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
We ate at the Haymarket branch of 678 Korean BBQ on a Thursday night after my partner was jealous of me eating Korean BBQ with my colleagues from work the night before.
We thought that it was quite expensive for what you get. The side dishes are quite limited and were never refilled. I have heard that the more money you spend the greater the variety of side dishes but we spent $80 for 2 people and got barely anything.
To add insult to injury, by the time we had arrived they had already run out of many of the beef items.
Overall quite disappointing and I wouldn’t come back of my own accord.
I’ve been trying to go to Danjee since July 2020, when one of my Korean colleagues mentioned it as one of the best Korean places east of Strathfield. It took me until December 2020 to get there, at which point Danjee was still serving its very limited COVID-19 menu.
Danjee’s website would not let us make a booking for lunch as it only allows bookings at least four hours in advance, however when we called they told us that we could just walk in. When we arrived we found only one other group at Danjee during our Saturday lunch sitting – probably a bad performance indicator for the business, and probably due to the confusing text on the website.
Access to Danjee is through a little suspicious-looking alleyway off George St. The dining hall we were led to features normal wooden tables with no evidence of BBQ facilities, though this is meant to be a BBQ restaurant. I later discovered that there are two whole other sections of the restaurant – one indoor and one outdoor – that feature BBQ facilities – that had been closed due to the pandemic.
These were our side dishes. They were all pretty good, but they weren’t refilled at all throughout our meal.
The hot stone bibimbap with beef ($20) was good and fresh, but didn’t really come with much beef. The beef it did come with was in t he form of mince, and easily lost when the dish was all mixed up together.
The Mul Bi-Naeng Myeon (buckwheat noodles with spicy sauce in chilled soup – $18) was alright. This was my partner’s first experience with Korean cold noodles, and she was initially taken aback by the floating pieces of ice, although she eventually grew to like it as the ice mielted I really wished that they would’ve provided some scissors for the noodles – without them this dish was quite difficult to eat. As we were settling our bill our waiter asked for our opinion on this dish. He said that he himself wasn’t a big fan, as he didn’t think that the soup tasted like traditional naengmyeon, and asked us to compare the flavour with that of other restaurants. Not being a huge naengmyeon connoisseur myself I gave some awfully unhelpful but honest advice – I told him that I thought the flavour was fine, but I would’ve loved a bit more meat. He looked taken aback. Evidently two slices of meat is the gold standard.
Danjee’s Korean BBQ offerings are unfortunately all cooked in the main kitchen before being brought out to the dining tables. There is currently no option for at-table cooking for lunch, and in fact we had to pay a premium for chef cooked meat. We had the LA Karubi ($21) and the Pork Belly ($220. Both were fine, though I thought the portions were quite small for the price paid. There was no leaf – lettuce, sesame, or otherwise – that was offered and it really felt like quite a barebones and negative BBQ experience.
VERDICT Danjee bills itself as “Korean Fine Dining”, though I find it hard to appreciate any “fine” elements to it. What I found at Danjee was quite middling food, poor service, and a disappointing stinginess on meaty goods. I would hesitate to come back to Danjee as is.
Danjee 1-7 Albion Pl, Sydney NSW 2000 (02) 8084 9041
After finishing lunch at Danjee at 1PM my friends wanted to go to Bornga that same evening at 8:30PM. I think this was probably my own fault, as I essentially incepted them by telling them I was having Korean that day.
While Danjee bills itself as Korean fine dining, I think Bornga is more suited to hold that title. Bornga’s interior, with its booths, decorations, and BBQ facilities is actually quite nice. We partook in a mixed meal of Korean BBQ and other non-BBQ dishes.
The side dishes were pretty adequate. They were not refilled on their own, rather we had to ask for them to be refilled.
The Japchae (stir fried glass noodles and vegetables – $23) was delicious. It was a nice and warm dish with lots of umami and sesame flavours. I liked how easy to eat and minimally chewy the glass noodles were. I’d get this again.
Bornga’s Bibim Naengmyeon (spicy buckwheat noodles – $17) was the second serving of Korean cold noodles that I had of the day. Compared with Danjee’s this one had far less soup, though I think there was a separate item on the menu with soup to drink. The noodles were much easier to eat, helped by the fact that we were given scissors to cut them up. Eating this dish helped me to realise that I shouldn’t have been so critical of Danjee’s naengmyeon’s minimal serving of meat – two slices is probably the standard. Not bad.
The Yesan tteokgalbi (grilled short rib patties – $23) was a sliced up patty made of marinated beef short rib meat and rice cakes, served with some creamy mayonnaise-like dipping sauce. It was quite good, fatty and moist and juicy, with a sweet flavour to it. It was reminiscent of a fatty and highly minced hamburger patty. Apparently it is rare to find this dish in Sydney, so if you’re at Bornga and there’s room in your tummy it’s worth a try.
The seafood and green onion pancake (haemul pajeon – $25) was the eggiest seafood pancake we’ve ever had. As you can see from the photo almost the entire exterior surface was covered in egg. My colleagues complained that there was not enough seafood within the pancake, however each slice I had did come with some seafood packed inside – not to mention the extra seafood my partner snuck into my bowl (she loves seafood pancake – hates seafood). I would agree, however, that this does not even reach my top five seafood pancakes that I’ve had in Sydney, and would recommend you not get this unless you have a distinct craving for it.
These are salad leaves. I’ve presented a photo of them here to help differentiate against Danjee, who didn’t give us any salad leaves.
Our ex-surgical colleague cut and cooked our Korean BBQ with incredible deftness. We had the wagyu kkot sal (wagyu short rib – $42), Mansinchang Samgyeopsal (marinated pork belly – $24), Woosamgyeop (beef loin – $23) and Samgyeopsal (pork belly -$22). All the meat was of high quality, though a bit expensive. We were keen to order some vegetables to cook on the BBQ as well, but their vegetables were out of stock. The only vegetables we were able to BBQ were two piece of onion, two of pumpkin, and one mushroom with the Bornga logo stamped onto it.
The Bornga Wagyu Bulgogi ($43 – Korean bulgogi hot pot with beef and vegetables) was quite a large servingf and delicious. It was really packed with a lot of greenery, mushrooms, and noodles. One of my colleagues had a lot of this dish.
.VERDICT $265 at Bornga bought more than enough to feed 4 large Asian boys who often get confused for one another and 2 normal sized women, including a bottle of makgoli to share. Bornga’s food is of high quality, reasonably priced and delicious. I can definitely recommend Bornga as the best Korean I’ve had in the Sydney CBD to date. Make sure to book ahead.
Tokki is the second Korean restaurant we’ve eaten at in Surry Hills recently and older sister to Redfern’s generally disappointing Vietnamese eatery Kinhboy.
The vibe at Tokki is quite similar to that at Kinhboy. The interior design is more upclass asnd modern than your regular Asian restaurant, with pink lights providing a neon glow, wide tables, and high ceilings. We are greeted by an Asian woman at front of house, a welcome change from the predominantly Western front of house staff at our recent forays into Asian Fusion dining.
The Menbosha ($15) – DIY prawn yuzu sriracha mayo on brioche – is a fun deep friend entree. The dish consists of deep fried prawn, sriracha mayo, and deep fried pieces of brioche toast. The limited DIY component of the dish description consists mainly of putting the first two components onto the third – less involved than putting together an IKEA flatpack but more involved than if they had just served the toppings on top of the toast, I guess. The prawns were lovely and warm, and the sriracha mayonnaise nice and creamy. The deep fried brioche toast bits had a light taste but you could tell that they are obviously very oily. It’s a rare food that makes me feel actively guilty about my cardiovascular risk with each bite. Delicious though.
I did my mum, dad, and one of my gastroenterology colleagues proud by having the roasted cauliflower ($14) with miso butter glaze and furikake. The cauliflower was perfectly roasted – cooked but still juicy on the inside. The miso butter and furikake added a nice dimension of sweet umami to this share plate. Don’t let this dish’s categorisation under “SMALLS” fool you – this is something that can definitely be shared between three or four people.
The Tokki BBQ Tray ($36) is an assorted mix tray of beef short rib, pork belly, baby pork galbi, and grilled gochujang chicken. It is unfortunately much more expensive than $29 noted in some early reviews of the restaurant and even the $32 listed on Tokki’s own website, however we did not argue this point at the time. The pork ribs were nice, tender and flavourful. The pork belly, similar to what you get in bossam, was light and melted easily in the mouth. The griled gochujang chicken was surprisingly tender and delicious, so much so that my partner enjoyed it much more than she expected. The beef short rib was disappointing and nothing to write home about. Overall a good dish with lots of variety, but a shame about the continual price hikes.
The chilli gochujang korean fried chicken ($26) was a small mountain in size, quite good for the price, especially keeping in mind the location and general vibe of the place. The chicken was good when fresh, however a bit too tasty for my liking. I enjoyed the sides of radish and red cabbage and thought that they provided a good foil to the oversauced chicken, however was disappointed when they weren’t packed into the takeaway box.
Like Kinhboy, Tokki provides an extensive beverage list. My partner enjoyed this sake sake cocktail ($18), and so did I.
It is extremely loud inside Tokki and the venue is not really fit for a first date or any other activity that requires some actual conversation. Aside from this, the food is good and the service from their adequately multicultural cast is as well. I can recommend Tokki but not for your next business lunch.