[Eating out]: The Gaya – Applecross

Just recently, I have added my blog onto Urbanspoon. In a sense, it was a way to get me to blog a bit more regularly (not sure where my logic comes from!). Anyway! I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invite through Urbanspoon from Leo, the owner of The Gaya in Applecross. 
Initially it was just a table for 4, but given how busy I will be in November, I figured it was a good chance to just treat this as my birthday dinner. Yes, it’s very early and for the first time in 8 years, I won’t be whipping up a birthday feast. Instead, I let The Gaya do that this year =P 

The Gaya is a less casual Korean dining experience. Leo’s vision was to introduce Korean food to the greater public as something other than Korean BBQ. Expect to find dishes that are more refined in presentation, but still retaining that classic flavour.

Rice patties
Fried cheese
Upon placing our orders, we were given some complimentary snacks in the form of pan-fried rice patties with some spicy mayo, and fried cheese. The rice patties were a bit stodgy and stuck to your teeth (glutinous rice?) so I didn’t like it much. I don’t like cheese but my family said the fried cheese were good.
Side dishes

Next up were the banchan (side dishes) that accompanied our mains. These are a lot different to what you see elsewhere. There was a spicy mung bean salad, asparagus stir-fried with beef, marinated capsicum, pasta salad. My favourite was the mung bean salad, but it was a bit too salty particularly as these arrived long before our meals.

Side dishes
Note that The Gaya doesn’t actually serve kimchi as a banchan, though it can be ordered as a side. We ordered one because seriously, we’re Kimchi-obsessed! Unfortunately, the kimchi that day was a bit too fermented for my liking =( 
Crab croquette

We only ordered one entree which were the crab croquettes. These were fried VERY well and came out hot. The crust was extremely crispy, encasing a creamy centre. Unfortunately, they use the seafood sticks rather than real crab. They were much too creamy for me, but my Dad and sister SC loved it. 

36 Pork
After a little wait, it was time for our mains! We all just shared everything so everyone got a taste of what was on offer. The 36 pork ($30) was a must-order, given the 4-5 pork belly fans in my family! It was nice and tender, and by the time it got down to our end of the table, the skin was missing! The puree was amazingly smooth and went well with the apples to add some sweetness whilst the smear of ssamjang added some extra salt and spice. 
Seafood stew

The seafood stew ($28) was chosen by mum, and what a good choice it was! It was sweet with the seafood’s freshness and packed with ingredients. There were prawns, fish, squid and vegetables in there. I particularly like the addition of the bonito flakes which added a hint of smoke. This came with rice and would be a great choice in colder weather or when you need some comfort food!

T&P steak
The T&P Steak ($30) was a sight to behold! Tuna tataki with two grilled tiger prawns on a bed of lettuce and potato mash (?). This was good. The tuna was fresh and tender, but the prawns were slightly undercooked. The meat was cooked and deliciously bouncy, but the heads were significantly undercooked which is a shame because we like to eat the roe in there. My sis-in-law and I found the smear of celeriac puree a bit too sweet, though I liked the hint of citrus in it. 
Gaya bulgogi
The Gaya bulgogi ($28) was commonplace. There wasn’t anything particularly mind-blowing about it. There were hidden sweet potato noodles in the pot! This also comes with a bowl of rice, and an accompanying gochujang-based sauce. Honestly, the stew has enough flavour, the sauce isn’t actually needed. 
Gaya combo
My nan is quite a picky eater in the sense that sometimes you are allowed to eat something, but sometimes you’re not. But she mostly errs towards fish when we eat out so we thought the Gaya combo ($30) would be a good choice. As you can see, it’s quite a hefty meal! The grilled mackeral was superb! Not everyone would like it as mackeral tends to have quite a fishy taste, but the flesh was soft and smooth. It was cooked perfectly. The accompanying side dishes are similar to what we had above, but there were also tempura zucchini, soy-marinated tofu (so good!) and a radish kimchi.
I thought the tomato and cucumbers were a little random. Maybe a chopped tomato salsa would be good to add some acidity, or perhaps some radish/ginger? 
The accompanying beef (?) stew was extremely salty but it tasted nice – a bit like the pork bones stews with doenjang. 
Beef short rib
Before I even stepped into the restaurant, I knew I wanted the beef short rib ($30). This was easily my favourite of the night! The beef was extremely tender and the flavours were amazing! I’ve actually made this before for GC and myself, and I’m glad that I actually had similar flavours! The sauce was so good, we spooned it onto the rice to eat =P
Gaya BBQ rib galbi

The Gaya BBQ rib galbi ($30) was also quite nice, though fell short compared to the above beef dish. I would’ve liked for there to be more of the smokey grilled flavour, and it tended to be a bit chewy around the bones. That’s fine for me since I like chewing the bones, but I can imagine others would find it bothersome (i.e., GC and JC, hence why I got the bones). The flavours were spot-on with the moreish sweet-salty balance. The glutinous rice was a bit bland, but we liked the radish which added some freshness amongst the meat. Mum also loved the potato salad!

Green tea icecream

Now it was time for desserts! My favourite! We had 2 serves of green tea icecream ($6). That’s what one serve looks like! It’s easily about 3 scoops…for $6. They are extremely generous! It was deliciously creamy and smooth. I like a very strong matcha taste, so I would’ve liked for it to be more matcha, but I’m sure most people would be happy with it.

Red misu

After seeing WenY and Kristy’s reviews, I knew I was going to order the Red Misu ($8). This was really nice! I thought it would have a stronger adzuki taste throughout it, but the coffee was still quite strong and overpowered the adzuki unless you ate chunks of the beans. I’m not sure if the adzuki beans are made in-house but they were a bit sweet for me. Nevertheless, it was extremely enjoyable and a nice cream:sponge ratio. I also love their spoons and want one!

Pave chocolate

I’m not sure why, but GC’s first choice was actually the pave chocolate ($8), and an extra ice-cream was ordered only after SC said she wasn’t going to share (yeahhh, she’s like that =.=’). Anyway, I thought the chocolate would be like Japanese nama chocolate but it definitely wasn’t as smooth and rich like that. It was actually too sweet for me and a bit grainy as well, which made me think if they were sugar crystals? It’s not something I would order again, especially with the red misu, and GC and I preferred the nama chocolates that I make at home.

And so that ends our feast at The Gaya! It was a shame I didn’t get to chat with Leo a bit further about his vision, and it was quite crowded when I was speaking to him as we left so it was a bit hard to hear.

As part of the invite, I was given 50% of the total bill, which was very good value for a family of 8! I would definitely go back for the braised beef short ribs and the red misu. Give me those and I’ll be in a happy food coma afterwards haha.

Thanks for the invite, Leo! We thoroughly enjoyed our meals!

The Gaya Applecross on Urbanspoon

Thanks for reading! ^^


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