While (most likely) you won’t find Naomi Watts or Jack Black at Richmond’s Kong BBQ, you will find exactly what you’d expect from a sibling in the Chin Chin family – a reliable dining destination that is strong in flavour and strong in personality.
Under the guise of a girlie catch up, I finally hauled myself off Chapel Street and over the bridge to this Church Street restaurant that’s been serving up Korean fusion for just a tad over two years now.
Kong BBQ is bold, confident and Bachelor-style smooth
Watch out Richie, this Korean BBQ house could steal your spot as The Bachelor. Despite being petite in size, Kong BBQ is oozing with personality, and is very much from the same fine specimen gene pool as The Lucas Group’s Chin Chin, Baby and Hawker Hall.
Residing in an ex-warehouse, Kong BBQ has put its Asian industrial stamp on the space, with panda pop art; canteen-style, bare, blonde wood tables; and green fluoro lights that remind me of my Year 10 science lab.
The intimate space is filled with long communal tables, bar seating and a dozen couples’ tables. While the walk-in policy that’s a Chris Lucas signature rears it’s ugly ape-like head again here, as it was Sunday night, at the very premature time of 5:30pm, my friend Ana-Mari and I had our pick of the uniformed chairs. We decided to plonk ourselves at the bar, in front of the open kitchen, so that we could watch the baseball-capped chefs going all pyro.
If you do come face-to-face with a full house coupled with a line, worst comes to worst, The Prince Alfred Hotel is a few doors down. You can have a drink here in the boy-breeding beer garden.
Alas no boy fishing for us, it was straight into the pork buns.
Buns, wings and ribs
The Kong menu is a modern twirl on Korean, with a light pirouette of Japanese. You’ll find lots of buns, wings and ribs that are designed to share, and plenty of chargrilled goodness courtesy of the kitchen’s BBQ pits, open flame grill and smoke oven.
We settled on the steamed wagyu beef and kimchi dumplings; chicken meatballs in a sticky, sumptuous teriyaki sauce; two buns: one with soft shell crab topped with salted duck egg relish and coriander, and the other with pork belly, pickled cucumber and crazy horse chilli; the spicy salmon tartare; and a side of wood roasted brocollini, all of which arrived in front of us faster than a lap of the Nürburgring. Our Korean BBQ feast was then full stopped with an almond and walnut tart, topped with miso butterscotch and Japanese whiskey ice cream.
Everything was absolutely faultless but the soft pillowey buns were worthy of a hand-clapping, standing ovation. If you’re allergic to crab or pork, the peanut butter salt and pepper tofu bun sounds adventurous.
If you’re allergic to Richmond, there’s a take-away option, with delivery available if you live within 2.5 kilometres. If you live 2.6+ kilometres away, it looks like you’re getting in your car for a pick-up run.
There’s also a $66pp feed me menu.
Kong BBQ is…
If you’re after a smokin’ hot, reliable Melbourne experience, you can’t go past any of The Lucas Group’s restaurants. Kong BBQ is no exception. Its caffeinated energy, smooth waiters (that could also give Bachelor Richie a run for his money) and flavour-smacking menu continues to prop up Kong BBQ’s undeniable popularity.
Kong BBQ | 599 Church Street, Richmond, Victoria
Phone: (03) 9427 1307