A couple of Saturdays ago we were searching for a lunch venue and wanted to try something a bit different than our usual salad/sandwich fare and we came across Arirang Korean Restaurant. It had been a really long time since we had Korean food so we jumped in the Jeep and off we headed to Rivonia.
Arirang Korean Restaurant
Arirang is located in the Rivonia Centre at 369 Rivonia Boulevard. For some reason our GPS had issues with this address and it directed us a bit too far south to Rivonia Square which is not correct (there is also a different Korean restaurant there so beware). Arirang is just on the corner of Rivonia Blvd and 11th Avenue. There is parking available directly in front of the restaurant.
The decor at Arirang is bright but rather simple. The only view is to the street in front, unfortunately all too typical for restos here in Jozi. We ordered a glass of wine and a beer and set out to study the rather long menu (good descriptions and photos provided).
Gagnam Style ?
The menu is quite varied offering many pork, beef, chicken and fish/seafood items. There were also just enough veggie choices available to make the decision process a bit tough on me. For the more adventurous diners you may want to try some Ox Tongue BBQ, Fried Cattle Intestines or possibly the Steamed Silkworm Pupae Stew (sorry you won’t be getting on reviews on those dishes here but please let me know if you try one). Prices range from about R75 to R180 for most dishes with some a bit higher (mostly seafood) at R180-R250.
I decided on the Bibim Kuk Soo, which is spicy kimchi (can kimchi be anything but spicy?) and vegetable noodles (90 ZAR). I have had kimchi (Korean cabbage) many times before and love it so I had absolutely no fear of this dish however if you are in the least bit spice sensitive, order something else (you have been officially warned). The carnivore chose something more on the mild side with the Bulgogi Dop Bab; marinated beef with rice and fried egg (110 ZAR).
We wanted to order a starter to share but there were none on the menu, so we stayed with the 2 mains. This was for the best as just after placing our order, our server returned with 6 little trays filled with mostly unidentifiable tidbits. At this point we were a bit confused, not knowing if this came with our order or if we would be charged extra but it looked good and we decided to just go with the flow. We did ask our server to ID the dishes but she must have been new because she had to go and get someone else to help out.
Arirang Starters (clockwise from upper left): kimchi, kimchi patties, vienna sausages, potatoes, spinach and bean sprouts
We were starving and completely finished off our starters (is there some other more Korean term for these?). Our server then arrived with 4 more little trays to replace the empties. We were now totally confused and asked ourselves if maybe we had committed some giant Korean faux-pas by chowing down on these dishes before our mains arrived.
Our mains soon followed our newly replenished trays and I was stunned when my ginormous bowl of kimchi noodles arrived. The carnivore’s beef dish was much more normal sized. With much enthusiasm, we tucked into our mains and with my very first bite, I knew I had met my match spice-wise. This dish had so much chili, my entire mouth was soon alight. I quickly ordered more wine to help douse the flames emitting from mouth towards my sneering carnivore across the table.
Bibim Kuk Soo
A few minutes after our plates arrived, the server returned with yet another bowl containing a soup like substance and placed it next to the beef dish. I suggested pouring a bit over the dryish meat however the carnivore decided to eat it separately (another faux-pas perhaps?). Our server was polite but reserved (as I said earlier, she was probably new) but I suppose we should have asked a few more questions. When our server did start to open up a bit more, she asked us if it was our first time eating Korean food. HA.
Bulgogi Dop Bab
Despite my spice, we both loved our dishes and the entire meal. I was able to get 2 leftover meals out of my kimchi noodles. I toned down the spice a bit at home by adding a bit (ok a lot) of fresh lemon juice (did 13 years of living in spice-phobic France turn me into a wimp or was this dish really that hot?). Our check came out to 320 ZAR for the 2 mains with drinks and we weren’t changed anything for the extras. We will be going back soon as there is a lot more on the menu I still need to try so if anyone has been there and has some tips for us, please let me know.
One last parting close-up shot of the chilis