iMart's banchan (Korean side dish). Photo: Charlotte Muru-Lanning

Metro Recommends: iMart's banchan (Korean side dish)

Metro Recommends is a regular recommendation of food we love, whether it's an unsung hero we want to share with the world, or a crowd favourite we can't help but sing the praises of.

Last week: Schweppes soda water with a twist of lemon

The best part of a Korean restaurant meal is the banchan (side dishes) which get brought out slightly before the main dishes arrive. I can’t get enough. This is bad because every time, without fail, I fill up on them and struggle to even make a dent in whatever it is that I’ve actually ordered. 

At iMart, a Korean Supermarket on Wakefield Street in the CBD, you can buy banchan, all by themselves, and to-go. No strings attached. You’ll find them in the little stall called Nuna Chance at the back of the supermarket. It’s hard to miss - just walk straight in and, well, keep walking. 

What they’ve got on offer changes seasonally and often daily. The gyeran-mari (egg roll)  is always there though. It’s $3.50, simple and has little flecks of carrot and spring onion in it which makes me feel (kind of) virtuous. 

This time I also opted for the deliciously sticky fried lotus root ($4.50), pickled radish ($3) and ‘splurged’ on the pickled perilla leaf ($6). I like to eat these balanced on top of the slices of gyeran-mari. To be honest, I slipped up a little by ordering four banchan. Traditionally, they’re always served in odd-numbers as even-numbers are considered bad luck. Just what I need. 

What’s really nice is there’s seating out the front of iMart so you can perch there and enjoy the odd-number of choices that you’ve made. And it’s right next to Freaky, so you can also have these with a very well-made coffee on the side - for the next two weeks at least! Freaky is closing for good soon, off to start a new venture, so this is a bit short-sighted of me to even mention. Enjoy the combo while you can I guess? iMart sells a whole lot of yum Korean drinks anyway so it’s not all bad. 

Rope a friend into coming to lunch with you for this. It won’t be hard. You’ll get more variety this way and they’ll be impressed by your thriftiness for sure. 

iMart | 9-15 Wakefield St

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