Now that I've developed a full-fledged Korean food addiction, I couldn't last a whole weekend without the stuff while I was in Melbourne. Marc's friend organised a group dinner for us and some other friends at Guhng for Saturday night.
Our table was for 8pm at night, which is a late dinner for me so even though I had been literally eating all day (here and here), I was ready for lots of meat by dinnertime. One of my best mates Howl met up with us beforehand and we had a couple of sneaky glasses of red before braving the Melbourne cold and walking to the restaurant.
I navigate much better with drinks in my belly than without and we found the restaurant without incident. Coincidentally, Marc's friends got there at the same time. There was minor confusion with our booking but we managed to get a table for 8.
Guhng restaurant is huge. It's spread out across 3-4 split levels and we were seated along one of the middle ones (I say that because I know there were stairs going up and down from our level) next to the bar.
Beer and soju
We ordered drinks to get the party going. A number of the girls went for cocktails but Howl convinced me and Marc to get 'somaek' with him. For the uninitiated, this is basically a mix of beer and soju. As for ratio? Well let's just say that we started at a mild concentration but with Howl cheekily topping up our soju every time we had a sip, I got very 'happy' by the end of this meal.
Ordering food in a big group always gets confusing. A couple of the girls chose a la carte dishes and enjoyed those on their own. The rest of us went for the 'meat party' banquet option. This is charged per person and comes with enough meat for all, plus some starters. There is the choice of basic meat party or premium and we went for the later, which simply has some better cuts.
Marc and I order seafood pancake at every Korean restaurant we go to so we chose a large one here for everyone to share. It wasn't as crispy as my favourite one from Hong Depot in Brisbane but the flavour was nice and there was quite a bit of seafood inside.
The starters that came with our meat party included some pan-fried dumplings and a salad. I normally love getting salads at Asian restaurants because I think the dressings are tasty; it was indeed tasty but I'm paranoid about eating green things at group outings (it's a braces thing). If it's just Marc, I don't give a rat's bum what's stuck in my teeth but with other friends, I try to avoid colourful items. Marc really liked this salad, which is notable for a boy.
The pan-fried dumplings had a savoury veggie filling. They were everything they needed to be: juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside and there was a nice dipping sauce that went with them. I liked that they were perfectly bite-sized.
I didn't photograph every meat that was brought out but I can make some general comments. I don't know if Guhng does this for everyone or if the waitstaff took one look at Marc (who was closest to the hotplate) and decided he wouldn't be any good at cooking but someone was there to cook each course of meat for us. We weren't complaining at all because it allowed us to focus on eating and catching up.
The hotplate was a bit far for our guys at the other end of the table to reach so there was a bit of food passing. Aside from that minor inconvenience, everything was great. My favourite had to be the wagyu. I thought that made the premium meat party worth it because the meat was so tasty. The bulgogi had a nice flavour too but the ox tongue had a few of our friends raising eyebrows.
Sides for the barbecue
We had a fun time in Guhng eating a variety of Korean treats. I loved that we got all the benefits of barbecue, that is nice charred flavours and freshly cooked meat, without actually having to cook the meat ourselves. The drinks were a bit pricier that we would have liked so we quickly moved on to a pub afterwards but if you don't drink as much as we do in one sitting, it wouldn't be that much of an issue.