date of visit: Friday 29 April
Adelaide seems to be a bit awash with Korean restaurants at the moment. I’m not spending as much time in town so I’m reliant on my partner to report on the rapidly changing restaurant scene (which means I get to hear about the restaurants he wants to visit). We’re both big fans of Korean food so it’s hardly surprising that Ga Bin rated an early mention.
The restaurant is in an old furniture sales room on the corner of Morphett and Grote streets. The location and the large building make for an imposing space and it’s really lovely to see that the owners haven’t been tempted to cram in tables. The restaurant is, however, choc full of hard surfaces and right angles and I suspect if it were full it would be hard to hear yourself think.
Fortunately for me, grumpy old lady that I am, Friday lunch time is a quiet time for Ga Bin and our table of three was just one of a handful so things were quiet and we could have a civilised conversation.
The main menu is actually a mix of Chinese and Korean dishes. I’m never sure if this is a good or bad thing. Personally, I like to see restaurants have a short menu that makes sense and is cooked well. A menu that offers “garlic flavored [sic] fried chicken”, “garlic flavored [sic] fried king prawns” and “garlic flavored [sic] fried pork” is just a bit disturbing. But I guess that a broad menu offering some Korean and some Chinese dishes is one that might have wider appeal. There’s no Korean BBQ, so no danger of having to cook your dinner yourself!
We all ended up ordering from the lunch specials menu: I chose the chilli pork set, Andy the bulgogi set and the third party chose the shrimp fried rice (all under $10). We shared dumplings to start. The dumplings came with individual portions of dipping sauce which was a good touch. There was a complaint that the shrimp fried rice could have contained more prawns. However, the two lunch sets hit the mark. I thought I won with the chilli pork but Andy disagreed and was happy with his bulgogi. The lunch sets come with all manner of tasty sides: various pickles (of course), rice, soup, tofu, omelette. I found it all perfectly proportioned.
Our visit was swift. The restaurant wasn’t busy so we were served extremely promptly and the food came out quickly. As it was lunch and there were other things to do (people to see and so on) the fact that we were in and out in about an hour can be seen as a positive. Anyone who works nearby can nip in for lunch without worrying about stern looks on their return to the office.
I’d definitely return for lunch and I’d be happy to check out the main menu over a casual dinner. Ga Bin fits in with much of the food scene around Gouger and Grote Streets but it doesn’t strike me as being a venue for a slow, intimate meal. Ga Bin is definitely a venue where you need to make up your own mind: if you like Korean food you had best check it out while it is not too busy.
144 Grote Street
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 08 8231 9996