Mr. Bulgogi is a recently established Korean restaurant in the suburb of Mawson Lakes. It is where Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Golden, used to be located. Here they serve all the typical Korean dishes such as tteokbokki/ddeokbokki (spicy Korean rice cakes), beef and spicy pork bulgogi, and Korean style to-share hot pots such as kim chi pork ribs. They also have an extensive list of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks including Asahi beer and a variety of traditional liquors such as soju. The point of difference here is that they also do an assortment of Korean fried chicken dishes, and a variety of salads such as soba salads. Part of the name of the restaurant, ‘bulgogi’, means grilled marinated beef or pork and is a distinctive and very popular dish of Korean cuisine.
The décor is very minimalistic but contemporary and sleek, and can seat up to 35 people. It is not a very large restaurant but not very small either. Although on Fridays and Saturdays I have heard that it gets packed very quickly so it is best to book in advance or come earlier to secure a table for your group.
We asked the waitress if it was possible to do half-half so we could get half a serving of the Yangnyeom fried chicken and the other half of Ganjang fried chicken. I only have had Korean fried chicken at a takeaway restaurant called Chicken Coop on Glynburn Road so I do not have much to compare other than this. However, I much prefer the chicken here over what they offer at Chicken Coop. At Mr. Bulgogi the chicken drumsticks and wings are much bigger in portion, comparably more succulent and juicier, and the batter used to coat the chicken had a more delicious punch of seasoning. It was also much more golden brown in colour and far crispier with comparably much lower amount of oiliness. The Yangnyeom fried chicken was covered in a brightly coloured red sticky glaze (made up of the Korean red pepper paste gochujang). It was sweet with a little kick of spice and was tender. And the garlic-based soy sauce Gangjang fried chicken was equally tender and delicious. The other major difference I found between Mr. Bulgogi’s fried chicken and that of Chicken Coop’s is that here they don’t over smother or under glaze the marinade which sometimes tends to be case at Chicken Coop. So it was not too sickly sweet but yet not too dry either.
The Jokbal Salad was the surprise favourite dish of the night amongst my friends. The glazed pork hock was perfectly cooked as it was very meaty and moist. It was nicely braised in a soy sauce and spices with garlic and ginger the two spices that I immediately picked up. The chopped up kim chi also added its distinctive zesty and spicy fermented flavour to the dish. The spicy sauce wonderfully tied all the elements of the dish together. It actually punched in a bit of more spice than I expected which I liked.
The bulgogi dish was much more spicier than at other restaurants which I liked a lot. The spicier the better. The key to the dish was not only how it was cooked but the balance of flavours from the marinade that included soy sauce, garlic, sugar, ginger, rice wine, sesame oil and of course the distinctive flavouring from the gochujang paste. The pork here was excellently marinated with the correct balance and harmony of all these spices and condiments. It was a spicy pork bulgogi done well.
The staff were pleasant and efficient. The food was very authentically Korean and both my friends whom I dined with have eaten at Korean restaurants here in Australia and in Korea, and they could vouch for its authenticity. Although it is a little pricier than other similar Korean restaurants by a few dollars or so for certain dishes such as the tteokbokki/ddeokbokki and the stews. However, the portions are quite reasonable and we actually still had food left over that we ended up putting them in take away boxes. I am looking forward to my very near future visits to try out the other dishes they have on offer.
Words and Photos by Linh Nguyen
WHERE: Shop 1, 32-36 Metro Parade, Mawson Lakes