Aidan 'Taco' Jones is a comedian and writer based in Melbourne Australia, he likes most types of cheese and often throws tantrums. To read his blog and find him doing comedy hit up ajtaco.blogspot.com
Published April 8th 2014
By way of Icona Pop
The mural on the feature wall really gives the room that extra pop
I struggle to think of anything that I have encountered that more exemplifies our society's casual attitude to the colossal clash of Eastern and Western cultures that we come into contact with on a daily basis, than the feeling of walking into a Korean themed restaurant and hearing Icona Pop's 'I Love It' blaring over the speakers.
"I love it! I love it!
I DON'T CARE!"
Such is the strange mood that pervades most of the low-mid budget Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants that clutter Victoria St from Hoddle all the way down past Church.
Blink and you'll miss it, By Korea blends in with all the other shop fronts on crowded Victoria St
This is the gritty end of Northern Richmond, sitting under the shadow of the towering commission flats and stricken by poverty. Most of the restaurants (Eateries? Diners? The correct terminology escapes me) here could be fairly lumped into the same category of good-but-not-great, but By Korea definitely sits towards the top of this pack.
Check out the little tin man holding a 'TIPS' bucket. Awesome.
I wandered in around 2pm and the place was empty except for a table of locals behind me who seemed happy taking their time with a large meal sitting on the burner in the table, and I considered for a second that I might enjoy having a similar experience. The pricier end of the menu offers items up to $35 for the cashed-up diner – Korean BBQ being the main attraction here. However, my fanciful dreaming came to a halt when I felt the bulge in my back pocket and remembered that it was not a wallet, but a stack of gold coins – I had at most twenty dollars to play with.
I didn't have enough money to use this, but you can, if you believe in yourself!
So I traced the menu back, through the mid-priced soups and noodles, seeing a few things that caught my attention in the more affordable fifteen-ish price range. I finally settled though, on the soy chicken, because get this, they have a ten dollar menu as well! And when my food came out, I was in no way disappointed.
The serving was generous – my meal consisted of the aforementioned chicken with plain steamed rice on the side, a small bowl of a few onions and leeks, and finally a pile of lettuce smothered with what I can only assume was mayonnaise – are you mayonnaise? I DON'T KNOW!! And to be honest with you guys, I don't want to know. Everything was great, and I only just managed to finish the lot after coming in with what I thought was an unstoppable hunger. The aluminium chopsticks were a little tricky, slipping and evading my grasp a few times, but who doesn't like a lunch-time challenge?
After paying for the meal, which, even with a complimentary can of Coke, came to ten dollars, I walked out past the group of locals still sitting at their table enjoying what had now turned into lazy mid-afternoon grazing. Catchy pop music had turned into low, down-beat oriental-sounding background music, and I chuckled to myself at the mad juxtaposition of the songs that played me in and out of the venue. For such a good meal at a price that would be hard to beat anywhere on Richmond's cheapest stretch though, it'd be hard to kick up a fuss over that. There's always the takeaway menu anyway, but even if you don't like the music there, you shouldn't care.