STORIES OF HWARO
MELBOURNE KOREAN STYLE BBQ
THE EXPERIENCE ENJOY CULTURE OF KOREA IN MELBOURNE
Melbourne Hwaro Korean BBQ is a place where one can fully enjoy that authentic Korean taste. Located in the CBD the restaurant is always full, even on the weekdays, as the smell of the BBQ floats down from the terrance stopping people in their tracks.
Just like mother used to make
Taste is something Hwaro is particular about. Taste is what owner and chef Eunsook Kim is mostly concerned with. Her dignified and somber character, reminds many people of their own mothers.
Kim herself is essential to Hwaro. The preparations for all the meat and sauce available at Hwaro are handled by Kim alone. This includes supervision of the slicing of the Karubi (boneless short ribs), and preparation of the 23 different ingredients* needed for the hot pepper Sangyu Pusaru seasoning. Nearly all of the seasonings lined up on the tables are Kim's own creations.
There are also seasonings that have a traditional Korean home style taste that Kim inherited from her mother. When preparing these traditional Korean seasoning, first the sauce is made and allowed to mature for one to two days. The meat is then placed in the sauce and again left to mature. Lastly, the meat is cooked in the traditional Korean style, barbecued over coals. This process alone takes a lot of time. We're lucky to be able to enjoy these seasonings so easily at Hwaro as we're told that these traditions stem from cuisines from the Korean imperial courts.
A slave to the taste
Kim didn't like beer very much before, but since coming across Kirin Megumi we hear she has two glasses everyday after work with her younger sister. Kim says "I'm totally addicted to it now. It's got really great flavour. I really love it, and I want to recommend it to my customers as well."
The first time I tried it myself, I got a sense of how easy it was to drink. Just like when you drink a coffee, you can feel the deep flavour, charm, and smooth taste.
Hwaro uses coals of the highest quality ordered from Tasmania and Korea, copper grills for health reasons. One of the Korean traditions is that usually the staff will grill and cut up the meat using scissors for the customers. This is so the customers are free to eat as they please.
Working around the clock in the pursuit of cleanliness
Hwaro isn't just particular about their ingredients and cooking, they are also highly concerned for their customers. Kim says "I believe it's our duty to put our hearts into our food, and to give it our all to provide a clean environment and an enjoyable atmosphere for the customers that come to our restaurant.".
A great deal of care is taken for hygiene. The restaurant always receives an A+ hygiene ranking. This ranking is equivalent to hygiene levels found at high class hotels. After being hand and machine washed, tableware is further disinfected using boiling water and then dried. Even a single spoon or cup is handled in the same way.
Kim goes on to say "We never use anything that's been handled unless it's been disinfected. It might take a little more time, but we put our best forward everyday for out customers."
Bringing generations of flavour to the people of Melbourne
With all the many varieties of national cuisines available in Melbourne, Kim wanted to try her hand at traditional Korean BBQ. It's now been around 7 years since she opened Hwaro.
Kim says "I'm very satisfied, and it's all thanks to people of many different nationalities eating our food. At Hwaro we don't use any preservatives, colouring, or chemical seasoning. We use good ingredients and barbecue good meat over a coal fire using traditional Korean methods."
Korean cooking is also good for your health. The abundant lactic acid bacteria in kimchi strengthening your immunity is but one example.
There are currently plans for opening yet another restaurant in the city. Kim says "Many customers seemed to enjoy eating Korean food. I want to make Korean food even more popular for the sake of those customers.
At the new restaurant we will meet different kinds of customers, and we want present them with new Korean foods that we couldn't show them at Hwaro. I want everyone to know about Korea."
Melbourne Hwaro Korean BBQ is a place where one can fully enjoy that authentic Korean taste. Located in the CBD the restaurant is always full, even on the weekdays, as the smell of the BBQ floats down from the terrace stopping people in their tracks. To see more about Melbourne Hwaro Korean BBQ, please visit:
The menu has also recently been updated. "I want the customers to relish the additions to the menu which are meats of the highest quality like Wagyu beef, high grade fillet, and high grade Karubi.
And as I said before, we season them as they are using traditional Korean methods. Furthermore we're using the original seasoning and sauce handed down for generations in my family. There are various flavours within Korean Bulgogi. Customers who try our Bulgogi say they think ours is somewhat different.
This seasoning is the pride of Hwaro, and of course it is made using traditional Korean methods. Please come to Hwaro and taste the many flavours for yourself."
SO GALBI GUI [GRILLED BEEF RIBS]
MARINATED, CHARGRILLED SHORT RIBS
The legendary Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore once described Korea as “a bright light of the East.” His intention was to highlight the splendid culture, as well as the national characteristics of creativity and courtesy. The tradition of Korean food (Hansik) developed over 5,000 years of human habitation in the Korean Peninsula, driven by a large variety of foods available over the four distinct seasons. This tradition embodies the cheerfulness and grace of the Korean people. The legendary Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore once described Korea as “a bright light of the East.” His intention was to highlight the splendid culture, as well as the national characteristics of creativity and courtesy. The tradition of Korean food (Hansik) developed over 5,000 years of human habitation in the Korean Peninsula, driven by a large variety of foods available over the four distinct seasons. This tradition embodies the cheerfulness and grace of the Korean people.
The diverse types of Jang (salted and fermented pastes or sauces) that make up the core seasonings for preparing Korean food are healthy fermented foods created through a long period of fermentation, known in Korean as “Jangdokdae” culture. In his book «The Third Wave», Alvin Toffler described the first flavor as salt, the second flavor as sauce, and projected that the third will be fermented food. In its March 2006 issue, the American monthly magazine «Health» designated kimchi, Korea’s most famous fermented dish, as one of the world’s five healthiest foods.
SUWON-GALBI, FAMOUS FOR GENEROUS SERVINGS
Sogalbi-gui (grilled beef ribs) refers to marinated beef short ribs grilled over a charcoal stove on the table. Tender ribs of young cattle are considered best for Sogalbi-gui. In the past, the ribs used to be marinated in a light colored and saltier soy sauce known as ‘Joseon ganjang.’ Nowadays, the darker regular soy sauce is used with some salt. The marinating process is skipped altogether for Saenggalbi-gui (un-marinated grilled beef ribs).
Sogalbi-gui is cooked on a grill, which is placed over fine-textured oak charcoal at a red-hot temperature. Its biggest appeal is the smoky flavor from the charcoal. It is crucial to skillfully score the ribs in order to allow the meat to be thoroughly marinated and grilled without burning. Great care is required as it is not easy to butterfly and score the meat and still keep it attached to the bone. Suwon in Gyeonggi Province is especially famous for Sogalbi-gui. It is said that Hwachunok, which opened in the Yeongdong Market in Paldal-gu in the 1940s, was known as the first Sogalbi-gui restaurant in the region. It is not in business anymore, but the secret to its unique flavor remains, characterized by its method of using salt and sweet pear juice instead of soy sauce. Suwon-galbi, sectioned with an axe, is very large, and the meat attached on both sides of the ribs provides for generous servings.
HAEUNDAE-GALBI AND IDONG-GALBI
Haeundae, Busan is also a famous Galbi town. Marinated Haeundae Galbi is not cooked on a grill but on a steel plate. The beef juice left on the plate is delicious when mixed with rice. Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, was once home to many military bases. Targeting mothers who wanted to feed their sons while on military leave, a number of Galbi restaurants sprouted up in the area. These restaurants are known as ‘Idong-galbi,’ and are famous for their moderate price and generous portions.
THE MENU OF CHOICE ON SPECIAL DAYS
Even today, the expensive Sogalbi-gui is reserved for special occasions. In fact, it was only in the 1980s, when the nation became relatively affluent, that average Koreans could afford to dine out at Galbi restaurants. At the time, many Galbi restaurants opened in the outskirts of big cities, invariably including the word ‘garden’ or ‘park’ in their name. People donned their best clothes and celebrated special occasions at galbi ‘gardens’ and ‘parks,’ and were seen leaving with toothpicks dangling from their mouths. The conspicuous use of toothpicks was a way to show off and let everyone know that they had dined on Galbi.
Ground Floor 562 Lt. Bourke St. Melbourne VIC 3000