I started eating sushi at the age of about 12 (let’s not go into how long ago that was), before it was even a twinkle in Beluga’s eye. Sizzling duck pancakes in plum sauce form part of one of my earliest (and happiest – clearly a foodie in the making) childhood memories. And until the age of about eight I thought ‘xiexie ni‘ was just something you said to wait staff in general.
Asian cuisine may not be in my blood, but it’s certainly on my menu often enough. So it’s amazing that it’s taken me this long to get to Galbi, Long Street’s Korean fusion barbecue spot.
What is a Korean fusion barbecue, you might well ask…
Galbi gui houses are popular eating establishments in Korea where marinated meat is cooked right at your table – usually by you. Coenraad Groenewald and Louis Smit have brought the concept to Cape Town, adding South African flavours to the menu, such as springbok, warthog and even zebra.
We were in the mood for something quick and tasty after a few post-work rounds, and Galbi definitely hit the spot. Somehow the dressed-down, very Long-Street-esque interior feels like you might have stepped into an actual Korean dive. Rows of wooden tables each have a sunken pit for coals, while copper extractors hang down from the ceiling to whisk away any smoke.
Jalapeno poppers, halloumi skewers and pear wedges wrapped in prosciutto make excellent appetisers before you move on to the big guns. I can vouch for the dwaegi galbi (thin strips of pork belly in a spicy marinade), but next time I’m heading for the Xinjing chilli lamb skewer or kimchi wors (beef sausage stuffed with kimchi, Korea’s national dish of spicy fermented cabbage). And don’t worry: vegetarians are well catered for.
I’m no great shakes in the kitchen, but managed not to give myself trichinosis, and even crisp my pork belly enough to be highly enjoyable, especially next to a generous serving of tempura veggies.
Not into cooking your own? A short menu of prepared noodle and rice dishes is available, of which the bibimbap takes first prize. This hot pot of rice, spinach, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and fried egg is immensely flavourful. If you’ve come hungry, order one of the Galbi Sets. Designed to be shared between two, they offer a selection of grill-ready dishes and popular sides.
Where 210 Long Street, CBD
Trading hours Monday to Saturday from 5 pm (call a day in advance if you’d like to have lunch)
Contact +27 21 424 3030, www.galbi.co.za
Photography Courtesy, Jade Cooke