19 May Bistro K, Collingwood
Due to mum being overseas during the actual weekend, a somewhat belated Mothers’ Day celebration saw us at Bistro K. Down the outlet factory end of Smith St, Bistro K describes itself as a modern Korean restaurant, combining Korean flavours with Western cooking methods. Heading the kitchen is Jae Park, formerly of Nobu. Park has some impressive kitchen experience under his belt, previously working at a French restaurant in the five star Hotel Shilla in Korea, as well as acting as head chef at a restaurant in the USA.
Exposed brick, wooden floorboards, simple wooden furniture and pendant lights give the space a neat, clean and inviting vibe, whilst the pendant lights by the window in the shapes of beakers, and conical and round-bottomed flasks inject a hint of quirkiness. Apart from the main dining area, there’s also a more private dining room and an outdoors area at the back.
We began with three entrees. First the tender, grilled lamb ribs with an Asian apple mint salad ($18), then fresh and spicy octopus with buckwheat noodle and chilli vinaigrette ($18).
A2 and I had the same mind and went straight for the scallop and prawn ravioli with soybean paste clam sauce ($18), which was the best entree for today. Two large ravioli with clams and semi-dried tomato were sitting in a most wonderful, rich sauce. The subtle seafood flavour in the sauce went beautifully with the light and fresh scallop and prawn filling.
We then moved on to four different mains. A2’s slow-cooked chicken was easily the most attractive of the bunch, but it wasn’t all style without substance. The chicken was well cooked, not dry, and the chilli and soy sauce gave an interesting and spicy kick to this versatile meat.
A little predictable with his choice of the beef, dad’s Angus scotch fillet ($29) arrived sizzling on the pan. Though on first appearance it didn’t seem that interesting, the sauce managed to hold its own.
Mum stole my first choice, but being Mothers’ day (and also simply being mum), I let her have it and I went with my second pick. Always a salmon lover, I chose the sous vide salmon fillet with sautéed kimchi instead ($28). Boasting amazingly crispy skin, perfectly cooked flesh and accompanied by dollops of a spicy, and savoury yet rather refreshing sauce meant I wasn’t completely losing out.
We ended the main course with mum’s sous vide wagyu beef cheek with port wine soy sauce ($24). Oh my. This was incredibly delicious. Though it seemed more Western than Korean it hardly mattered. The beef cheek broke apart upon gentle stroking with the fork, and the port wine and soy based sauce was simply amazing. To top it all off, the bed of creamy mash soaked up all those beautiful flavours. Delicious. Maybe mum did win a little bit. Or a lot. This was most definitely the star of the mains. Given the entrees were a little larger than expected, we were already full, but the sweet course was yet to come.
A2’s makgeoli creme brulee ($10) was first to arrive. From the description I expected the makgeoli (Korean rice beer) to be incorporated into the creme brulee, but instead it was a creme brulee with a makgeoli foam and diced apples on the side. A2 tested the caramelisation of the sugar topping and there was a joyfully audible crack, which mum sadly missed because she was too engrossed in conversation with dad, despite us announcing we were about to commence.
The creme brulee itself was OK. The makgeoli foam had a slightly bitter flavour, which was unsurprising given it’s an alcoholic drink. We weren’t quite sure how to eat it though so we just had it with the apple.
Both dad and I picked the hotteok – Korean sweet pancakes ($12). The crispy and slightly dense pancake dough contained a layer of peanut honey syrup and sugar. The ginger ice cream was rather good too. Peanuts and sunflower seeds sprinkled over the top provided a lovely contrast of textures, and a nuttiness that complimented and mellowed the sweetness of the other components.
Last, but not least, was mum’s chocolate fondant ($12). This one also came with more of that yummy ginger ice cream, as well as sticky sesame and sunflower seed shards and diced apple.
Just like a good fondant should, its centre was oozing with a rich and dark chocolately molten mass. It was scrumptious. I personally still preferred the hotteok, but mum was rapt. I had picked the restaurant for this occasion, so it was a massive relief to find that the meal did not disappoint. Bistro K is a keeper.
366 Smith St
Collingwood, VIC, 3066
(03) 9973 6055