Dari Korean Cafe and Bar
The CBD cafe serving up a jam and salad sandwich made famous by K-pop stars.
The word 'dari' meaning 'bridge' in Korean is the foundation for Hardware Lane's newest Korean eatery: Dari Korean Cafe. Melding together Australian and Korean cafe culture, Dari boasts a large array of Korean sandwiches and sweet treats typically seen on the streets of Busan and Seoul.
Owner and founder Yoon-Ji Park wanted to showcase the flavours from her childhood, where she grew up working and living in Korean restaurants, and show Melburnians a different type of Korean food. "I wanted to replicate the flavours of my childhood from Korea here in Melbourne," says Yoon-Ji. "So many people see one side of Korean food in Australia, but there is so much more out there."
At Dari, skip your morning coffee and opt for one of the many drinks made with malted rice or job's tears (a grain native to Southeast Asia). Order the hot job's tears latte, similar to Korean yulmu-cha, brewed with soy milk — or versions made with sweet potato or pumpkin, which are boiled down with milk and honey. For those summer months (or warmer winter days), Dari also offers Hong Cho (a fermented Korean vinegar drink, with a similar to taste to kombucha) which Yoon-Ji imports from the capital.
At lunch, Dari offers grilled and cold sandwiches, with vegetarian and dairy-free options available. But they're not the sort of sangas you'll find at your local corner store. The Mexican Salad Bun features layers of cabbage, ham, egg, mayonnaise, ketchup and Sriracha in a Japanese-style milk bun, while the Idol Sandwich is a take on the inkigayo sandwich, which has been made famous by K-pop stars on the South Korean TV show Inkigayo.
A recent viral sensation, the sandwich is said to have been created by the show's stars using ingredients from the broadcasting studio's cafeterias. It's made from an unusual combination of strawberry jam, slaw and egg salad — and, if you're unsure about how good it will taste, you can get lost in a YouTube rabbit hole watching videos of people making and eating it.
For those cooler days, the grilled sandwiches are the go, with ones stuffed with bulgogi beef and spicy pork with ssamjang mayo. Then, if you're not already full, try the sweet soy and rice cake toast for dessert — it has a similar consistency to Japanese mochi. The thick slices of white bread are layered with rice cake and condensed milk and drizzled with sweet soy and honey.
At dinnertime, Dari currently serves up a simple menu of savoury pancakes, bulgogi plates and hot pots, but, in the future, Yoon-Ji hopes to expand this.
Images: Julia Sansone.