So in the past year I’d gotten highly jealous every time I saw Yong Green Food pop up in write ups around the foodie-sphere. “Oh, but why is it not me that gets to write about kimchi pancakes?” I would lament from the depths of my fainting couch (every lady should have one). I made pact after pact with myself that it would be the very next next place I visited, oh yes… and then all of a sudden it’d been open for a year and I still hadn’t got there!
Then one day kicking it back in the staff room, Nadine turned to me and said “So I had this amazing dinner the other day at this place on Brunswick Street called Yong Green Food…”
I sat bolt upright. “You’ve been to Yong Green Food?”
“Yeah, it was all Korean and vegetarian, I figured you must have eaten there.”
“OH MY GOD WAS IT AMAZING WHAT DID YOU EAT DID YOU HAVE KIMCHI PANCAKE CAN WE GO THERE NOW AND JUST EAT EVERTHING?”
“Wow, I’m finding this moment right now quite confronting.”
Fortunately I was able to calm down enough to reassure Nadine that I wasn’t on the verge of having some kind of violent episode, and to organise a dinner date with her and Muffin.
The first piece of advice I can offer about Yong Green Food is to get there EARLY. I figured to myself “Hey, a Tuesday night at 6.30, going to be easy to get a table.” False. I was lucky enough to slip onto the last four-person table, and then spent the time waiting for the others to show watching a lot of people getting turned away. Yong Green is doing very, VERY well for itself.
I was about to find out why. While waiting for my compatriots to arrive, I ordered a pot of quince honey tea to mull over. A giant pot was delivered to the table, and this astounding sweet aroma engulfed me. If you like gorgeous, fruity tea that completely overwhelms any stresses that currently reside in you and renders you a happy, peaceful, nattering blob by the time your friends arrive (“This tea, guys! Wow, this tea…”) you will be well served.
To the dishes! Well, obviously I went with the kimchi pancake with soy mayo. The pancake itself is enormous, reaching the very edges of the dinner plate it was served on, yet was thin and crispy, and all in all lived up to my high expectations. The soy mayo was an utter revelation, especially as I’ve always found regular mayonnaise to be an obnoxious condiment.
Nadine also ordered the pancake (probably because I hadn’t shut up about it for days), yet was full of trepidation when informed that kimchi is fermented chilli cabbage. “Is it hot? Oh no, I don’t like things too spicy!” The pancake did have a reasonable kick of spice to it, yet once spread with the amazing soy mayo the spice was held back to a pleasant level. Soy mayo, you can be my condiment of choice anytime.
Muffin ordered some kimchi gyoza that she shared around. The skins were thin and crisp, the filling not quite as hot as the pancake but still retaining that agreeable tart kimchi tang, and the sharp dipping sauce rounded it off nicely.
For my main I went with the ‘dragon bowl’, which was essentially a fresh, light version of bibimbap, with brown rice, tofu, beansprouts, grated carrot, pickled purple cabbage, mixed salad leaves and a healthy blobbing of Korean chilli paste. This was a perfect solid main meal, with each component providing interest and contrast (I particularly liked the sweetness of the beanshoots, which seemed to have been marinated beforehand). Again, if you were afeared of heat, I would recommend asking whether they could dial back the chilli paste when you order, there was a lot of it, enough to make me slow down a bit towards the end to ingest more tea, and I’m normally okay with Korean chilli paste!
Time to finish off with a dessert three-way, with blueberry raw cheesecake, raw carrot cake, and chocolate fudge. Although we ordered these to share, the three of us managed to become partial to a different one each. For me the blueberry cheesecake was the perfect way to end the meal, with the almond and berry overtones smooth and juicy in your mouth, and having a very pleasing texture that wasn’t as grainy as some raw cakes I’ve had in the past. Nadine was a fan of the carrot cake, while Muffin took a liking to the fudge, championing it in the face of myself and Nadine’s shrugs of “It’s not BAD, it’s just… it’s not CAKE!”
Yong Green Food is a utter winner in my book. It’s vegetarian and is having what appears to be an obscene amount of fun in pushing what it can do with veggie cuisine. The staff are friendly, the fit-out gorgeous (pro-tip: Hayley will love your restaurant aesthetically if you cover a whole wall with a mural of a giant dragon), it’s the whole box and dice, people. Get along, and have a kimchi pancake for me.
Yong Green Food
421 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Ph: 9417 3338