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Korean barbecue is proving extremely successful – so much so that there are plans to expand on the concept in Perth. Julie-anne Sprague investigates.

ACCORDING to Arirang Korean Barbecue Restaurant manager Birtan Erkut, barbecue restaurants are the “in-thing” at the moment.

The popularity of the Barrack Street restaurant has prompted him to consider opening several more stores across Perth with plans to expand across to the eastern seaboard.

“At the moment Korean barbecue is huge. It doesn’t exist in Europe so they love it because it is different, the Asians love it, and people from interstate come in and tell us that this would work really well over there,” Mr Erkut said.

“I have been to one in Sydney but it is nothing like what we do here.”

Arirang has purpose-built tables with cook tops that allow customers to cook their own food.

But it is not a matter of reducing wages in the kitchen because if you really don’t want to cook, the chefs are more than happy to do it for you.

“It’s not a sticky or messy barbecue. It’s very clean and you order off a menu and you cook it yourself.  We show you how to do that and the correct way to eat the meals,” Mr Erkut said.

“If you don’t want to cook it then we can do it in the kitchen but most people want to do it. That’s why they like it. It’s a show.”

The restaurant is two-and-a-half years old and its popularity has prompted the Arirang team to set up woks across the town.

“We are putting together a business plan at the moment and we will be talking to stockbrokers to raise some private capital,”  Mr Erkut said.

“We plan to open three shops. We are looking at the moment at some sites. We want to have a store in Fremantle, one in either Mount Lawley or Leederville, and we are tossing up between Subiaco, Claremont, and Applecross. We probably won’t go on the cappuccino strip because the rent is too expensive. People complained about our location in Perth when we were opened, they thought it was a bad spot.

“But it has turned out to be a good decision. It has really surprised me but it has been very popular.”

And the plans do not stop at new restaurant openings. In the future the team hope to develop a dial-a-barbecue home service.

“We get people in all the time that ask, can we rent your table?” Mr Erkut said. “We’re not set up for that at the moment but we are thinking about doing that. We drop off the table and then pick it up the next day.”

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TALK that hip bar and restaurant Box Deli is on the market is not quite on the money according to proprietor and developer of the Box Building site Jean-Mic Perrine.

“We’ve [he and partner Mercedes] had a number of approaches from people interested in it and if the offer was right we’d probably sell it. We did it ourselves because we didn’t trust anyone to do it right in the first instance. We do property really well but we did Box Deli because we enjoy food and wine.”

As for the new proprietors planning on opening up at least two restaurant sites contained in Mr Perrine’s latest venture, the office complex Next, located on the corner of Hay and Milligan Streets Perth, we can expect something classy.

“We have had a lot of offers but we are trying to get the mix right. We want to get someone on that corner site that will build on what Matsuri has done opposite it. It will be pretty sophisticated,” Mr Perrine said.

“The other spot is a fantastic well-known product out of Sydney. They have a modern view of an express coffee place.”

But there are no names yet; Gusto will keep you posted.

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