Melbourne, VIC 3000
CJ Lunch Bar and their chicken bulgogi with cheese seems to have a cult following. Arriving at the hole-in-a-wall restaurant at 6:20pm, we were faced with a 20 minute wait for seats that were crammed tighter than any restaurant I have ever seen. Everyone had a plate of chicken-cheesiness on their table, and there were some that had nothing but plates of chicken bulgogi, not even bothering with extra rice to go with it.
With every main meal ordered, there comes a side of banchan and a bowl of generously proportioned rice. The kimchi and sprouts were unremarkable, but I always enjoy the chewy strips of marinated gluten cakes whenever they’re served.
|Cheese Chicken Bulogi ($16.5)|
Our Cheese Chicken Bulgogi ($16.5) came out sizzling and engulfed in a cloud, explaining the smoky meatiness that permeated the restaurant. The entire dish was obscured by the strands of mild cheese that melted seductively over the chicken, making each piece sweet, spicy, and creamy. Though I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly makes it so, it is relentlessly addictive.
We wanted something green on the side, but veggies didn’t seem to be an option. We ended up having to make do with something that contained veggies, so the Japchae ($10) it was. The sweet potato noodles erred on the side of too chewy and too saccharine, but after the chicken, we had no room in our stomachs to care. At any rate, it made for a satisfying lunch the next day.
CJ Lunch Bar is more or less self-serve – you order at the counter and you grab your own cutlery, but the staff are still run off their feet with how busy the tiny shop manages to be. The feeling I get is that it’s a little bit of a case of quantity over quality here, but like everyone else, I don’t really mind.
Rating: 13/20 – protein fest.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.