool nightclub, thursdays are hip hop nights - perfect for my crumping moves!

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