While Korean and Australian culture may seem worlds apart, if there’s one thing we have in common (besides Gangnam style—dear God we’re glad that phase is over) it’s BBQ. So it’s no wonder why Korean BBQ has become our go-to solution for when we’ve got a big group but want to keep things affordable.
Now fair warning, you’ll probably leave smelling like the restaurant due to the billowing smoke from the grills, but considering all the delicious sharing options, marinated meats and banchan (free side dishes) on offer, we’d say it’s well worth it.
Here’s our list of the best Korean BBQ restaurants in Sydney if you’re after a bit of Seoul food.
Just watching the staff run around at 678 like little energiser bunnies will have you out of breath. However all this rushing about is to cater for the mega feast you’re about to enjoy. Top picks for the grill include the pork belly and marinated short rib which goes perfectly with the banchan that lands on your table quicker than you can order a bottle of soju. For those that love heat, their kimchi is calling your name and comes with a delightful umami punch.
An Eastwood institution; the tables are long at Jonga Jip so you can invite the whole tribe for dinner. And big groups are best considering the size of the mixed barbecue meat platter that offers four cuts of meat for the grill. If cook-it-yourself is not your thing, then the al a carte options are sure to satisfy. Order up the crispy seafood pancake and Bo Ssam (pork belly with various sides) and just wait for the resulting food coma.
Not one of those places you just stumble upon, tucked away in an alleyway just off of Pitt Street, Sydney Madang has long been a hidden secret held by only those in the know. But hey, it’s time to lift the lid because the Korean food at this eatery is just too good not to share. The Japchae (a Korean kind of stir-fry) and spicy pork and tofu hot pot are instant heart-warmers and will have you coming back on the reg.
Dae Jang Kum Korean BBQ Restaurant
Helpfully abbreviated to DJK, this Campsie restaurant offers a little buffet twist on Korean BBQ. At $32 per person, it’s fantastic value for money considering that the spread extends all the way down one side of the restaurant. And if that wasn’t enough Korean delight for you, you can also order off the menu with over 150 meals to choose from. Hot tip: bring your stretchy pants cause you’re really gonna want to let loose at this place.
Se Jong Korean BBQ Buffet
It seems Campsie residents truly believe that variety is the spice of life with Se Jong being another buffet-take on Korean BBQ. The buffet selection (which also includes seafood) features both raw and pre-cooked options so you can still munch away while you wait for that pork belly to caramelise nicely on the grill. While it’s probably more than likely that some of the offerings may seem unfamiliar to you, rest assured that the staff are extremely friendly and can help translate should you feel lost.
Another laneway gem, Danjee in the CBD offers more of an up-market dining experience. All your Korean favourites are available, just with a little elegant flare. The classic bibimbap comes highly recommended as well as the stir friend spicy squid for those who like it hot. But don’t worry, if what you really want is to get your hands dirty, you can still opt for the DIY BBQ. Wash it all down with a craft beer and you’ll be as cheerful as a laughing Buddha.
O Bal Tan
Another one you’ve got to know in order to find, O Bal Tan is well worth the hunt. The hanging steel exhaust tubes should be your first signal that the Korean BBQ at this CBD restaurant is no joke, that and the hoards of people there on a Saturday night. You’ll have your choice of meat as per usual but we also think you should opt for the handmade dumplings and salads to ward off those meat sweats.
Still keen for more Korean? Check out our list of Sydney's best Korean fried chicken restaurants here.
Image credit: Thomas Sauzedde
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