Saturday, October 9, 2010
Dinner with Danger Will Robinson!
This is a little embarrassing and I don't always admit this in public, but I am a huge Nerdy McNerd fan of science fiction. I have been known to hibernate on a weekend with my husband watching season whatever of Battlestar Galactica, Stargate (all of its incarnations) and yes, even Star Trek.
Maybe this is why I was intrigued by Obaltan (right outside Elizabeth Street Arcade in the City http://www.obaltan.com.au/) with its retractable silver space age extractor fans hanging down from the ceiling above each table, ready to suck up the charcoal smoke from the grills. They reminded me of the arms of the Robot from Lost In Space (you know when he waved them around klaxoning "Danger Will Robinson").
Obaltan has a pretty extensive menu filled with all those strange and wonderful Korean food names in short gutteral bursts like "Bibimbup" and "Yuk Gae Jang". We knew that we had to order some BBQ though, so we went with the Combination A ($65) which featured cha dol, beef skirt, beef ribs and pork belly and steered clear of the other choice which had too much animal intestine to really tickle my fancy.
While I do enjoy the theatre and fun of grilling all the meats on the smoky charcoal grill, I must say it does get a little stressful. Making sure everyone gets some of the deliciously charred meat, that it's all dished out evenly, that you don't cook too long, that you don't cook too short and give everyone food poisoning... ughh!!
For some variety (and vegetable content) we went with the Dolsot Bibimbap which came out sizzling and spitting in its red hot stone pot (dolsot).
I love the way the rice at the bottom of the dolsot gets all crunchy and infused with the sesame oil at the bottom in this dish. I also love the way it comes out with a raw egg cracked in the middle that you mix up with your chopstick and cook against the sides of the dolsot. In my opinion, adding an egg to pretty much anything cranks up the awesome, which is another reason why I love Korean fare.
The obligatory condiments were pretty cool here. Of course there was the ubiquitous kim chi, but an interesting one was the ball of sweet potato mash with nuts.
Obaltan had pretty good service, and had those awesome service buttons on each table that Koreans seem to love so much. The thing that really sold it for me though, was the fact that this was the serving size of the house wine: