Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Victoria Street Recommendations: Arisoo (Korean) and Jinda (Thai)

I live a block from Victoria Street (and have done for fifteen years); Richmond’s famed strip of Asian restaurants.

And when I say “strip of Asian restaurants”, I mean a long line of shops; easily confused with “strip-off Asian restaurants” where you might see racy-strip shows while you eat (Yuck! Can you imagine the food safety and hygiene implications??? It doesn't bear thinking about).

Just making sure you got that.  I know you and your dirty mind.

I admit we don’t dine on Victoria St as often as we should.  When we first moved to Abbotsford, we’d eat out there three to five times a week; but after six months, the smell of peanut oil – and the idea of ever eating deep fried spring rolls again – would turn my stomach.

Occasionally, however, we’ll have a visitor who is keen to pop down for a visit, and I’ve discovered recently that there’s more to Victoria Street than your traditional pho (soup) restaurants, or the rice paper rolls, Mongolian beef and lemon chicken many restaurants have included on their menus in an attempt to be a “me too” experience for the unwitting.

Some are lifting their game, becoming more genre specific and getting trendier interior fit-outs. After the last couple of weeks trawling the strip (with Jane’s cousin Matt-o-san) we found two very good options which I can recommend you try... the next time you find yourself on Victoria St wondering where to go.


‘True Taste of Korea’
285A Victoria Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067

Arisoo has been open for about a year and a half, and celebrates itself as offering “authentic” Korean food. It offers a slightly higher-end feel than many of the surrounding restaurants, using the “traditional” stainless steel chop sticks of Korea.

The meal we had, as guided by Matt-o-san who’d spent his thirtieth birthday in Korea, was sublime.
Not everything looked the goods on the menu though.  One meal was called “Camp stew” and incorporated what looked like tinned hot dogs served with other tinned produce one might find readily available while fighting in the jungles*.

Anyway, if you’re unsure of what to order, Arisoo offers the menu as a photo book, so you can go through that and get a very good idea of what you’ll be eating before ordering.

The staff were also very friendly, explaining all of the dishes available, and when one dish came out, we asked them to “make it for us” (you had to break up an egg and stir it into this dish).  Arisoo took great pride in their excellent house-made kimchi, with fresh rather than pickled cabbage; and they had good reason to be proud of it.  I rate it six tentacles out of eight.

“Jinda” Thai Restaurant

1-7 Ferguson St
Abbotsford VIC 3067

Telling a pal about this place, yesterday, he said:
‘Jinda?  It sounds like Tinder for red heads…’
‘... or a hook up site for alcoholics,’ I rejoined.

You’ll find this restaurant by wandering down to the “Thai section” of Victoria St (the last block before Hoddle St).  Jinda has opened in a former fashion-outlet warehouse located in a side street.

They’ve built a kitchen in one corner, and it has a very nice if industrial fit-out, with exposed brick walls, timber, a Thai lamp installation, a picture of the King and Queen (Thai), and a big portrait of the owner’s mother “Jinda” on one wall.

I know that Thai food is “so 2003”, but this is worth a look.  The place was pumping with happy patrons and the food was fantastic; i.e. not too hot/spicy, with just the right balance of ingredients (coconut, chilli, lime, palm sugar, curry pastes, etc.).

In spite of how busy it was, the staff quickly got us a table, and we enjoyed an excellent Tom Kha, a whole tamarind fish, red duck curry, roti bread, all the staples really, and all very well done. Six and a half tentacles out of eight.

So there you have it; brief but quality tips from a local who lives around the corner.  Try them out!  You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Bon appétit!

Or as they say in Korea:

And Thailand:

* Do they have Jungles in Korea?  I haven’t been there, but if M*A*S*H is anything to go by, probably not. Incidentally, trivia buffs, did you know that the film time of the TV show M*A*S*H went for longer than the actual Korean war? It’s true!  Now if only they'd stop the re-runs...