Don Don Korean BBQ is still somewhat an underrated little Korean restaurant. It’s located on the other end of Hindley Street, far away from the hustle and bustle of the many clubs and bars the street is known for. Prior to coming here. a friend said they recently announced on their Facebook page, that they had updated their all-you-can-eat buffet menu for Korean barbecue.
There is nothing too flash about the decor and it is all very minimalistic and simple. There are about four black wooden tables that fit groups of four, and one large communal table that will fit a group of about twelve. It is a great place to eat with a large group of friends, however the seating arrangements are quite limited, so it is best to go a little early on Friday and Saturday nights in order to a secure seating for your group.
The Skinless Pork Belly was of a very high quality and there was a perfect ratio of creamy white fat and lean red meat. Cooked through well, the pork belly produces rich flavours and colours that were nicely caramelized. The pork belly just simply melts in your mouth. The Wagyu Beef cooks very quickly as it is pre-cut into small pieces and was also very lean, delicious and tender. Once cooked through, the meat had a prominent sweetness with a tasty umami flavour.
The Spicy Bulgogi would definitely have to be the tastiest meat we barbequed on the night. It had a real kick to it with the heat predominantly coming from the Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) and red pepper flakes. However, the marinade was well balanced with the sweetness of the sugar. Absolutely full of flavour and a real punchy dish, though it may be a little spicy for some. Definitely worth the try as it is a very good interpretation of the classic Korean stir-fried beef dish.
The marinade for the Baby Octopus was quite similar to the one used for the spicy bulgogi with the presence of the Gochujang, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Comparably, it was more toned down, though there was still nice heat to it. Some people may be afraid of octopus but it’s worth a try. It is enjoyably chewy and naturally tender. It is the perfect harmonization of fresh, high-quality seafood and spiciness.
The Spicy Tofu Soup was really comforting, delicious and hearty. It was a full-bodied combination of meat, vegetables and seafood, and of course the special spicy seasoning, which is a characteristic of traditional Korean cooking. I thought the dish could have been a bit more spicier. It lacked the real oomph and heat that should have been present from the hot pepper paste and flakes. The chef seemed to be very light handed with both of these key ingredients. An almost perfect dish if it was for the lack of heat.
The Kim Chi Soup was a similar looking dish to the previous soup but it is unique and one of Korea’s most famous. It was a very nourishing and spicy soup that was warm and comforting with the abundance of tender pork, vegetables and tofu. It packed a real punch and was a perfect concoction of the silky tofu with complex flavours and seasoning. It was very tasty.
The Kim Chi was perfectly spicy with it’s fermented chilli peppers and vegetables. The tastiest Kim Chi I’ve had at any Korean restaurant so far.
The Bibimbap was a well-executed interpretation of the traditional mixed rice, beef and vegetable dish. Like many Korean dishes this also had Gochujang. The rice became golden and crispy, and the meat was tender as a result of heat being omitted from the dolsot (hot stone bowl). The only thing I would have preferred was that the egg be freshly cracked instead of being presented as sliced up omelette. The runny yolk integrates well with the rest of the ingredients in the dish. Nonetheless this is not a major flaw to the dish rather just a preference.
The waitresses were very polite, prompt and helpful. They regularly came to assist us in the cooking process, cutting up the meat, as well as regularly cleaning the grill. The owner I presumed also came over several times to make sure everything was going well. Although about halfway through dinner, a drop of hot oil from the grill went flying and landed under the delicate skin under my eye, narrowly missing my left eye. The staff were very apologetic even though it was not their fault, but my group and I had our drinks taken off the final bill because of the incident, which was very nice of them. We went on a Tuesday night so it was not very packed but I can imagine it be buzzing on the weekend. It is very good value for money considering the varied high-quality meats and was only $29.90 (child $14.90) on weekdays and $31.90 (child $15.90) on weekends for a 120 minute session. This was the most authentic Korean barbeque restaurant I have been to so far in Adelaide and I will definitely be back very soon.
Words and Photos by Linh Nguyen
WHERE: 184 Hindley St, Adelaide