Last night began at Los Barbudos, the new Cuban themed bar on Smith St. The drinks are good but the promise of a permanent food truck out the back was not realised – it was missing in action – so after a drink my friend and I headed north for the other place we were keen to try – the new Korean restaurant Bistro K. In the preceding days I had read a conversation on Twitter amongst some food bloggers about the shortcomings they experienced during their visit there, but it had not dissuaded us.
We avoided the histrionically awful wine list, which looks like it was compiled by the work experience kid from your nearest late night convenience store bottle shop and contains only the most banal mainstream Australian wine labels. Instead I had Korean plum wine and my friend had tea. They’d be better off only offering the Korean drinks. My plum wine was similar to the Japanese style plum wine but was less syrupy and had more of a bitter undertaste, which I liked.
We ordered fish balls and mung bean pancakes with pork from the ‘small’ section of the menu for entrees. My friend’s fish balls arrived first and she had almost finished them by the time my pancakes arrived. Soon after our mains arrived along with an extra complimentary small dish – the prawns and scallops with black sesame tofu mousse – as an offering of apology for the mistimed dishes.
From the ‘large’ section of the menu my friend had bulgogi bibimbap, which came with a generous serve of pickled vegetables, and I had a spicy chicken and vegetable stew. Both came with soup and dishes without rice, like mine, also come with a side serve of rice. My friend was satisfied with her bibimbap and my stew was delicious – it had sufficient chili to be warming but not so much as to alarm more delicate palates – and also contained carrots and potatoes. It had a tartness to it that was well matched by the plum wine.
The front dining room and bar was almost full when we arrived, without a booking, so we were offered a table in the smaller back room, which is up a few stairs. The toilets are out the back in the courtyard from the back room, meaning accessibility is an issue.
We found the service to be attentive and helpful in explaining the menu and the drinks. The timing of the arrival of the dishes was a minor inconvenience as the entrees were not together and the mains arrived too soon before we had finished the entrees. Despite this, our experience was obviously more positive than that experienced by some of my friends last week.
With a little more time to improve coordination from the kitchen and some professional guidance on the wine list, Bistro K would be able to deliver an impressive and satisfying dining experience. The food itself is already enjoyable and I have no criticisms to make of it. Our meal came to $85, which represents good value.