by STEPHEN POLLOCK:
Going for a pre-gig meal is always a bit of quandary.
Eat something light and end up getting a Maccas on the way home, or over-indulge and accompany the band with your anal rumbles.
We banked on a quick Korean meal before watching Steve Vai fondle his guitar at the Concert Hall.
Poppo is a small restaurant hemmed in by shopfronts at the bridge-end of Barrack Street.
It won’t win any gongs for it’s dainty filigree or ermine seat covers, but it’s ebullient and has a certain stowaway charm.
The menu was a mix of Korean and Japanese dishes and included western favourites (chicken katsu, tuna roll) and some curveballs (a fusion dish with sausage and baked beans!).
For an entree the three of us shared baked salmon roll ($15) and two serves of dumplings ($3).
My teacher mate Ashley enjoyed the bastardised sushi.
“A thin layer of salmon was draped over the top of each piece, and briefly seared, adding a delicious smoky flavour to the otherwise standard California combo,” she mused.
“Drizzled with honey mustard sauce and accompanied by pickled ginger and wasabi, I was impressed by both the presentation and flavour.”
The vegie dumplings were bland: shrivelled, deep-fried hunks of soybean curd, onion and leek.
Their flavour was salvaged by the rich soy dipping sauce.
For mains, my muso chum Banner ordered the popular Korean dish beef bulgogi ($15).
The dish was compartmentalised—like a bento box or airplane meal—with the rice, miso, meat and condiments in separate receptacles.
He wolfed down the heap of marinated beef on the cast iron hot plate, and enjoyed experimenting with the kim chi, pickled bean sprouts and radish relish.
“An enjoyable meal slurped down with the house brew of hot barley tea,” grinned Banner, as he discussed what leather trousers Vai might wear.
By 6.30pm the restaurant was heaving, and Ashley was tackling her adventurous dduk bulgogi ($15): it was a meaty broth which was crammed with beef, clear noodles, tofu, mushrooms and vegetables.
“The dish came in its own cast iron pot, rapidly bubbling away when presented to the table,” she said.
“The thin slivers of beef were deliciously tender and the soup was surprisingly sweet.
“Light yet flavoursome, this soup was just the ticket for a cold winter evening out.”
Like a fat roadie with emphysema, I brought up the rear with jaeyuk pokkum ($15): a moreish combination of sweet chilli and stir-fry pork.
I’ve not been exposed to much Korean cuisine—aside from those gimmicky places where you cook your own meat at the table—but Poppo was unpretentious, tasty and cheap—unlike Vai’s cyborg outfit.
Perfect for a shopping pitstop, or quick meal before hitting the town.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK
137 Barrack Street, Perth