MELBOURNE | Korean food continues to go from strength to strength in Melbourne. From traditional late night Korean BBQ spots pocha-inspired venues, to restaurants that are putting a contemporary spin on things, there’s never been a better time to be a fan of Korean food in this city. The latest restaurant to throw its hat into the ring is Doju.
Doju takes its name from owner/head chef Mika Chae’s hometown Jeollanam-do and Meju, a fermented, Korean soybean bloc. Mika moved to Australia in 2013, working at Sezar and Attica before moving to Tasmanian to become head chef at Grain of the Silos in Launceston. Here, he deepened his knowledge of Australian produce and farming, building close relationships with Tasmanian farmers.
Working directly with farmers, and selecting the produce himself is a key part of the quality sourcing ethos at Doju. It’s a modern Australian restaurant, driven by seasonality, inspired Korean flavours and cooking techniques.
Like many Melbourne menus of late, snacks and small dishes are where the really fun stuf happens. Order everything from both sections, like I did, and you’ll be in for a treat.
Sourdough is flavoured with gochujang and served with zucchini dip, while beef tartare uses beef from retired dairy cows with, desert lime and a dill emulsion, atop bugak (fried rice flour coated seaweed cracker). Tender, subtly smoky burnt leeks with chicken skin crisp, cashew cream, and brown butter are a must try. So too is the WA marron with garlic butter, stinging nettle noodle, and ‘green sauce’.
From the larger dishes, it’s hard to go past the wonderful array of vegetables that’s the ganjang braised kohlarbi, endive escariole, and oyster mushroom. If it’s something meatier you’re after, there’s lamb rump with garlic yogurt, cimi de rapa, and herbs; and steak of the day with seasonal condiments. Both are cooked over fire on the charcoal grill. Whatever you do, be sure to order the baked potato with black garlic butter side. It’s fantastic.
For dessert, the sesame ash chocolate cigar, filled with coffee mascarpone and cherry jam, is a light way to end your meal. As for drinks, there’s a sharp wine, soju, and beer list, plus house cocktails that feature Korean flavours like Korean pear, yuju (yuzu), and gochujang.
And yes, if you’re wondering about that surname, Mika is a distant cousin of chef Jung Eun Chae, of Cockatoo restaurant Chae fame.
9/530 Little Collins Street
Mon – Sat: 5:00pm to 10:00pm