But there's always a silver lining. If you're in Melbourne and somehow want to satisfy your craving for Korean food, perhaps after a lengthy session of Korean dramas and variety shows, why not try out Seoul Metro?
This small little restaurant is hidden like a ninja in the shadows, and it offers quite a variety of Korean cuisine to satisfy your palate.
For one, the place is almost impossible to stumble upon, so unless you have a friend who has been there before (I was introduced and brought there by a friend), or you have read reviews about the place, you may not even realize that there is a restaurant there. Seoul Metro is located in one of the office buildings along Lonsdale Street, with nothing more than a overhead sign to attract visitors.
I walked right past the restaurant without even realizing that I missed it. Once you enter the building though, there are numerous telltale signs of something discreetly Korean up ahead, most notably the huge posters of K-pop stars plastered on the wall.
Seoul Metro is the restaurant right beside a car park, which explains why it was relatively empty at 6.30pm.
It's so hidden, ninja grottoes are jealous.
Once you enter the restaurant, you'll feel a very Korean vibe going around. It is a small restaurant, which is kinda fitting, seeing that there aren't many walk in customers.
You'll also notice the huge namesake of the restaurant, the Seoul Metro railway line map up on the wall for all to admire.
Again, the place is small and cozy, which is one of the highlights of most Korean restaurants.
We sat down and ordered 3 things off the menu, as ravenous as we were at 6.30 in the evening. The prices are pretty standard for a Korean meal in the city, ranging from AUD 10- AUD 25.
We ordered a serving of jap chae, the ever present budae jjigae and a helping of spicy pork bulgolgi.
The jap chae, or sweet potato noodles with beef slices mixed with sweet sauce and veggies, was absolutely heavenly.
I can never get over how delicious the sweet potato noodles are, and the sweet sauce with the beef gave the dish a savory-sweet taste. Because it was a sharing dish, I couldn't just grab the plate and wolf down all of it for myself. The serving portion was quite large, enough to feed 3 hungry adults.
Of course, the budae jjigae is a must try in almost every Korean restaurant.
Unlike the ones that the Buggers tried in Korea, which you can read about here, this budae jjigae has more ingredients mixed in, with a mixture of ham, sausages, veggies, tofu, kimchi, fish cake, deokbokki, cheese (?!) and pork but significantly less in terms of the portion of each ingredient. There weren't nearly enough pork slices to go around and finding a deokbokki was almost similar to striking gold. Maybe it was because we ordered a medium sized one, but I wasn't really satisfied with the portion for this budae jjigae.
Last dish we ordered was the spicy pork bulgolgi, just so the hungry adults could have a proper meat fix.
I was happily eating the deliciously and generously coated pork slices, without signs of the spiciness hitting my tastebuds. It turned out that the spicy pork bulgolgi was more sweet than spicy. For a few moments, I was so excited because I thought my tastebuds had leveled up to handle spicy foods. That still remains a dream for me.
Overall, Seoul Metro can be called a hidden gem, literally. It's well hidden despite being smack in the middle of the Melbourne CBD. It's not actually that difficult to find, but you just have to keep your eyes peeled out as you walk along Lonsdale Street. If you're ever in Melbourne and want Korean food, you should really go try this place out.
Here are some extra details about Seoul Metro: