Located conveniently on Swanston Street, between Melbourne University and RMIT, Big Mama is a small Korean/Japanese restaurant that is popular with Asian University students. This venue is bustling daily, and often with a wait time of an hour, so go early to secure a table.
Go with patience as there are few staff, so the wait for service can be long. The menu comprises appetisers to share, ranging from sweet potato noodles with vegetables to a variety of salads, and deep fried street snack favourites. Lunch specials include Bento boxes and rice and noodle bowls, priced between $10.5-$15, and available until 4pm to takeaway; great value for lunch. Mains include Japanese and Korean cuisine including Teriyaki salmon, BiBimBab, soups, soba salads, and more.
We shared the Takoyaki (deep fried octopus balls) - light and fluffy with diced octopus filling, and topped with mayo and Katsuobushi - a good appetiser to share. My Soon Doo Boo was disappointing – soft tofu melted into a soup, with no vegetables or seafood to be seen. The accompaniments, usually generous and unlimited at other Korean restaurants, were sparse and only a single-serve to share between three of us. Be warned, if you request refills, you will be charged.
With over 60 items on the menu, there is something to suit every taste. Vegetarian and gluten-free options available.
Do you have a favourite dish at Big Mama? Please share your recommendation in the comments below.