Korean cuisine not only packs a punch but Korean restaurants in Sydney offer an immense variety of dishes and flavours. Even the popular BBQ restaurants can deliver a real veggie hit. Read on for the best, most authentic Korean cuisine Sydney has to offer:
Jang Tur Charcoal | Canterbury
What you get here is flavour so robust that, at the end of the meal, it seems like chilli and garlic are escaping your pores. The lack of any type of décor is a really good sign here, as you know the focus is totally on the great BBQ.
Diners gather round large metal drums with braziers on the top and order plates of meat: beef ribs, beef tongue, pork slices and the mysteriously titled 'inner part of cow'.
(For the true Jang Tur experience, do as the regulars do and enter from the back entrance near the Aldi carpark, walk down the dimly lit side passage, and open the non-descript door to this smoky, very authentic restaurant.)
Make sure your order the savoury egg pudding. This spicy dish comes bubbling in a hot metal bowl.
Address: 169 Canterbury Road, Canterbury NSW 2193
Ph: 02 9787 4561
Open dinner 7 days
Seoul Hoikwan | BBQ Restaurant
The best thing about this restaurant, located in an old Pizza Hut, is the variety on the menu and the dishes you won't find in most other Korean restaurants. Even though this is a BBQ restaurant diners choose from a wide selection of meats, seafood, salad, and dessert, with lots of options for vegetarians.
The sprout salad is zesty and fresh. The seaweed soup is wholesome and not too salty. The rice cake and fish cake soup has a full tomato flavour and offers a real kick.
When it comes to dessert, there are rice cakes filled with sweet adzuki bean paste as well as ice cream. A must-try is the cinnamon punch that is all the cinnamon flavour you will ever need in one drink. It offers respite for burning mouths.
Address: 37 Punchbowl Road, Belfield NSW 2191
Ph: 02 9642 5295
Open for dinner every night (except Wednesday) 5 pm – 11 pm
Zozo Korean Restaurant | CBD
Zozo is a cool, understated restaurant across the road from the old courthouse in Liverpool Street in Sydney's CBD. It also offers many dishes not found in other Korean restaurants.
An example is the ginseng chicken soup, which is actually spatchcock delivered in a boiling ginseng and garlic broth. The spatchcock is stuffed with rice and chestnuts. Although this is traditionally a summer dish, it is exactly the right thing in the middle of winter when you feel a cold coming on.
There are also the side dishes (panchan) that come with every meal in most Korean restaurants. Panchan can provide a fresh hit of the types of vegetables one may not eat regularly, such as radish and taro. Zozo's panchan include the sharp-tasting kimchi, wakame seaweed and mildly sweet chestnut jelly that will take the edge off the spicier dishes.
Address: 91-95 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9267 8040
Open 7 days for lunch and dinner. Closes 3am.
Red Pepper | Strathfield
One of the more recent trends in Korean restaurants is deep-fried chicken with different flavours. It's a specialty of Red Pepper, which treats you to a great selection of the best flavours. The soy sauce variety seems to have a hint of cardamom. The tangy sweet and sour fried chicken has a dash of cinnamon. The black sesame chicken, with its very fine batter, is also another favourite.
Red Pepper is in the Strathfield Sports Club, which has the feel of an RSL dropped into the middle of Seoul. A cheery restaurant that's well worth a visit.
Address: Strathfield Sports Club, 4a Lyons Street, Strathfield NSW 2135
Ph: 07 9701 0911
Open 7 days for lunch and dinner
House of Pumpkin | Strathfield
Among all the Korean restaurants in Strathfield, whichever you choose, clear the palate after the meal by heading to the House of Pumpkin cafe. Late on a Saturday night, it's full of young Koreans and has the feel of a cool old clubhouse.
Try the shaved ice dessert. The serving for four comes in a large glass jug and contains shaved ice, coconut milk, strawberries, mango slices and kiwi fruit that you mix together for a light and healthy dessert.
They also have what I rate as the best ginger tea in Sydney. It packs a real ginger hit with a sweet syrup to soothe the throat. A great way to digest all the chilli you've consumed and a brilliant antidote if you feel a cold coming on.
Address: 10 Albert Road, Strathfield NSW 2135
Ph: 02 9746 8001
Open 7 days 11 am – 1 am
Tosung Firewood BBQ | Homebush
The specialty here is the lightly smoked duck. The meat becomes especially succulent over the wood coals, while the skin becomes very crisp. The spicy marinated pork belly is very tender and well worth a try.
Traditionally in Korean cuisine you eat your food over a bowl of rice. However at Tosung, in place of the rice, there is fresh cabbage coleslaw that gives amazing contrast to the smokiness of the duck.
The cold panchan are high quality and include fried yam.
Address: 17 – 35 Parramatta Road, Homebush NSW 2140
Ph: 02 8756 5252
Open 7 days for lunch and dinner
Image credit: The Gouda Life