The Asia Bar and Restaurant, Cairns *CLOSED DOWN*
A couple of weeks ago my new-to-Cairns friend Baking Myself Happy and I went for dinner at a place that I spotted when I popped into First Choice Liquor for a bottle of wine. After seeing what looked like a new Asian restaurant I sauntered over to check it out, peering inside to find a busy little Korean restaurant that I have never seen nor heard of before called The Asia Bar and Restaurant. Situated right underneath Bohemian Central Backpackers I was eager to check it out so I enlisted BMH to come to dinner with me so we could catch up and I could hear about her recent trip to Thailand. As it turns out BMH had never had Korean food before but said she would love to try it. We arrived together and parked in the First Choice Liquor carpark right near a lovely man that upon closer inspection was peeing on the wall. He didn’t seem to notice us as we walked past but I sure as hell noticed him – filthy man. Do not let my observations of this drunken individual deter you from visiting this delightful little restaurant since unfortunately this appears to be a regular sight in Cairns.
So we headed on into The Asia and found there wasn’t a vacant seat in the entire place which probably seats around 30 people. We also noticed that besides one other person we were the only non-Korean people in there. We both figured that any place that is full of traditional diners has to be good so we waited about 5 minutes for a table to be free and sat down. I have to admit it was a very awkward 5 minutes because we were not acknowledged nor spoken to by any of the wait staff. This didn’t deter us and after the waitress wiped down the table she handed us a couple of menus to have a look over before fetching us a bottle of water and a couple silver cups that made the ice cold water go down nicely.
We both ummed and ahhed over the menu and although everything on the menu sounded good there just wasn’t anything that particularly grabbed me. All except the Ttukbaegi Jjamppong Bap or as I like to call it Chinese-Style Earthen Pot with Vegetables and Seafood and Cellophane Noodles with Rice. Unfortunately for me this dish was only available on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Alas, I was a day late. In the end we both settled with the Bulgogi Deopbap or the Rice Topped with Beef for a mere AU$11. Can’t argue with that! I also ordered some Japanese Pickle to go with my dish – a steal for only AU$1!
While we waited BMH recounted wondrous stories of private plunge pools and endless amounts of Som Tum in Thailand. There were also not so wondrous stories of her nearly getting eaten alive by monkey’s on Monkey Beach near Phi Phi. When I went to Monkey Beach I didn’t get off the damn boat. I never liked monkey’s you can’t trust them and they also scare the sh*t out of me. While waiting for our main meals the waitress brought over the Japanese Pickle that I ordered along with a small dish of Kimchi (a traditional fermented Korean dish that tastes much nicer than it sounds). We only waited about 10 to 15 minutes for our meals to arrive and when they did they really weren’t too much to look at. To me all it looked like was some Beef and Veggies on top of some rice with a bit of salad on the side. Well maybe that is why it’s called Rice topped with Beef? D’uh.
Anyway turns out we were actually both pleasantly surprised with our meals despite their appearance. Okay the meals didn’t look bad just super boring I guess. The beef was really tender with a slightly sweet flavour to it. It was quite delicious! I added a bit of Kimchi to mine to give it a little bit more spice although there is a tray on each table with spices and sauces for you to add your own if you like. The serving size was quite large, almost too large for me to finish even though I picked all the onion out of it (I’m a sook, I know). The addition of the wedge of orange on the side was a nice touch to cleanse the palate at the end of the meal (at least that’s what I think it was for).
So it turns out that BMH really enjoyed her introduction to Korean food and I enjoyed introducing her. I would really love to go back on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday and try the ‘Chinese Earthen Pot’ or maybe even the Spicy Sausage Stew with Rice which is AU$25 for two people. The food was really yummy and cheap too costing only AU$25 for the two of us. The Asia is a little bit loud with the conversations of other diner’s being a little bit deafening at times. BMH and I did have trouble hearing parts of each others conversation so that we had to resort to the old smile and nod every now and then. Unless you are planning on an intimate dinner don’t let that deter you. The atmosphere at The Asia is a lot nicer than another popular Korean restaurant in Cairns, Corea Corea at Orchid Plaza and a hell of a lot cleaner too. The Asia Bar and Restaurant is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before a catching movie in the city. That’s if you can get a table.
The Asia Bar and Restaurant
100 Sheridan St, Cairns QLD 4870 (underneath the Bohemian Central Backpackers)
Ph: 0407 974 338
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed & Thurs 5pm – 10pm, Fri & Sat 5pm – 12pm, Sun 5pm – 10pm