Categories
Korean

Yasiktak (Late Night Table) – North Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

Our visit to Yasiktak in North Strathfield’s Bakehouse Quarter really challenged me and my identity as an Asian who enjoys Asian foods. Though lots of money was spent on what was apparently authentic Korean cuisine, nothing we had really hit the spot at all, and in fact their signature dish was actively disliked by all four Asians around the table.

Yasiktak’s signature dish, grilled large intestines ($55), are apparently a traditional Korean dish usually eaten with an alcoholic beverage or two. Presented with a choice of spicy or non spicy and a choice of carbohydrate, we ordered the spicy intestines on fried rice. The intestines had a very strong taste, and were extremely oily and fatty. The internal texture of the intestines did not please the tongue, and they were far too rich, in my opinion, to have more than a couple of. The serving was huge, but so was the price. None of us four Asians liked it enough to have more than a couple of pieces each. There was lots left over that we just didn’t want to eat, and also didn’t want to take home (a rare occurrence).

The Pane Cream Pasta ($29) was a much more normal and palatable dish. It is essentially a semi-sweet, cheesy pasta served inside a big piece of bread, topped with further cheese, prawns, and mushrooms. The sauce coated the pasta strands perfectly, and while very rich the flavour was good. The top piece of bread was buttered and a crispy golden similar to garlic bread, whilst the rest of the loaf was quite boring. Again a very rich and fatty dish, but one of the better ones on Yasitak’s menu.

The Burrata cheese salad ($19), as expected, was a ball of burrata cheese surrounded by some minimally leafy greens and cherry tomatoes. It was quite standard, but still end up being the healthiest, most wholesome, and fresh tasting dish of the night.

VERDICT Unless you’re a big fan of eating large bowel, or if you are Korean and able to appreciate this food more than I am able to I would advise you to skip Yasiktak all together. I think they focus more on drinks than food.

Yasiktak (Late Night Table)
5 George St, North Strathfield NSW 2137
0435 353 128

Categories
Korean

Bibimbar – Chippendale NSW Restaurant Review

My partner and I love us some Korean food, and Chippendale’s recently opened Bibimbar, with its delightful play on play on words, broad menu, and inner city location was just the restaurant we were looking for for a quick but filling lunch.

It’s kind of difficult being in a relationship with someone who has a different taste in Korean fried chicken than your own. Nine times out of ten my partner will want to have sweet and spicy fried chicken (Dakgangjeong – 닭강정), and at restaurants that don’t offer two flavours in one serving that’s normally what we will get. We were glad that while Bibmbar doesn’t offer half and half on their half fried chicken, this choice was in fact available on their Wing Wing ($19) – a serving of twelve pieces of fried chicken wings and drumsticks.

I thought the chicken wings were well fried and flavoured, with the honey garlic wings taking the top spot in my heart. I actually did also enjoy the sweet and spicy fried chicken, more than I expected, and I think this has to do with Bibimbar’s careful attention to detail and making sure that the sauce was not so strong to be overpowering. We did also get a special creamy onion sauce for dipping ($2) though I think it is absolutely not a critical component of the meal and you’re not really missing out on anything without it. The chicken was very good as is.

The last time I had kimbab was probably back in 2003, out of my fourth grade friend Soo Hon Lee’s lunchbox. (This will be an exciting throwback for him if he has a Google alert set up for his name). No disrespect to Soo Hon and Soo Chan’s mother, but Bibimbar’s version of Kimbab (with bulgogi beef) ($14) was both better and more elaborate than what I remember. I really loved the fresh taste of the included vegetables, and the nice crunch in the mouth whilst chewing through them. This extreme freshness complimented the umami flavours of the mayonnaise, egg, and bulgogi beef very well. The ratio of fillings to rice was very good, ensuring entertainment throughout the entire mouthful. The “addicting soy sauce”, as mentioned on the menu, was actually quite a bit different to normal soy sauce, though I don’t know what exactly is in it (perhaps cocaine). I have no real barometer for kimbab except for home cooking for a nine year old’s packed lunch, but I can tell you that this was a good dish.

Jjapaguri, popularised by the Academy Award winning film Parasite, is a usually humble mixture of chapagetti and neoguri noodles – essentially a ramen and udon with spicy and black bean flavours. Bibimbar’s Jjapaguri ($34) is a little less humble – a large 30cm dish of noodles, fried tofu, some kind of fried dough cruller, cabbage, enoki, wood ear fungus, and beef brisket in a black bean sauce that’s cooked on a portable butane stove at the table. It was a really huge and delicious dish, though I’m not too sure what the actual benefit of being cooked at the table was. It was wholesome, hearty, and filling, great value with great flavours. I can really recommend this.

VERDICT
Bibimbar’s wholesome, hearty meals were an absolute delight. I can really recommend them to anyone looking for a reasonably priced and authentic Korean meal.

Bibimbar
69 Abercrombie St, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 8964 0900

Categories
Korean

Hanok Korean BBQ – Wollongong NSW Restaurant Review

The state opening up hospitality and businesses to COVID-19 vaccinated patrons only really makes sense if these venues are doing their due diligence in checking that their patrons are indeed vaccinaed. It always makes me feel uncomfortable a venue, which has reopened under strict legal conditions to minimise the spread and harm of COVID-19 within the community fails to check my vaccine status on entry. It’s not that checking would affect whether or not I myself would be let it, it’s that it introduces the possibility that those dining around me might have slipped in unvaccinated. The imaginary bubble of safety has burst.

Banchan was served with our waitress naming each individual side dish, something I’d not experienced before. Unfortunately no moves were made to refill these, despite them sitting empty for some time.

The marinated beef short rib was rock solid, as were the wagyu intercostals and pork jowl. While I can’t fault the quality of the meat on offer, it was clear looking at the prices that they were charging a bit more than you would expect to pay at the average Korean BBQ restaurant in Sydney.

The steamed egg rated low on my list of previously eaten steamed eggs. I didn’t feel like it was as soft as it could’ve been, but my partner could not pick the difference.

OVERALL VIBE
I think the overall vibe of the place is that the food is fine, but you would expect to either pay less or get more from a comparable restaurant in Sydney. In fact, BBQ Biwon in Strathfield (link will go live in like March 2022, the review is queued) will actually give you your steamed egg on the house if you order enough BBQ. Either way, I’m not pleased about the lack of COVID-19 safety.

Hanok Korean BBQ Wollongong
W119/200 Keira St, Wollongong NSW 2500, Australia
+61 433 962 959

Categories
Japanese Korean

Tomoya – Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

Tucked within one of the entrances to Strathfield Plaza is Tomoya, a Strathfield rendition of the classic Korean-run mixed Japanese and Korean diner. Tomoya follows the widespread tradition of Japanese cuisine served by Korean people, providing authentic East Asian food at a relatively affordable price compared to many fully-Japanese eateries.

We visited at around 2PM on a Monday afternoon, at which point the place was absolutely packed. The two waitstaff rostered to tackle this problem looked like they were completely run off their feet tending to Korean and Chinese aunties and uncles of varying shapes and sizes talking about classic Korean and Chinese auntie and uncle topics – we heard the words “James Ruse” mentioned more than once from a neighbouring table.

It took a while for the extra-busy staff to take our orders, and even longer still for banchan to be served. Looking around the room it seems like they have made a conscious decision to only serve banchan once the food is being served also. This doesn’t make that much sense to me, as it means that we lose out on banchan-eating time whilst waiting for our food.

This Chicken Katsu Dolsot ($19.50) was quality. It was the only Japanese-ish dish that we ordered within our mostly Korean meal, and quite a good one at that. The chicken was moist and tender within its blanket of crumbs, and the dish was just adequately sauced so that every bite had flavour. The bottom of the rice was crispy as expected, and this was overall a well priced and well tasting dish.

I’ve always wanted to try Haemul Sunbudu Jjigae (soft tofu spicy soup with seafood) ($21) but I’ve always avoided it as a kindness to my partner, who doesn’t really like most seafoods. I seized the opportunity today, however, and ordered, knowing that even though she wouldn’t want it she would be happy with her non-seafood based chicken dish. Unfortuantely for me it appears that Tomoya has recently hiked up its prices, with this particular dish previously being sold for a whole $5 cheaper on menus available online. Perhaps it is merely COVID related inflation, but I doubt we will ever see prices come down again.

The soup, to be honest, was really only OK. There was a heavy focus on tofu and octopus legs, with a couple of pipis and mussels thrown in, as well as half a crab. The flavour was quite light – not as spicy or sour as I had expected, and the soup in general felt a bit watery. As this is my first time having this kind of soup I must admit that I don’t have anything to compare this to. What I do know is that I probably won’t be ordering this again from this particular restaurant.

The seafood and shallot pancake ($21) is actually one of the best I’ve had in recent times. There is a distinct seafood scent and flavour that permeates the entire pancake, from the first bite to the last, that is present even in parts of batter with no seafood. The batter itself is extremely crispy on the outside, whilst retaining a degree of softness and palatability on the inside. The shallot is generously distributed, adding a fresh umami flavour to the mostly octopus based seafood. This is a really good quality seafood pancake, but it’s a shame that, similar to the stew, this has also increased in price from its previously advertised price of $18.

VERDICT
Overall I think the food at Tomoya is pretty alright, but the experience is significantly weighed down by how understaffed they are. Recent significant (10-20%) price hikes across the menu are also quite disappointing, and unfortunately take Tomoya outside of that sweet spot in terms of price and quality that Korean-Japanese cuisine can sometimes hit.

4/5 , good variety, good pancake.

Tomoya
Strathfield Plaza, 34/11 The Boulevarde, Strathfield NSW 2135
(02) 9746 8877

Categories
Bakery Café Korean

LAB Bakery – Strathfield NSW Cafe Review

My partner’s recent obsession with bingsu took us to Strathfield’s LAB Bakery for our fourth snowy treat in as many weeks.

Unfortunately LAB Bakery’s freaky looking Oreo Bingsu was the worst that we’ve had in recent memory. Visually it was quite striking, but not in a good way. The dish essentially consists of a bowl of milky shaved ice with layers of oreo crumb and chocolate sauce, topped with an additional layer of the same. Above this there is a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the choice use of mini oreos and chocolate sauce to make a spooky looking face.

Despite its nightmarish appearance, this bingsu’s edibility is its biggest problem. Crumbs of oreo do not, in fact, mix well with milk snow, nor do they mix well with the back of the throat. Each mouthful was like choking on a glass of sandy unmixed Milo, and unlike Milo there was no flavour hit to numb the pain.

As hinted to in their name, LAB Bakery does not only do bingsu, but also does breads. We indulged in two of their cream puffs ($1) each, which were room temperature pastry balls filled with a vanilla custard cream. These are a bit larger than the puffs at Emperor’s Garden, and their filling is cold, not warm. They are tasty and priced at just the right price point for a small afternoon snack.

VERDICT
Do not get LAB’s Oreo Bingsu. Just don’t do it. Get anything but it. Get some of their breads instead.

LAB Bakery
4 The Boulevarde, Strathfield NSW 2135
0450 593 522