because I can't cook
Hwaro in the Melbourne CBD
|Address||562 Little Bourke Street
|Visited||10 December 2011|
Dining at Hwaro was certainly a delicious experience, but also much more hectic and confusing than I remembered it once was.
Started with the actual booking; it was convenient that I did not have to make a booking weeks or months in advance for a Saturday night spot. I did not get my first preference of 7pm but they did give me a 7.30pm table which was fine. However, on the day of the visit I was called twice; first to confirm my 7.30pm reservation and second to see if we could move it to 7pm, which I thought was a bit disorganised.
Then, arriving at the restaurant, originally seated at a small table for two, we were asked to move to a bigger table as soon as our kimchi set turned up. Not sure why they didn’t seat us at a bigger table to begin with, but I was just glad I didn’t have to wait for a table like many did that night.
My appetite was built further with the aroma of BBQ in the air. Just like most BBQ restaurants, it was kind of smokey inside (and outside wasn’t exactly better either since it was raining heavily that night), but it was not too much (that you’d find it hard to breath like you would at GoGi!).
Ordered that night were gal bi (beef ribs) and chilli pork belly BBQ (which was surprisingly not spicy at all!). Everything was divine; the kimchi was fresh, tasty, beautifully marinated, and the meats were of high quality that were cooked on charcoal grill to perfection and matched very well to the marinades and (sweet) sauces. On the side, kimchi pancake was ordered and served as a fine, salty vegetarian side dish that well complemented the BBQ. The portion of each dish was rather small - but sufficient - that it was ideal if you dine in small groups, so that you could enjoy many different BBQ meats and still be able to finish them all.
Service-wise, Hwaro scored okay; their staff was very skilful and quite friendly. It was just unfortunate that throughout our dinner, these staff approached us multiple times on their own initiatives only for one reason; to see if we were finished with our food/if they could take anything away. When we were actually finished with our mains we were approached yet again and asked to leave (!) because they were very busy. I would have understood if we had long finished our food and didn’t look like we were going to order some more, but we were literally just finished with our mains and craved dessert. After what to me felt like a negotiation, they were kind enough to let us stay but had to move us again to yet another table. And the dessert itself, green tea ice cream, was quite decent; plain ice cream with pretty strong green tea flavour though I did not think it was worth the hassle of moving to a different table.
Hwaro’s overall ambience was again, hectic and loud. On top of the need to constantly switch tables, the big crowd of customers, and their staff who kept on approaching us wanting to take away our ‘empty’ plates, there was also a birthday going on. So Hwaro was definitely not your elegant type of restaurant, but it was undoubtedly one for superb Korean BBQ.