The first thing you’ll see when visiting BA:M Adelaide is a small garden area facing the street. It’s a welcome respite from the grey of surrounding office towers, but owners Rose Heo and Se Hwan Park say it wasn’t something they planned when they opened in January.
“I asked the council if we could put a dining area out on the street, but they said: ‘It's not going to happen – Currie Street is a main road with a lot of bus stops’,” says Heo. “So I thought, okay, we’ll bring outdoor dining inside our building.”
The couple converted what used to be a street-facing takeaway counter into an area filled with potted plants, two small tables and wooden panels through which you can see the restaurant’s interior. Step further inside and you’ll find relaxed, softly lit surroundings with raised wooden booths and a bar. Park is responsible for most of the design work.
The menu is a cross-cultural twist on traditional Korean cuisine. There’s bibimbap, but it’s served with yuzu dressing (a citrus fruit); there’s kimchi, but it’s inside arancini (inspired by Park’s previous experience working in an Italian restaurant). Korean fried chicken, of which they serve four types, is the crowd favourite. There is original, sweet and spicy, garlic and soya, and spring-onion salad.
Family and tradition influence the menu, albeit subtly. The recipe for the pork-hock dish, for instance, was passed down from Park’s parents. “His family have been running restaurants back in Korea for all of their lives, and they handed the recipe down to us,” says Heo.
“They actually made a master stock for us, which we keep using,” Park adds.
The wine list leans local; a range of Asian-inspired cocktails rounds out the drinks menu. Particularly popular are their “popsicle cocktails”, with choices including honeydew (served with soju, mint and lime) and strawberry sorbet (served with soju and apple).
Heo says their goal for the restaurant is to not only introduce their favourite dishes to the public, but to contribute to what they view as a limited Korean-food scene in Adelaide. “Korean food is really popular all over the world. It’s already booming in America and other countries,” says Heo.
“In Adelaide, people who aren’t from Korea are really into Korean culture. So I was thinking, as Koreans, we probably need to be proud of ourselves a bit more. We need to let people know more about us.”
20 Currie Street, Adelaide
(08) 8410 5237
Mon to Thurs 11.30am–2.30pm, 5.30pm–11pm
Fri 11.30am–2.30pm, 5.30pm–2am