Monday, June 16, 2014


 photo kong-6121_zpse589a8c1.jpg

Hype can be a pretty dangerous thing. Inflating expectations only to be sorely disappointed, or feel satiated, but feel like the wallet's been ripped into a bit more than expected. It's hard not to fall into it though, especially in Melbourne where we seem to have a heightened awareness of what's new and coming, case in point, Broadsheet reporting on a Chris Lucas's new spot opening…in a year…?!

 photo kong-6146_zps48b9d7d9.jpg

But coming back into the now, unless you've been completely living underneath a rock, you'll know that Chris Lucas's third spot Kong has opened, with Benjamin Cooper at the helm as executive chef, turning out a modern interpretation of Korean BBQ with cutesy panda's abound (even on the kitchen clocks!)

I tend to try not to jump onto new spots too crazily, unless I've heard good reports through the grapevine, and for a place like Kong…you know the wait's going to be there. However, when my girl Em asked me to go with her, there was no way I was going to say no!

 photo kong-6126_zpsaf7dde03.jpg

 photo kong-6123_zpsda72518e.jpg

Kong, located in Richmond, keeps the interior minimal and simple, it's a touch sterile with minimal decoration, compared to the bustling character that Chin Chin seems to have with it's propaganda style posters. Tables are squeezed in every nook and cranny, and despite a large number of seats in such a small space, every one is taken, and turnover is crazy, the two spots next to us were turned over three times during the duration of our meal (maybe Em and I eat really slow...?)

 photo kong-6131_zpsd67c799a.jpg

Em and I find ourselves at the bar, where the heavily staffed kitchen runs like clockwork, with the odd fire flare and constantly amazing smells wafting over. 

 photo kong-6132_zpsaa7be2aa.jpg

We quickly get stuck into the cocktails, which I've forgotten to grab names of, but absolutely everything we had was amazing and generally made with some Asian alcohol (sake, sochu etc.). Em coos over the drink in the martini glass, gasping that it tastes and feels like flower petals, smooth and delicate, lightly dancing across the tongue with a soft and feminine aroma. A lemongrass concoction is a refreshing contrast, bright and lively, a perfect palate cleanser. I'm amazed at the prices of the cocktails, which are very reasonable given Melbourne's general prices. 

 photo kong-6151_zps9e6b864b.jpg

The bartender encourages us to get on to the wood grilled edamame, with chilli and sea salt. Without question, some of the best edamame I've had, the wood grill char giving it a nice richness, and honestly, I'm surprised how hot these arrive at our table, since I find that generally edamame seems to get served warm. A generous serve, and easy way to start the meal. 

 photo kong-6155_zpsd243c690.jpg

The wagyu beef and kimchi dumplings with soy vinegar, are a touch tart initially, since they're swimming in the soy vinegar, but absolutely bursting with flavour once you bite in and get to the filling. Amazingly well balanced, the richness of the wagyu is not outdone by the bright and zesty kimchi, blending together to pack a wallop of flavour. Woah. Awesome.

 photo kong-6163_zpsa4d2ca94.jpg

The teriyaki roast ora king salmon with wok fried broccoli and tomato ssam roti-roll is another stunner entree. The roti is tender, the salmon with a melt in your moth texture. One of the least Korean dishes in my opinion, but definitely welcome!

 photo kong-6173_zps2d9eca0e.jpg

These blended drinks are going to be an absolute winner in summer…especially when spiked with rum or vodka. 

 photo kong-6179_zps97f08f9f.jpg

 photo kong-6176_zps4311452d.jpg

Instead of choosing one main to go with…we opt to go for 4…on the Kong Bossam BBQ tray that is! My photos absolutely do no justice to this, as Em and I were both amazed with how big it was and how amazing it smelt! The pulled chicken is scrumptious, the pulled pork a tiny bit dry, pork belly was partnered with crackling making it pure heaven and the beef brisket just falling off the bone. I was absolutely in love with the glaze on that brisket, amazing!

But honestly, one of my favourite things on the plate, were the condiments on the side, a fresh head of lettuce, pickles, kimchi, baby sweet corn and walnut ssamjang. Woah. That ssamjang, totally blew my mind. I could not get enough of it on everything. Definitely need to go back to get a jar for home!

The BBQ tray is such a great way to get a sample of what Kong can turn out, and if you're not too hungry, would make a suitable dinner (with maybe one or two extra sides) for two (which is exactly what one couple did next to us). At $28, it's a steal.

 photo kong-6183_zps0d827be1.jpg

 photo kong-6185_zps5d26fd7c.jpg

Next up we got the 'Buns', a soft shell crab one with salted duck egg relish and coriander and a peanut butter salt and pepper tofu with burnt chilli mayo. Although beautifully presented, I couldn't help thinking how little they were! Hardly the size of my fist, I couldn't help feel they were a touch on the expensive side at $6 a pop. 

However, they still tasted amazing. Surprisingly, I was a bigger fan of the tofu bun, the sweetness of the bao complementing the savoury salty flavour of the tofu beautifully.

 photo kong-6189_zpscf75b4e4.jpg

 photo kong-6194_zps626568e6.jpg

A glass of yuzu umeshu (so good that I had two glasses), and onto mountain of BBQ peanut butter wings with gochujang and pickles. Almost at bursting, Em and I continued to soldier on through! In contrast to the crunchy Korean fried chicken that's popular at the moment, these wings were sticky and wet, getting all over your fingers, in the most delicious way possible. May have caught Ben Cooper laughing at the two of us being most unladylike as we licked our fingers clean. 

 photo kong-6199_zpse765daa0.jpg

Fortunately Kong's prepared for this, with a bowl of wet wipes 'served' with the chicken wings at the same time. 

I'm always amazed at how much food Em and I get through, and because it's Kong, we had to squeeze in at least two desserts. Duh.

 photo kong-6203_zpsa6437725.jpg

The apple and walnut tart with miso butterscotch and japanese whisky ice-cream is sheer delight. A short pastry, with soft and tender apples, the combination is comforting and so moreish. The ice-cream is not as strong as I expected to it (Syracuse's was much, much stronger in flavour), but works well in the overall balance. 

 photo kong-6206_zps37de7e47.jpg

Finally, the coconut sago with passionfruit and pineapple trifle is like eating a cloud, so light and so refreshing, you can hardly feel it on your tongue as it's so soft and smooth. If you're feeling totally stuffed but still craving to satiate the sweet tooth, this is your dessert, 110%!

All in all, despite the hype, I believe that Kong is delivering the goods. Although for some reason I had initially thought Kong would be a little bit more of the traditional barbecue experience, with exhausts hanging down off the ceiling for each table (I think I saw a picture of Chris Lucas with them in the background…), I'm quite happy that it really is a new twist on something relatively familiar. 

 photo kong-6137_zpsf2533787.jpg

The thing at Kong is that all the dishes are bursting with flavour, with each of the dishes we tried with it's own distinct flavour, quite a feat for the size of the menu Kong is sporting! 

I'm definitely looking forward to coming back and trying more, as we left, I realised we hadn't tried any of the cold entrees, and got some mild food envy as I saw another table with the kingfish sashimi. 

So believe the hype, Kong's here and it's good, and remember to have your kimchi with friends (you can try more on the menu that way!)

599 Church Street
Richmond 3121

Kong BBQ on Urbanspoon

View I'm So Hungree in a larger map


  1. Yeeks! I must be living under a rock then, cos I'd only noticed Kong on my Instagram feed last night & until your post, had no clue who Chris Lucas is. Seeing that I liked double Chin from ages past, I'm now keen on this place too, but to be honest I was sold after seeing the cute Japanese writing... hah! :p

    1. Haha, it is cute isn't it? Will admit that sucked me in too! Food is great though, so definitely worth checking out, my friend also loved Chin Chin and was very happy with Kong!

  2. That apple and walnut tart looks luscious :)

  3. Mmm that looks absolutely amazing, i'm salivating just thinking of the wood-grilled edamame! I have to say that even though I would miss the DIY portion of K-BBQ, it would be nice not to smell like a grill after dinner ;)

  4. Yuzu umeshu! My FAVOURITE drink probably of all time lol. This is the one I always order:

    sooooooo good. I've tried yuzu liqueur on it's own and it just isn't the same. Even tried mixing yuzu liqueur with umeshu in a DIY attempt, but again, nowhere near as delicious as the proper pre-mixed yuzu umeshu I linked. mmm