Soban, Oakleigh

Friday night is almost always lazy night. Sometimes I resist the temptation to eat out, but more often than not, laziness trumps any sort of self-discipline. Last Friday night's eating adventure involved an impromptu visit to Soban, Oakleigh along with hubby and my parents. None of us had ever been before, and I thought it seemed like a great time to try someplace new.

We decided to get four main dishes to share, and the first one was good old samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup). It was the perfect, hearty indulgence on that rainy night. The broth was rich and nutritious and there was plenty of soft meat to go around.

Next up was haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) which had a reasonable mix of seafood (e.g. mussels, shrimp, squid). What I found interesting was the flour that was used in the batter. I can't pinpoint what it was exactly but it was slightly coarser and denser that others that I've had. Regardless, it was still quite light and crispy, and the dipping sauce made it even better!

One of the rice dishes we ordered was the stone pot bibimbap (mixed rice). For toppings we had beef, cucumber, spinach, bean sprouts, carrots and of course an egg. We weren't too adventurous and added half the amount of chilli pepper paste, but that was enough to bring the flavour out. I don't think the pot was hot enough, so the bottom layer of rice wasn't crispy.  This made it no different from a regular bibimbap, but I was actually happy about this because I'm personally not a fan of crunchy rice.

The other rice dish we ordered was the nakji dupbap (spicy octopus over rice) and oh my goodness, this was definitely my favourite dish of the night. That octopus was one of the juiciest and most tender I had ever had. We were probably so used to eating overcooked octopus that we initially suspected whether it was still raw, but no, it was just cooked to perfection. Even the rice was super tasty. I was scraping the bowl clean while hubby just gave me this really amused look.

We were a little bit naughty and ordered a bowl of red bean sherbet to share. The dessert was mediocre, as we found the red bean and mixed berries topping to be a little too sweet. Also, the mango slices were obviously frozen before and hadn't been thawed properly before serving. 

Don't let the small shop size fool you as it can get really busy if all tables are full. There was only one staff member on the floor doing everything from taking orders, distributing cutlery, serving dishes and taking payment. The dishes did take a little long to arrive but nothing unreasonable. I'm not in a position to comment on authenticity (having never set foot to Korea) but we all loved the food that night. Prices were fair, portions were generous, and flavours weren't overbearing. We will definitely be returning!

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