While some people crave chocolate, my cravings tend to be for savoury items like hot, fat chips or alternatively for spicy food. Food Safari the other night claimed that spicy food is perfect for hot, humid countries, as all the spices help stimulate the appetite. I don't know if that's true, but last Friday it was unseasonably wet and humid and all I wanted the entire day was spicy food. Lunch was with colleagues at a Korean restaurant, which kept me happy for a couple of hours. After work though, a few drinks with my Bro, Alastair and a couple of his colleagues started up my craving again. I had read Mellie's review of Oriental Spoon a while ago, and it had been sitting on my list of places to try for months and months. Everyone seemed happy with my suggestion for Korean food, so we braved the heavy rain and headed to Latrobe Street.
Once there, everyone glanced at the menu, but they were happy to let me pick the food. I love doing the ordering, because I get to pick things that I want to try! After conferring with my Bro, we decided on three dishes to share amongst the five of us.
We didn't wait long for things to start arriving. Soon the wait staff was filling up our table with rice and banchan, and we had to shuffle things around when the mains came so we could fit everything on. The first main to come out was the Jap chae – clear potato noodles pan-fried with thin slices of marinated beef and assorted seasonal vegetables in a sesame oil sauce ($16.90). Yum, yum, yum. The noodles were light in texture and carried the flavour of the sesame oil and the slightly sweetish sauce.
Soft tofu casserole
Next was the soft tofu casserole with seafood ($35.90). This was soft tofu with mussels, pipis, prawns, squid and vegetables prepared in a spicy soup. Alongside the seafood were enoki mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, spring onions, green chilli and a good dollop of spicy red chilli paste. Also sitting grandly in the broth was a raw egg. The casserole came out on a little gas burner, which was turned up at our table to let the soup heat. We got a bit distracted by the jap chae and other items arriving on to our table, and the egg quietly disappeared, slipping into my Bro's stomach. Apparently he was doing us all a favour, as the egg had overcooked by the time he got to it.
But the star was the tofu, hidden underneath the seafood and vegetables. It was magnificent – so silky and smooth, and the kind of tofu that could even win over a tofu hater (not that I am one!). The soup was spicy and fishy and well worth the eating sweats that everyone got. Mhmm, finally my spicy cravings were sated.
Meat cooking on the stone
Last was the combination marinated set – a combination of marinated beef, pork and chicken, stone grilled ($37.00). The stone was bought out to our table on a portable gas stove along with a small basket of red coral lettuce and sauce (that tasted like a slightly spicy hoisin sauce).
The waiter turned the stove on, returning later with a plate of meat that he laid onto the stone, along with two mushrooms. The mushrooms looked sad and lonely next to all that meat!
You're supposed to smear some sauce on the meat and then wrap it in the lettuce, but the lettuce leaves were a bit small and not really suited to rolling. I preferred the meat and the tangy, salty banchan eaten with rice.
The remnants of the meat and marinade caramelised into a sweet, sticky sauce. We scraped as much off the stone as possible!
We rolled our way out of the restaurant to find that the rain had finally stopped. With my craving finally satisfied, I was a happy gal.
254 Latrobe St, Melbourne
Phone: 9654 9930