Sunday, June 19, 2011

Butterfingers & Banchan


A little drive up to Hillary's during a warm winter's day.

I don't know if it was just the psychological effect of being physically distanced from uni, or if the air is just cleaner once you get that far from Perth - but I just felt like I could breathe better out there. Simply being somewhere new and unfamiliar (albeit 30 minutes from the CBD) was enough to help me relax for a day, and escape from that horrible, drowning, sinking, bleeding, dying feeling that is being a law student. 

The weather was perfect for an drive up the coast; crisp, clear, cool and sunny. The sunlight gave the Harbour that postcard-like quality where everything looks really bright, clean and colourful - perhaps it was just the painkillers I was on that afternoon. But either way. 

Me and Michèl had a stroll around the touristy shops for a while, did some window shopping, I walked into a pole or two (I'd been sick in bed the whole week). Made a pit stop at one of those stalls that sells English candybars (Cadbury Bournville Dark Chocolate bar for me, Nestlé Butterfinger for him), then looped around the Harbour.

At coffee o'clock, I picked Dôme, which was right on the water. Normally I wouldn't choose somewhere like Dôme, but on this day I was craving some super-sweet, super-strong chai -  something Dôme does particularly well. My Soy Chai Latte ($4.3) was beautifully smooth and came with a velvety cap dusted with plenty of cinnamon sugar. I scooped it up in seconds, and the rest of the intensely syrupy chai was a treat with my bittersweet dark chocolate. Michèl had the Mango Fandango ($6.4) made with milk, ice, mango puree, and natural yoghurt.

Afterwards, we took the freeway back into the city in search of dinner. Eventually it came down to a choice between Airirang and Took Bae Kee 2 on Barrack Street (there's another Took Bae Kee is in the city somewhere). Deciding factors were degree of fanciness (I was wearing my Pharell Williams shirt-dress and a grubby jacket) and price, so Took Bae Kee 2 was the winner. 

It was definitely a good decision - this place is great value for money and the service is excellent. It was pretty busy and crowded, but we managed to get a seat in less than 10 minutes thanks to some swift table-clearing and attentive waitresses. And bonus points for the quintessential asian water containers and adorable little spoon-envelopes.


Shortly after ordering, we were presented with some Korean side dishes and condiments to go with our meal. But after bringing out three plates, the waitress just kept going...

... and going...

... and going...

... until our table looked like this:

Pretty good, huh?

All of these little side dishes are actually called Banchan (반찬). My favourites were the seasoned steamed bean sprouts, the sweet and sticky soy beans and of course, the kimchi. I heart variety in my food, so this meal was such a joy.

What I really liked about Took Bae Kee was the way the food was served. A smiling little Korean lady came to our table with a trolley laden with all of our little dishes, a pair of tongs, and a huge silver platter with big, thick strips of pork. Then she cooked the meat and assorted vegetables on the hot BBQ plate right in front of us, flipping and cutting and poking until it was just cooked. 

Then she gave us a demo of how to assemble our food - which was great, because me and Michèl were about to start eating it all separately. She took a lettuce leaf, lay some of the meat in it, spread some of each of the little sauces, added some seaweed and other bits and pieces and voilà! I had loads of fun making my own little lettuce rolls. Who says playing with your food is a bad thing?

I love how Korean food always seems to taste so healthy and wholesome. Nothing was over-seasoned; in fact I think our vegetables were completely plain, and they still tasted yummy eaten together with the other ingredients. I haven't eaten enough Korean food in my life to be able to give a well-informed verdict on how good this meal was, but it was definitely good enough for me to want to go back there again. Since this post is so outrageously late, I can't even remember what the name of our order was, but the whole thing came for less than $20 each.  

감사합니다 :)

The night ended with a big slice of Gluten-Free Banana & Blueberry Dessert Pizza before bed, made with lashings of condensed milk, especially for me by the head pastry chef at Baketopia.

Lucky me.   

Took Bae Kee II on Urbanspoon