We decided to check out a newcomer to the Richmond food scene – KONG BBQ. The premise at KONG is Korean-ish classics, with (I think) a Southern BBQ twist. Barbecue is where my appetite seems to settle these days (and Melbourne is really pulling through for me here. Thanks, y’all!), but even a well-seasoned barbecue buff would agree that Korean and Southern cuisine go hand in sauce-covered hand. Sweet and searing sauces, smokey meats, fried wings, and an assortment of sides that would make a many-sided polygon jealous – I could see this selection process ending in tears.
After a peptalk from our waiter, Tom (who seemed almost as excited by everything as us), we settled on a veritable feast – miso marinated, grilled eggplant; a serve of the hot chilli chicken wings; 16-hour smoked beef brisket bossam; a half rack of pork ribs with the “crazy horse” chili rub; and a side of the oshitashi-dashi spinach. Just a light lunch. With all the spice on the cards, we whetted our appetites with a cold White Rabbit white ale.
Surprisingly, one of my favourite dishes was the miso eggplant. It’s hard to describe the fresh, buttery, almost-meaty flavour that this starter brought, but it definitely got my palate excited for what was to come.
KONG’s hotwings sit in the sweet spot between sticky-sweet, fall-off-the-bone, and mouth tingling – great for a fledgling heat seeker, but perhaps a bit light for a chili fiend like me. I was expecting a bit more crunch in the skin, but KONG has shown me a delicious new path.
Quite unlike anything I’d usually order, the oshitashi-dashi was a perfect accompaniment to the heat of the meats we ordered. Lightly poached spinach mixed with miso, sesame and mirin, this dish brought a fresh, almost peanut-buttery flavour that worked so well. Thanks for the heads up, Tom!
Ribs hold a place very close to my heart (fitting, I suppose?), so I was very happy when the crazy horse ribs arrived. Again, the heat was somewhere between tingly and searing, perfectly showcasing the sweet, umami flavour of the pork. Lingering in there was (the real star of the whole show, in my opinion) the wood smoke flavour.
The Bossam is served as a social, roll-your-own lettuce cup (similar to san choy bow), with smoked chilli peppers, fermented mixed nut chili salsa, and (of course) the oh-so-smokey brisket. This one stole the show for us – when a dish makes you stop and contemplate life’s mysteries, you know you’ve ordered well.
Mon – Sun / 11am – Late