I was taken to Warra Warra Korean Kitchen while on my final work trip to the wonderful city of Melbourne. Warra Warra happens to be a favourite lunchtime haunt of my Melburnian friend. We had spent the day being tourists (including going on a boat trip on the Yarra river) and dinner time was upon us. My friend told me about a little Korean restaurant that is hidden from the main streets in the CBD. Warra Warra is tucked away at the back of the Tivoli Arcade in the CBD and is under some stairs – I would not have found it if I did not know about it!
The restaurant is fairly small with both inside and outside tables. As it was a very warm day, we chose to sit outside. The tables are fairly long trestle tables that seat about ten people so on a busy day, you may find yourself sharing a table with other diners.
The menu includes Korean favourites such as kimchi, bibimbap, bulgogi, stews and (of course) DIY Korean barbeque. There was also hot pot, a typical East Asian sharing dish where a huge bowl of steaming broth is brought to the table and raw ingredients such as meat and noodles for you to cook in the broth. Vegetarians are also catered for – the concept of vegetarianism is very small in Korea, so this is good news for non meaters 🙂 There are a few decent vegetarian options such as tofu bibimbap and bulgogi and vegetarian pancakes.
We started with some Japenese dishes – agedashi tofu and prawn gyoza. Before these came out, we were brought some complimentary spiced seeds to nibble on. The tofu and gyoza were excellent. The tofu was delicate and light and perfectly seasoned. The portion size was however on the dainty side and we wolfed down the starters in a few delicious mouthfuls!
For main course, I went for the prawn bibimbap and my friend opted for the beef bulgogi. The bibimbap was served in a searingly hot stone bowl, the prawns and a large raw egg yolk on a bed of vegetables and rice. This may seem a little strange to some (like steak tartare) but it does make perfect sense. You need to mix the egg yolk in with the rest of the food – the heat of the bowl lightly scrambles the egg. The result is rather delicious!
The bulgogi featured some thin slices of beef stir fried in a sweet soy sauce and came with a portion of rice and salad. I can’t comment on what it tasted like (it is a lunchtime favourite of my friend so he must like it) but it did look rather elegant. It was presented as 3 dishes on a wooden board.
Warra Warra will have a special place in my heart as it was the final restaurant I dined at in Melbourne (it was hotel breakfasts and sandwiches after this. And a complimentary cheese board that was very kindly given to me at the hotel). The food was lovely but possibly nicer for me because of the occasion. I left feeling full enough but the portions were not huge so it was lucky that I had that cheese board to nibble on later when I returned to the hotel. However, I would definitely go to Warra Warra again should I ever return to Melbourne.
Warra Warra Korean Kitchen
Shop 19 & 20 Tivoli Arcade
235 – 251 Bourke Street
Tel: +61 3 9662 2077
Opening hours: Monday – Friday lunch 11.30 – 15.00
Monday – Friday dinner 17.30 – 23.00
Saturday 17.00 – 23.00
Typical cost per person excluding drinks: Up to $15 (lunch); Up to $30 (2 course dinner)