Aza Aza Starvil

Aza Aza Starvil (아자아자화이팅) is a newly-opened Korean restaurant just opposite of Queensbay Mall. It is operated by a young Korean-Malaysian couple, who are both present at the restaurant when we visited tonight.
The Korean name of the restaurant is pronounced "aja aja hwaiting". It is a phrase used to encourage someone to "hang in there" or "never give up". I guess the owners want to convey a message regarding their entrepreneurship effort.

The interior of the restaurant looks pretty refined. The servers are also friendly and cheerful, making our visit quite comforting. When dining a foreign cuisine which you are not familiar with, the last thing you want is to be on the receiving end of angry stares when you violate certain dining etiquette. The atmosphere in Aza Aza Starvil is casual and you definitely will not face such situations.

Each dining table is equipped with a charcoal grill and ventilation duct. You guessed it right, the Korean barbecue (고기구이, gogigui) is available. Besides that, the menu also offers several ready-cooked dishes if you prefer something apart from barbecue.

The first dish that we ordered for dinner is the Aza Aza Special BBQ (고추장삼겹살, RM23.90). Using the heat from glowing charcoal underneath the grill, several slices of marinated pork is slowly cooked to perfection. Halfway through, sliced garlic is added to give the meat a pungent and tantalizing flavor. The staff helps on the grilling process, so feel free to sit back and enjoy the showmanship.
The marinate used for the pork is called gochujang (고추장), a type of traditional Korean condiment made from chili, rice, soybeans and salt. Gochujang tastes savory and moderately spicy, and feels pungent to people who are not used to it. Traditionally, gochujang is fermented for several years in large pots, but nowadays the process is commercialized. Small jars of gochujang can be purchased in certain supermarkets and Korean specialty shops.

A popular way of enjoying Korean barbecue is by wrapping the meat in lettuce, then dipping it in some condiments such as ssamjang (쌈장), which literally means "wrapping paste". Look how intuitive the Koreans are!
Korean barbecue isn't complete without the many side dishes (반찬, banchan) to accompany it. Since this is just a meal for two, it is reasonable that the variety is not as many as other Korean restaurants. The banchan served today are Kimchi (김치), Potato Salad (감자샐러드), Rice Crackers, and Pork Skin (껍데기). Of particular mention is the Pork Skin, which has the texture of soft jelly and is supposedly good for skin complexion.
Besides the barbecue, we also ordered a bowl of Dolsot Bibimbap (돌솥비빔밥, RM13.90). This dish consists of rice, pork pieces, an egg, seaweed and various types of vegetables and is served in a hot stone bowl. The stone bowl actually helps to cook the dish because it is very hot. In particular, the egg is "fried" by contact with the sides of the bowl. To prevent burnt rice, a coating of sesame oil is applied beforehand. This causes the rice at bottom layer to be slightly dried and has a nice crisp to it.
Before eating, some gochujang is added to the bibimbap and the entire dish is stirred thoroughly. This dish is nice especially when eaten while hot. But be wary that the stone bowl can still be quite hot and cause nasty burns!

Since bibimbap is a dry dish, it comes with a bowl of seaweed soup.
For drinks, we had a glass of Signature Mixed Fruit Tea (RM4.90). In my opinion, it is too sweet for my liking.
I think Aza Aza Starvil did not disappoint and deserves another visit, so that we can try other dishes that the restaurant has to offer.

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