Lucia’s, Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide Central Market

photo: Janice Chan

date of visit: Friday 6 January 2012

A visit to the Adelaide Central Market with some out of towners meant an obligatory first stop at Lucia’s.

I’m guessing by now most South Australians are yawning and thinking we know about Lucia’s and everyone else is thinking that this is another Adelaide restaurant review, move along, nothing to see here.

And that’s kind of true. But it’s worth pointing out that whether you’re a local or a visitor, a Lucia’s first timer, or an old hand, that this tiny (and crammed and very busy, at any time of day) café is worth visiting.

On this trip, it was coffee and panforte for my overseas guests and me, and babycino for the baby. We managed to grab a table inside, soak up a skerrick of Adelaide history and leave before the lunch time crowd hit.

Besides coffee and cake, Lucia’s offers more substantial food and you can book a table or take your luck. You won’t be having a leisurely lunch but you can always head next door and buy some Lucia’s pasta to take home with you.

And if you’re not in town, Lucia’s now has a shop in Mitcham.

Lucia's on Urbanspoon

Ga Bin Korean Restaurant

Chilli Pork Set

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.

Ga Bin
144 Grote Street
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 08 8231 9996

Ga Bin on Urbanspoon

Tangritah Uyghur

date of visit:  December 2009

NOTE: since our visit the restaurant now claims to be under new management … we haven’t made it back to see if things have changed.

It was up to Andy to choose a venue for a Friday night dinner and, without hesitating, he knew he wanted to try out Tangritah Uyghur* on Grote Street.

This is a restaurant which is easy to miss – it is towards Morphett Street on the northern side of Grote, with a tiny shop frontage. A sign announces “Tangritah Uyghur Shish Kebab Restaurant: all foods are especially handmade”.

The Uyghur are an ethnic group which, predominantly, lives in north western China. They are Turkic, rather than Chinese, and their religion is Islam. In recent times, there has been some tension between the Uyghurs in China and the Chinese administration.**

Inside, the restaurant has just a few tables and the majority are set up bench-style, so you may end up sharing space with other diners. It is quite basic but as long as you’re not expecting silver-service I can’t see how this would be a problem.

There’s quite a range of dishes on the menu, and most are handily priced at just $10.  We opted for lamb kebabs (5 for $10), a lamb pan pie (both Uyghur specialties) and a dumpling soup.  To drink we just enjoyed the green tea.  This meant that the bottom line was just $30 for ample food for 2.

The kebabs were served on huge skewers with a sensible dose of chilli.  By this I mean that you could taste the chilli but it would probably only frighten the most sensitive palates.

For me the real wins of the meal were the pan pie and the dumpling soup.  In my opinion, it’s possible that Tangritah Uyghur’s dumplings give Dumpling King a run for its money.  Of course, that might be a point which requires further investigation …

The pan pie was not for the faint hearted … a lightly spiced lamb mince filling was encased in bread and then shallow fried.  This is the type of food I love but it’s possible that people watching their diet might feel a little differently!

We polished off all of our food and felt very full afterwards so I suspect we may have been a little ambitious when it came to ordering.  We watched tables near us and parties of 4 were happy sharing one of the $25 hot pots.  A lot of the food is very rich and works on the principle of taking a little meat and making it go a long way.  The lamb pan pie, in particular, would be fantastic winter fare.

If you happen to be near the Central Markets and you happen to be hungry, then a visit to Tangritah Uyghur should be on your list of things to do.

Tangritah Uyghur Shishkebab Restaurant on Urbanspoon

address: 116 Grote Street, Adelaide, SA, 5000

Tangritah Uyghur

Incredibly cheap and tasty

Cheap, tasty Uyghur food – specialties like dumpling soup, shishkebabs and lamb pan pies. Hearty and warming food.

Rating:4.0 stars
****

*If, like me, you have no idea how to pronounce this, it’s “wee-gar”.
** As this is a food blog rather than an ethnography or political blog, I’m going to leave it at that.