If you’ve never heard of Paik Jong-won, you clearly haven’t been to South Korea.
The celebrity chef has an extraordinary 5.5 million subscribers, and about 3,000 stores worldwide. But you don’t have to go to Korea to experience this man’s brilliance – he’s opened up a couple of stores down the road from each other in Melbourne.
Tucked away almost secretly down Little Lonsdale Street alongside some other excellent Korean restaurants, Paik’s Noodles and Paik’s BBQ Grill are only about 100 metres from each other. get lost took on the Noodle restaurant but if the queue is too long (and it gets pretty long) then head up the road to the Grill.
The first thing you notice about Paik’s is the size of the man’s thumb on the cartoon sign that you walk under as you go in. We’re unsure if this is to scale (see below, you be the judge) or if it would help him in the kitchen, but one things for sure – the people in this kitchen know their stuff.
Plate after plate of delicious, flavoursome cuisine fills the table – from delectable deep-fried pork to spicy noodles laced with oyster sauce that are cut with noodle scissors prior to eating, and a dazzling array of fresh vegetable dishes.
There’s also poktanju, where you drop a shot of soju into a beer and drink it quickly, like a Korean Jager bomb. It’s not too potent…unless you drink heaps of it.
Paik’s is an epic spot for dinner, a date, late-ish eats and more, and it’s pretty affordable too – a little more than a tenner will get you a dish. Just get there early – there’s often a queue out the front during busy times.