Food and Drink



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Melbourne’s in the midst of a Korean food boom and one of its original K-players has just reopened with a new menu and an adventurous new fit-out.

Located within Hardware Street’s burgeoning food scene, KOBA has now reopened after taking time out for a bit of a nip and tuck, and plenty of beauty sleep.

That’s not to say that owner Rosa Kim has had time to rest. The 24-year-old entrepreneur has been busy busy busy.

Working with some of Melbourne’s most respected local designers, KOBA’s reinvigorated design is all thanks to the art direction of Eddie Zammit and illustration work of Eleven. Think a mix of 80’s computer games and Asian pop culture. It’s vibrant, youthful and just darn right fun.

Kim has also spent the last few months working with consultant chef Ken Kim (Grand Hyatt, Melbourne), and has added some of Korea’s most loved street foods to the menu including Korean Fried Chicken; Topokki (spicy rice cakes with vegetables); Sweet Potato Fries and Korean Sliders while retaining favourites the Korrito (Korean Burrito) filled with kimchi rice, cheese, slaw, kimchi and vegetables; Korean Tacos; Rice Bowls and Kimchi Fries.

When Milkbar went to check out the new and improved KOBA, we had a blast right from the off. The staff are super friendly and helpful and Kim is just great.

Once she finished university she had no interest in hopping on the corporate wagon, and cooking is something she has always been interested in. KOBA is her way of bringing Korean to a new audience.

“We offer a mash-up of Korean and modern. It’s a different way of presenting this type of food to those that haven’t tried Korean before,” she tells us.

“Korean is definitely under-represented in the cool factor. Everything is very traditional but we are going for something a bit more street smart, targeting a younger crowd.”

That’s all well and good, her ideas are smart and the place looks great but now for the important stuff. How was the food?

We couldn’t help but sample a range of the menu and we were definitely not disappointed. It was all very fresh, and I’m not just saying that because you can practically see it being made behind the counter.

Nothing soggy or stodgy or heavy about the Korrito, which are often problems I find with burritos. In fact it was light and the tomato salsa was a wonderfully fresh addition.

The sliders were on a slightly brioche type bun and the crispy onions were a superb addition, their distinctive and powerful taste offset by the Asian slaw.

The kimchi fries were very tasty although I would have liked a bit more kimchi on them. That’s probably just greed though as those doused in kimchi tasted the best!

And now for the piece de resistance. I’ve definitely saved the best to last. The soy garlic fried chicken wings. I would do terrible things for these. Just wow. I feel like trying to describe them is only going to do them an injustice.

So you should probably go and try them for yourself!

KOBA Korean Street Food
119 Hardware Street, Melbourne CBD
Monday – Wednesday, 11:30AM – 4:30PM
Thursday – Saturday, 11:30AM – 9:30PM

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