Peter Jo, better known in the industry as 'Kimchi Pete', boasts a resume from the likes of Sydney's Berta, Momofuku Seiobo and the now-closed 121BC and Melbourne's Belles Hot Chicken. While working as a sommelier at the aforementioned venues, the self-taught chef has also been in the kitchen for a host of pop-ups. Luckily, his latest venture is more permanent.
This month, Jo opened the doors to his first solo venue Restaurant Shik. The new Korean diner along Niagara Lane is combining a family-style, ethically sourced menu with an expertly curated wine list.
The restaurant is inspired by the food Jo grew up with, having started out at his parent's popular Korean barbecue joints, Madang and Danjee in Sydney's CBD. He has continued to expand his knowledge and love of the cuisine, with a keen interested in how it fits into the Australian dining culture.
The restaurant offers casual dining for 65 guests — bar seating included. The concise menu uses traditional recipes and techniques like lacto-fermentation, salt-preservation, curing, pickling and drying. Jo has also worked closely with farmers, foragers, producers and suppliers to source ethical, sustainable and fresh Aussie ingredients.
He aims to demonstrate the scope of Korean cuisine, splitting the family-style menu into four sections: entrée, grilled, braised and banchan (traditional side dishes). Think pig skin terrine with garlic chive dressing, kimchi-marinated grilled pork neck and braised blue mackerel with Korean radish and chrysanthemum leaf. The banchan includes seasonal kimchi along with jangajji (pickled veg) in perilla leaf, green tomato and Korean cucumber varieties.
The wine list is an epic sommelier's collaboration between Jo, Liz Carey (ex-somm at Semi Permanent) and Josh Begbie (ex-Embla), who will act as the restaurant's sommelier going forward. Like the menu, the wines are similarly concise but diverse, focusing on eco-conscious vineyards. It is sure to have some extra special drops on there – as to be expected from this caliber of wine minds.
Restaurant Shik is now open at 30 Niagara Lane, Melbourne. Opening hours are Monday through Saturday from 5pm to 11pm.