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Kim Chi Battles on Latrobe St- Oriental Spoon vs. By Korea

Submitted by on September 20, 2009 – 12:32 pm4 Comments

So my Food Battles continue. In the spirit of the Curry Laksa and the beloved Cupcake battles, this month, it’s all about Korean!

What is the big deal? And what is kim chi?

This question often comes up at family dinners. Being Filipino, I’ve come to an amusing conclusion that we are the most ‘unasain’ of all Asians, if that makes sense. I’ll explain why. My parents and many Filipino friends of mine still don’t know how to use chopsticks! It’s a crime in this sushi driven society I tell you. You know how embarrassing it is asking for a round of spoons and forks at Yum Cha, watching the waiter take away all the chopsticks except those of mine?

Actually, the most hilarious thing would be hearing your Filipino parents pronounce fork as “pork” and then seeing a dish of  blackbean pork ribs somehow arriving at the table which no one had’ intentionally’ ordered.

Oh, back to the subject. Kim Chi is a Korean picked dish variety made up of cabbage, seasonings and red chilli paste.

Why Latrobe St?

There seems to be a mecca Korean eateries building up on this side, so I thought I’d battle them out.

Oriental Spoon

Details: 254 La Trobe St Melbourne, 3000 (03) 9654 9930

Surroundings: Packed house, buzzing with chatter and the smokey smells of BBQ.


Liquids: Soo Jung Gwa– Korean Cinnamon Punch. I have a weakness for anything with cinnamon, so I predictably ordered this. It was a little too much on the sweet side, but at least I gave it a go.

Mains: Kim Chi & Condiments– the Kim Chi was good. Bright red colors, fresh, seasoned well and the chili paste had the right fire.


Grilled Pork Ribs– came on a sizzling plate. The meat was deliciously marinated with a sweet, slightly smokey and subtly spiced sauce on a bed of caramelised onions. Also minimal on the oily side unlike many other over oiled sizzling dishes which seem to leave you feeling bloated. This was the highlight and deserved all the ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaah’s it had received homeboy.


Jap Chae- clear sweet potato noodles served with chicken and vegetables. The noodles were silky smooth. A great dish to share.


Sweet Chili Chicken: generous sized pieces of sticky and crunchy wings, mini drums and juicy thighs. This is Oriental Spoon’s signature dish. I guarantee you than you’ll be devouring these babies to the bone finishing off by licking your wicked little fingers clean in delight. Don’t be ashamed.


Bring a date here? Hmmm, if you’re both up for waiting?! It is worth it.

Out with friends here? Should be cool, but Friday nights, be prepared for a long queue

Service: Quick and courteous

$$$: 45

Food Rehab Verdict: Sent me to food rehab (Wowzer) – Greenlight

Oriental Spoon on Urbanspoon

By Korea

Details: 1/222 La Trobe St, Melbourne – (03) 9662 2370

Surroundings: Cosy, casual, red themed.


Mains: Kim Chi and condiments– were ok. The Kim Chi lacked flavour and looked pale. Tasted a little watered down. The other condiments however, like the pickled apple were amazing and served as a great refreshment to the fried chicken.


Pork Dumplings were too good. Juicy with the hearty broth evident throughout.

Deep Fried Chicken By KOREA with steamed rice. When this came out- we all looked at each other like as if we had to climb the Himalayas. Served on a grill wire rack formed a towering mountain of deep fried goodness ready for the devouring. It was shame that there were no signs of any wings- only drumsticks!

“Why oh why!” I sulked. Like a kid who didn’t get his McDonalds Happy Meal toy.


Bring a date here? Sure thing.

Out with friends here? Should be cool, but Friday nights, be prepared for a long queue

Service: ok.

$$$: 40

Food Rehab Verdict: Sent me to food rehab (Wowzer) – Greenlight

Both contenders produced some stone grooves. However, my taste buds tell me that they’re still in Food Rehab due to the Grilled Pork Ribs; therefore, the crown goes to Oriental Spoon!

So my fellow foodies, what did you think?

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  • The food looks good and I love Korean food. I’ll take your word on which was better as it’s a bit hard to say without trying the food! :)

    • Adrian says:

      Hey Lorraine- oh Korean when executed well, is amazing. It’s hard to convince friends to go try it out though- they’re fixated on either Jap, Malaysian or Chinese. But don’t worry, a few are already hooked on Kim Chi.

      I think that’s the beauty of being a crazed foodie- you can back up your persuasion! LOL

  • Kate says:

    My family and I (4 adults and 1 child) did not have a good experience at Oriental spoon. Initially we chose Oriental spoon for is nicely furnished restaurant. We had booked ahead 2 days through the phone for a 6 oclock dinner. When we arrived, however, the manager told us that there was no booking under our name, and that we had to queue in line until there was a table free. When we were finally seated after a 45 min wait and had already started eating.. our daughter who is only 5 years old, had accidentally tipped her whole glass of water onto the floor. I had apologised for the incident but the manager still seemed very bad-tempered after this and snatched the glass off the table, and told the other waitresses to clean up the water. When we finally finished eating, we asked for our bill. The manager came by with the bill but he tossed it onto the table. We thought this attitude was not the way a manager should’ve behaved. Our experience of this restaurant has been tarnished by the manager’s bad-tempered attitude. Apart from that, we thought the food was quite nice.

    • Adrian says:

      Hi Kate- Sorry to hear of your experience. The place does get really packed, especially on a Fri and Sat night- but that’s no excuse for not having your reservation noted down and the attitude your family had been exposed to- accidents happen. Yes, the food is great. However, personally, when eating out, even if the food wasn’t the greatest but the service was excellent- I would still think about coming back and would also recommend the restaurant to others.

      Hopefully, this was just a ‘one off’ as the times I’ve eaten there, the service was ok. But totally understand that this incident has left you and your family tarnished. Let me know if you come across another Korean eatery that’s worth recommending.

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