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When you hear the name ChangGo, one of two things are likely to transpire. A. You think of it as just another Korean restaurant or B. You don’t think anything of it. But what if I said that ChangGo is home to 8 different flavours of pork belly? That’s right, EIGHT! I bet that got your attention. When Chugasm first brought this up, several thoughts ran through my mind: from oh the horror, so much fatty fat fat to oh the horror, so much fatty goodness. An image of Homer Simpson salivating over bacon also came to mind.
Two weeks later, a booking was made and Thehouseofem, Meow meow, myself and Chugasm found ourselves meeting outside the dungeon-like opening before heading in as a group.
Note. Be sure to book, because this place fills out very quickly, as we witnessed on a Thursday night. Groups of no larger than 4 appear to be most ideal with the majority of the tables being 4-seaters.
The seats lifted up to reveal what appeared to be a chest underneath where you could place your coats and other belongings. It is a simple but clever concept because it not only saved on space (very minimal in this restaurant) but also provided some degree of smell-proofing. That way you don’t go away smelling too much like BBQ on your commute home.
Onto the food…
The 8 flavours of pork belly (Palsaik set) was a given. The set included the 8 different flavoured pork bellies, seafood soybean paste stew, 2 bowls of steamed rice and assorted vegetables.
I present to you… DRUM ROLL…
The legendary eight pork bellies.
(Excuse the flash from the other camera. The waitress didn’t wait and before I could snap up another shot, she had already placed two of the bellies onto the hot plate)
The back of the menu gives a description of the eight pork belly flavours as well as… THE CALORIES. Not something you want to see when it comes to pork belly. Ignorance is bliss they say…
Anyway the eight flavours of pork are as follows:
Red Pepper Paste (Hot)
There were subtle differences between the pork flavours that could only be detected when eaten one after another. The sesame oil sauce, a must for the pork, unfortunately also rendered the flavours less distinguishable from one another. The more notable flavours that stood out from a meaty blur were the herbed and garlic flavoured bellies. I also recall that the ‘hot’ wasn’t very spicy.
The above shots demonstrate the strategies used for making the pork belly less fatty.
1. The plate on which the meat is cooked is slightly slanted and allows for the effects of gravity to take place and the oil to drip down off the meat and out of our tummies.
2. The turnip on a stick can be used to speed up this oil removal process along with removing remnants of cooked meat. As chugasm said: ‘This makes pork belly good for you.’ Hmmmm, well it certainly makes it a little less unhealthy I guess.
Other dishes on the table included an assortment of pickled veggies, a large bowl of salad and sauces for the meat.
Seafood soybean paste stew (included with the palsaik set).
Judging by the bright and fiery red colour, I expected the flavour to be intense. This was indeed the case and the stew tasted like liquified kimchi with seafood items like mussel, crab leg, calamari and prawns swimming in it. While too intense on its own, it was enjoyable when eaten with rice.
Topside beef with salt and pepper.
The beef was cooked in almost no time, probably because the plate had already been warmed up from the pork. The beef was very tender and chewy but possessed quite a strong beefy smell/taste. Some chilli sauce and sesame oil fixed it up.
Kimchi seafood pancake.
Laden with seafood and cabbage, the kimchi flavour of the pancake wasn’t as potent as it ought to be. Pleasant enough, especially if you’re hungry and waiting for the meats to cook, but lacking the wow factor. The edges were especially crisp, so these pieces were the first to disappear.
The photo spells out one message quite clearly: eat fast.
Not quite in the limelight of Melbourne’s dining scene, ChangGo appears to be one quite achiever doing something right. And it’s definitely doing it well; a fact that is clearly evident when you step out of a restaurant at 8.15pm and see almost 20 Korean individuals standing around waiting for a table. The flavours were authentic and the dining experience was a tasty exploration at best and pleasant enough at worst. Oh, did I mention that they serve 8 different flavours of pork belly?
70 Little LaTrobe St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9663 1234