Friday, 31 August 2012

Review - Thai Viet Bibigo

Thu, 16th August 2012
and other visits in August, September   

Thai Viet Bibigo
Shop 4, Capitol Arcade
Swanston st

Cuisine: Korean, Japanese

 Taste Rating: 7.5/10   Value Rating: 8/10

Thai Viet Bibigo on Urbanspoon

I was walking pass the Alannah Hill store at Capitol Arcade when I saw these people eating out of huge steel bowls, sitting at little tables in the arcade. Intrigued, I stopped to see where they had ordered their food from. It was a little hole in the wall shop, doing great business with the lunch time crowd. Inaccurately named Thai Viet Bibigo, this place serves mainly Korean and Japanese food.

I couldn't resist ordering something too. The menu is really simple - a menu high on the back wall and a little specials menu above the cash register. There are quite a number of  staff members for this tiny but very busy place. They efficiently served at the counter or cooked in the small crowded kitchen. The service is really fast - orders are taken quickly and the food comes out of the kitchen pretty quickly as well. 

I ordered the Crispy Chicken on rice, from the specials menu above the cash register. A large kara-age style chicken on rice appeared in a huge steel bowl shortly after. Amazing! I liked the crumbed chicken which is not the most healthy meal, but tasty. I'm not a big fan of mayonaise so would ask for 'no mayo' next time - this was drizzled in a zig zag pattern over the chicken. To make you feel more healthy, this dish came with a serve of leafy salad. And a bowl of warm miso is included - this is a nicer miso soup than some places I have tried. All these for the small price of $6.50! Bibigo is truly one of Melbourne's lunch time gems. Maybe I should keep this place secret!

 Menu high on the back wall

 Menu high on the back wall

Specials Menu
Crispy Chicken on rice,
with leafy greens and Miso soup

Crispy Chicken on rice, with leafy greens

 Nice food in the bain marie 
Salmon Kochi (Skewers), Agedashi Tofu
and Pork Mandu (Korean Dumplings).

Sushi Rolls

Sitting is limited. I could see only 4 tables for Bibigo in the arcade, plus a counter against the inside wall. You sit on these retro looking three legged stools. Many people bought takeaways and seemed to be regulars.

Retro looking 3 legged stools

I have been back to Bibigo twice since. The second time, we ordered Beef Bibimbap and Salmon Bibimbap. These are basically the same dish except that one comes with beef, the other with raw salmon. Each large steel bowl was vibrant in colour with an arrangement of yellow omelette strips, shredded carrots, cucumber slices, cooked green leafy vegetables and fresh leafy salad. The finely sliced beef was lean, tender and tasty. This dish was drizzled with a red sauce called Gochujang, which is made of spicy red peppers, but the Gochujang here is not terribly spicy so if you are not into spicy food, you might still be OK with it. The salmon was cut into large chunks and tasted fresh.  It came with a bowl of what tasted liked soya sauce. Miso soup is included with all the main meals. These generous meals cost us $8.50 for the Beef Bibimbap and $9.50 for the Salmon Bibimbap.

You can have an interesting walk to Bibigo by going through the heritage Royal Arcade, down Howey Lane with its constrast of laneway and designer shops, and then into the 1920s era Capitol Arcade. On the reverse journey, walk down the graffiti-covered Union Lane which has become a  CBD tourist attraction.

On the way to Bibigo. Short cut through Royal Arcade

... walk through Howey Place ...

... turn into Capitol Arcade,
one of Melbourne's oldest arcades from the 1920s

Beef Bibimbap with Gochujang
(red sauce made from spicy red peppers) 

Beef Bibimbap

Raw Salmon Bibimbap, with Miso Soup and Sauce

Raw Salmon Bibimbap

Shortcut through Union Lane.
Council designated graffiti lane
which has become a tourist attraction.

Union Lane

I went back to Bibigo again when I was in a hurry to grab a late lunch. Good opportunity to try the Japanese Curry Chicken on rice for $6.00. The large steel bowl appeared with tender chicken, chunky carrot pieces and rice. Even though I prefer the stronger Asian curries, I am quite happy with this savoury curry gravy, which is not as bland as other Japanese curries I have tried elsewhere. It can give the Wagamama curry a run for its money.


Tables at Bibigo, Capitol Arcade,
Near Alannah Hill designer shop.

Japanese Curry Chicken

Overall, I am glad I stumbled into this forgotten part of Melbourne. Good food, huge quantity, amazing prices and fast, friendly service. A 'no fuss' place for a great lunch.

Updated 7th Sep 2012
Went with a couple of friends for a quick meal. I had eaten a huge banquet lunch the day before at Red Spice Road. So I wanted to be good today and have a smaller meal.  Good opportunity to try two entree-sized bain-marie items which I had been eyeing previously. One was the Salmon Kochi. This shewer had generous chunky pieces of salmon, in a sweet teriyaki sauce. Nice. Would have prefered this warmer though. 

The second item was the Agedashi Tofu. The tofu was nicely fried, not too oily. A light sweet sauce is drizzled over the tofu when you order it. Not bad. Again, this would have tasted so much better if it was warmer. I normally take several photos of each dish JIC the photos don't turn out well. But I was so busy chatting that I seem to have only one slightly blurry photo of the tofu! 

One friend ordered the Spicy Pork Bibimbap. I tried a piece of this spicy pork. It was nice but surprisingly very chilli hot, even with my mid-level tolernance for spicy Asian dishes! I would have struggled to eat a huge bowl of this due to the spiciness. The person who ordered this was very happy with the taste and generous size of this dish, and amazingly, was able to finish most of this large serve, despite being from a non-spicy food culture. Go figure!

Salmon Kochi

Salmon Kochi, Agadeshi Tofu

Spicy Pork Bibimbap

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