I would never have found this place were it not for a work function. The biggest hindrance would be its subprime location, but that could be part of its appeal and consideration as a hidden gem. Warra Warra is located on Rainbow Alley, beyond Tivoli Arcade (use Cacao Green as a landmark) off Bourke St. Basically, walk into the arcade and head straight towards the rear exit of the building. Take a sharp right, and there you’ll find Warra Warra.
This is a Korean restaurant, run by Koreans. Yes, a tick for the authentic racial owner factor, so unlike many of the Japanese or worse, faux-Mexican joints that proliferate in Melbourne CBD these days. While you may classify the surge in Korean restaurants as a fad, it is one that is here to stay and for the benefit of CBDers. Where else can you turn up at 11pm, gulp down cold beer, and tuck into sizzling meats? Korean BBQ is one of the bestest late-night outing snack attacks!
The layout of the restuarant is simple, not the most comfy of chairs, and against the backdrop of the kitchen. About half the floor is arranged for smaller groups of 2-4, but a quick rearrangement and my group of 12 was easily accommodated. The drinks list is mediocre with juices, soft drinks, some wines and beers. I think if more effort was made to boost the number of sojus and korean beers, this place would instantly turn into a hit!
In comparison, the food menu is well structured, it is simple yet provides ample options to satisfy most diverse groups. The bulgogi and bibimbabs should obviously be your mains of choice if you are not intending to smell like your share BBQ. These are very well priced at $14 – $18, and will certainly fill you up quite nicely. I am tempted to try their soupy stews next time for $15.
The key let-down, the major flaw to Warra Warra was the lack of kimchi for the table. How can a Korean restaurant NOT keep up its serve of kimchi? A fatal mistake if there was one.
A minor point: the 2 person shared BBQ is $57.50 which is a hefty price to pay for only 4 options of beef, pork, chicken or 5 prawns. You do get a salad and appetizer as part of the deal, but I think you can get much cheaper options elsewhere, although I don’t know how much meat you’re getting for this price.
However, overall, Warra Warra is a nice compact restaurant situated away from the noisy crowds of Melbourne CBD. It offers a cosy atmosphere, with outdoor tables if you are impartial to the cold. Food is very well priced, and the individual main portions are generous. Drink options could be improved, but you are really here to satisfy your stomach. Sharing out several mains and sides would be the best option for a group of friends. Once you’re done here, Cabinet Bar & Balcony is right around the corner for drinks to last you the rest of the night.