Veer left at Lefty's, the award-winning Paddington beer hall/honkytonk, and you'll fall into the clutches of its comely new neighbour, Gingers. It's a risky prospect, particularly during happy hour from four, when the price of cocktails dips to $10. Dimly lit with a mix of vintage wallpaper, booth seating and bare brick walls, Gingers is the latest solo salvo from Lefty's co-owner Jamie Webb, a quirky take on a retro Korean diner/bar that's as noisy as a fleet of incoming choppers.
The pocket-sized digs crams in a barrage of MASH* references - yes, that's the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital emblem on the brick wall and bomber-nose pinup art on the distressed concrete floor. And the red-light alley out back? Just a holding pen for hungry customers.
On Nick Stapleton's Korean street food menu, mushroom bibimbap is a feature, as is bo ssäm, a tasty DIY wrap of iceberg lettuce cups, shreds of savoury braised pork, kimchi, bean sprouts, hot sauce and herbs delivered in a three-tiered tiffin box. Clams in a mildly spicy passata are teamed with glass noodles and strips of fried nori, while sweet potato chips arrive with a not-very-chilli kimchi mayo. Little pickled treats - baby carrots, tomatoes and more - are served in a sardine tin, and a puffy tapioca cracker is topped with cured ocean trout boosted by a spring onion-soy dipping sauce.
It's all best experienced with a drink in hand, perhaps the house chardonnay, maybe a Radar Love (plum soju, Havana Club rum, blueberry purée and syrup, and plum) or the potent Flame of Love, a fino sherry Martini dialled up with orange zest.
Gingers is not a place for Seoul-seeking, certainly, but it is a very cheery pit-stop where the working-wounded can enjoy some R&R.
Gingers, 19 Caxton St, Paddington, Qld (07) 3369 0555, gingersdiner.com.au