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A Korean pop-up at Bar Clarine

Peter Jo

Peter Jo

You can only go around calling yourself Kimchi Pete for so long before you have to open a Korean restaurant of your own. Sommelier Peter Jo is about to deliver on his nickname, opening a six-week pop-up at the space previously occupied by Bar Clarine called #DinnerByKimchi, where he'll serve dinner on Thursdays and Fridays, as well as bowls of noodles and kimchi for lunch on Saturdays.

Jo's childhood was steeped in Korean cuisine and restaurants - his parents run one of Sydney's best-known Korean restaurants, Madang. Jo worked front-of-house at 121BC and Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney before moving to Melbourne where he spearheaded the wine program at Belle's Hot Chicken and its now departed sister, Bar Clarine.

Each week the menu will highlight a specific technique used in Korean cooking. First up is bo ssäm. "It's pork belly boiled in stock, chopped up and served with an array of kimchi," explains Jo. "You make a Korean lettuce taco filled with the pork belly, fermented soybean paste and kimchi."

Dinner is served with several banchan, the side dishes that typically populate a Korean dining table. Jo says banchan are often a mere gesture in Australian Korean restaurants, but his will be different. "People serve mashed potato as a banchan, which isn't even Korean! Mine will demonstrate different Korean flavours and techniques."

Saturday lunch will feature noodles. Pork and kimchi ramen is the first cab off the rank, with the promise of a soy-milk noodle soup and jjajangmyun - Chinese black-bean noodles done Korean-style - coming up.

Lunch, in limited quantities, will be on a walk-in basis, while dinner requires a reservation. Bookings will open a week ahead when Jo posts his menu on Instagram.

Better still, Jo is on the hunt for a permanent space to open a restaurant serving traditional Korean barbecue. "Everyone knows Korean barbecue, but it hasn't been done as well as it could be."

#DinnerByKimchi, dinner Thu-Fri, lunch Sat, 28 April to 4 June, 150 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Vic; to book, email peter.h.jo@gmail.com

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