I HAVE a crushing sense of regret about my time spent in South Korea.
I flew to Seoul a few days after my 18th birthday and I remember the chaotic city harried my senses with its neon signs and overpopulation.
I was too busy drinking and partying to appreciate the cuisine and ironically it wasn’t until I was at university back in Australia that I truly discovered Seoul in the ‘Little Korea’ district in Brisbane.
Wandering around Perth one afternoon I decided I could no longer ignore my cravings for Korean food, so I stopped for lunch at the Arirang restaurant on Barrack Street.
While I’m not totally averse to eating alone, my social anxieties were eased when I saw the large number of folk eating on their tod.
I was a little disappointed at the smaller lunch menu and eyed the array of delicious delights that were served at dinnertime.
Nevertheless, my appetite prevailed and I ordered the dolsot bibimbap with typical Korean sides of vegetables, kimchi and miso soup ($19).
I’ve always admired the unique beauty and complexity of the bibimbap, and the chefs at Arirang certainly delivered.
The foundation of a classic bibimbap is a bowl of steamed rice topped with pickled Korean vegetables and sliced meat, usually beef or chicken.
Added on top is a generous lashing of ‘gochujang’ (Korean chilli paste) and typically a raw egg.
It might sound like a flavour hotchpotch, but the magic lies in the large bowl the sizzling meal is presented in.
A satisfying stir of all the ingredients ensures the egg is cooked and all the flavours blend effortlessly together.
The bibimbap at Arirang was almost perfect, while the kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage) was delicious and authentic.
It was an enjoyable experience overall and after much Seoul-searching I think I’ve found somewhere to satisfy my Korean cravings.
by JASMINE KAZLAUSKAS
Arirang Korean barbecue restaurant
91/93 Barrack St