One of my ex-teammate went to work in a smaller scale local company. As a result, she can no longer enjoy flexible lunch hours. Since her office is basically right across the road from Queensbay Mall, whenever we want to meet up for lunch, it was always the mall.
Except that last Friday, we really didn’t feel like going into the mall. So we decided to go to this place instead. It was even better logistically, the restaurant is located in the same cluster of shops where the ex-teammate’s new office is located.
Aza Aza Starvil is a Korean BBQ restaurant located in the cluster of shops/offices collectively known as Bayan Bay, directly opposite Queensbay Mall. This restaurant used to be new when I was new to Penang, but as I am no longer new to Penang, this restaurant is also not considered to be new.
I have been here before for a few times, every time for lunch. I don’t think this is a particularly great Korean restaurant, but it does has a few things going for me.
1. It is very near Queensbay Mall/Bayan Lepas area
I work in one of the MNC factories in Bayan Lepas, so the location is convenient. If we want Korean food close to office, it is either here or Dao Rae. If you are Malaysian and into Korean food, I’m sure you know Dao Rae means Rich People in Malaysian Korean Cuisine language. Contrary to popular belief, us engineers are really not rich.
2. No-headache menu
They don’t have a wide selection of items on their menu. In fact, there’s only four pages of food selection. And they have English/Chinese explanation of the dishes. So it is relatively easy to decide on what to eat.
In fact, we only come here for lunch, so we avoid the BBQ meats. It is hardly ideal to do BBQ then go back to work with wonderful smelling shirt, is it? So it is just two pages for us.
The time we saved on procrastinating on the menu and exploding our heads can instead be spent watching Running Man on the in-house TV.
3. (Used to be) Delicious Banchan
One thing we loved about Aza Aza was their banchan (unlimited refill side dishes). Unlike most higher end Korean restaurants that serve 8 or 12 varieties, they only had 5. But all 5 were done properly and delicious.
But last week we went, the sausages (our favorite) were no more. There’s only 4 side dishes now.
The potato salad was our second favorite, but it was not as tasty as before. I think they became stingy with the mayonnaise.
Their portions are huge. Like, seriously HUGE!
I think both the rice dishes were made with two bowls of rice each..
The pork dish was mine, I ordered it to go with a bowl of rice. I counted 25 slices of pork, and the colleagues sampled a few pieces, so I would say, about 30 slices?
I have a Korean co-worker in the office. Of course he is much more senior than me. He has been working in Malaysia for 15 or 20 years now, and has no intentions to return to Korea even for retirement. At least that’s what he said.
I once asked him which Korean restaurant is the most authentic in Penang. This was his response (approximately):
“Nooo, every one is same here. Korean food is easy to make, so many Korean markets here now, you can buy all the imported things to cook. But eating Korean food here is no same as eating in Korea. Even you cook the same food, exactly the same method, the taste is no exactly the same. Why? Because the temperature here is different. Korean food is spicy and warm, suitable for the colder Korean whether. If you eat them here, you will feel different. That’s why I no eat Korean food in Malaysia, I eat other things..”
He did say that he particularly likes a Korean restaurant in Koreatown KL (the Ampang one) for their jajangmyeon (Fried sauce noodles). I think I know which restaurant, but I don’t remember the name of that restaurant..
I’m not sure if he is fibbing on me or not, but that’s what he said. If you noticed some broken English, yeah.. I am typing while imagining him saying these to me..
But what he said correlates with what my friends who have been to Korea told me. You can sample all the Korean restaurants in Malaysia, but they will never be as delicious as the meals you will have in Korea.