Monday, 21 July 2014

678 Korean BBQ, Haymarket - Sydney

Do you know what's good for this weather?
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Korean BBQ feast

Korean BBQ. Oh no, wait, scratch that, Korean BBQ is good for all kind of weather.

678 Korean BBQ is one among the million options in Sydney, and often said to be one of the better, if not the bests. It is owned by Kang Ho Dong, whose cut-out figurine will welcome you at the entry, a South Korean comedian and ex-wrestler.

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Kang Ho Dong (owner) cut-out

The venue is capacious, dominated with wooden and warm colours, giving you a pleasant and comforting vibe in an instant. What caught my eyes quickly was the wall full of photographs and autographs of famous Korean actors/actresses, musicians, and celebrities.

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Interior

And apparently Running Man casts went here when they came to Sydney a few months ago. I will sound really biased here, but if it's good enough for them hilarious members, it's good enough for me.

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Running Man casts' autographs

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I have been here two times. The first time was with the Koreans celebrating the end of semester, and none of them shared the same idea of mine to get the charcoal BBQ. Losing votes, I had to go with their favourites. And I didn't regret one single thing.

The boys went straight to soju (Korean vodka; about $10 a bottle) ordering, but I was more interested in the banchan (side dishes) spread. From addictive fried little fish (ikan bilis/teri?) to the obligatory kimchi; all was there. They even gave dried seaweed sheets (nori) which is perfect with rice and a light dip into the soy sauce.

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Banchan (side dishes)

Two portable mini stoves were brought out to our table; one was for the bright-red spicy chilli pork (dwaeji bulgogi/돼지불고기). It was meant to be mixed together with the veggies and mushrooms atop, but be careful not to overcook the meat as it is cooked already. We were lucky to have someone with a culinary background (not me) among us, every slice turned out juicy and tender. The flavours were bursting too, although it didn't have strong jabs of chilli like I expected.

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Spicy chilli pork (min. 2 people) - $13

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Under the colossal mountain of shredded shallots, there were some slices of soy marinated beef scotch fillet somewhere. It was the shallot bulgogi, came with another mini stove and a grill-slash-pot filled with sweet, warm broth.

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Shallot bulgogi (soy marinated beef scotch fillet - lunch special) - $16

On the plate were also mushrooms and sweet potato noodles, and we put them all into the pot. The result was more than belly-warming, it touched our souls with great depth of sweet and savoury notes from the broth, tender beef slices, and slippery mushrooms and sweet potato noodles. A superb dish to have while watching strong winds swaying the branches from the window.

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Cooking the shallot bulgogi

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Two days later, still with the same chilly winds, a friend and I went back for the charcoal BBQ. This time, the banchan dishes were different, with some additions of pickled radish with gochujang sauce, sweet steamed potato, soy sauce with chilli, chilli-soy bean paste, and a small bowl of steamed egg. The latest was a surprise, at first I thought they gave the wrong dish to the wrong table. Turned out it was included in the BBQ set. It didn't have much flavour but sure was smooth and definitely warmed out throats.Plus, I love everything with eggs.

And don't forget the leaves. From perilla to lettuce, even raw green chillies and capsicum; they covered it.

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Banchan, steamed egg, and leaves for charcoal BBQ

We didn't tried many meat dishes but we made sure a plate of pork belly went to our table. Apparently it was different cut from the thin slices of pork belly I usually encounter (samgyeopsal/삼겹살), as this one had more fat and was called ogyeopsal (오겹살). The two slices were thick and it took a while to cook it through. Although it was tender with melting ribbons of fat, I still prefer the thinner version.

The boneless marinated beef short rib (yangnyeomso kalbisal/양념 소 갈비살) was faultless. We cooked it until it had pink centre and every cut tasted divine. Especially wrapped together in perilla leave with some rice, kimchi, pickled radish, onion, chilli paste, and grilled green chilli.

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Top - bottom: pork belly ($19) and wagyu 6+ marinated boneless beef short rib ($21)

We only ordered two meat dishes but man it was full-on. Note the presence of onion in sweet soy-sauce-like sauce which I couldn't have enough of and clear cold soup.

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Charcoal BBQ spread

Their soy bean paste soup (doenjang jjigae/된장 찌개) was not earth-stopping but it had the all flavours it needed. On both occasions, it arrived piping hot and if you dig into the stone bowl you will find a half of crab with its sweet meat intact. I had fun slurping it out.

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Soy bean paste soup - $12

I am planning to try the other meat dishes next time. With these freezing days, I foresee many Korean BBQ cravings in the near future.

If you have your own favourite Korean BBQ places, throw them out to me! Would love to try the recommended ones. Cheers!

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Currency: $1 = IDR 11,000


Rating: 4/5 (Recommended)
Great dishes with reasonable prices, charcoal BBQ is satisfying, especially with the countless banchan, service may not be too attentive but is quick, ambiance is nice and comfy.








Address:

678 KOREAN BBQ

1/ 396 Pitt St 
Haymarket, NSW 2000

Phone: (02) 9267 7334

Facebook: 678 Korean BBQ Sydney

678 Korean Bbq on Urbanspoon


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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gumshara Ramen, Chinatown - Sydney

All I can think is ramen now.
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Garlic tonkotsu ramen from Gumshara

In winter, it's my ultimate comfort food. Sure, I love laksa, hot pot, and many other warming dishes, but ramen always makes my knees go weak.

And if we're speaking about ramen, Gumshara is always the first thing that pop up into my mind. The shop in the corner of Eating World food court may look little, but it has big circle of fans and ramen enthusiasts alike. And I gotta say, love their huge menu banner with awesome pics.

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The counter and menu

It seems like I am not the only one to thinks about Gumshara fondly, as the joint won Sydney Food Bloggers Choice Awards 2013. Totes deserves it.

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Food bloggers 'Favourite Ramen' award

The ordering system is non-fussy, as always. Pick your winter warmer of the day, pay, wait until your number is called, and help yourself for cutleries and condiments (pickled ginger, pickled garlic, chilli oil) and sauces to your heart's content.

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Condiments

I've blogged about Gumshara's spare rib ramen before (which is all kinds of amazing), and since then the garlic tonkotsu ramen has also joined my list of favourites.

The soup thickness is described as medium, which is perfect for those who does not really fancy their gravy-like tonkotsu soup. It is still full of collagen goodness though, and will never leave your taste buds craving for more flavour. Because all the important flavours and more are already there in every sip. I always love garlic in my food, so it's no surprise that the lashings of black garlic oil and fragrant fried chopped garlic increase my love for this one.

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Garlic tonkotsu ramen - $11.5 (with the addition of egg $1.5)

I'd like to describe Gumshara's bowl of ramen as a bowl of love. It's warm, seductive, and always ready to embrace you with affectionate hugs. The strands of noodles are cooked to perfection; still having the bite whilst not being too hard or soggy.

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The strands of noodles

The melting and heart-stopping slices of chashu (pork belly) have just the right amount of fat, they are so tender and succulent. The egg requires no description; the picture will speak for itself. Although in fact, the halved egg tastes even prettier than they look.

Other toppings of bamboo shoots, chopped shallots and nori have also never been forgotten.

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Egg porn!

What's there on the right hand side corner, you ask?

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It's a plate of five gyoza, containing well-seasoned minced pork with a little bit of the juice. Five pieces were gone in a flash. And I wasn't even sharing.

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Gyoza - $5.5

Now, only because the special rice has rice instead of the springy noodles, it does not mean that it is less superior.

If you are a visual person, believe me, this bowl will satisfy every part of your eyes and your soul.

The set consists of two bowls: one of the rice and all the heavenly toppings and one for the piping hot tonkotsu soup with all of its glorious thick and flavorsome virtuousness.

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Special rice set - $9

It is a filling meal, I'm telling you. And I'm even not a light eater (which you may have figured that out already). All for less than $10, I say this is a wonderful bargain. The topping list includes the same magnificent chashu slices and the sexy egg, along with bamboo shoots, nori, shallots, and pickled mustard.

To my surprise, the warm rice isn't only plain rice. There are at least another egg mixed in, also with shredded pork meat. The bowl is beautiful inside and out.

I am not too sure how to eat it properly, so I tend to just pour all the soup into the rice bowl. Every spoonful is orgasmic, full of rich bursts of flavour with pleasuring bites of the egg and tasty meat.

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Special rice

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More egg porn! Just because.

Gumshara have undoubtedly really, really, good bowls of ramen, but make sure you try the special rice too.

Just promise me you'll try it, OK?

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If you are still quivering under the cold weather and craving for more ramen, check out Amy's post about the battle of ramen!

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Currency: $1 = IDR 11,000


Rating: 5/5 (Must try)
The rating goes up to the max. Gumshara stays strong as my fav ramen in town, with beyond-awesome ramen (and the magical special rice set), quick service, affordable prices. Food court setting may not be preferred by some, but the bowl of ramen makes up for every negative point.







Address:

GUMSHARA RAMEN

Shop 211 25-29 Dixon St 
Haymarket, NSW 2000

Phone: 0410 253 180

Facebook: Gumshara Ramen

Gumshara Ramen on Urbanspoon



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Monday, 14 July 2014

Papi Chulo, Manly - Sydney

Dining with fellow foodies is always fun.
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Papi Chulo's BBQ platter

But include some heavenly brisket in the picture and we're talking really good times here. After a few weeks of organizing, some super duper awesome food bloggers made their way to the famous Papi Chulo, another successful daughter of Merivale. It's located just after the exit of the ferry station, and you just can't miss the stylish exterior.

Originally we started with more than 10 people, so I had to make a lunch booking. It was a bit tricky. Moral of the story is that to make your booking way way ahead. Fortunately, Vanny took the early ferry and managed to secure two tables for 12 - 14 people in no time. I was delightfully surprised, I was expecting queues at such time.

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Papi Chulo's exterior

If you think the view is great, look at the interior of the place. It is arranged in such a casual manner yet still retaining elegant look with some rustic points here and there. The wide window section lights up the whole room and opposes the yellow lightning that bloggers hate to take pictures under.

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Interior

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Open kitchen is available for everyone to peep and watch those ribs making their way to the grill.

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Open kitchen

Two concoctions were ordered that day, and although El Mani had rich and thick flavour of peanut butter and caramel, it was rather too sweet for me. On the other hand, I rooted deeply for my refreshing and tangy Zalamero, a harmonious marriage between mango and passionfruit.

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El Mani (peanut butter, rich caramel, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream) and Zalamero (mango sorbet and fresh passionfruit with coconut milk)

The feast was started with nibbles and bite-sized pieces. Smoked hot wings received so much love from all around the table, specially with such wonderful sauce to dunk the crisp and succulent wings into.

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Smoked hot wings with comeback sauce - $16

Curly fries was accepted with glee, maybe too much glee. The potato was fried into magnificent curls of crunchiness that weren't oily at all. We should've ordered a second serving.

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Curly fries - $9

Here comes the platter that had everyone sit straight up with forks and knives at the ready. Papi Chulo BBQ platter had everything; lamb ribs, pork belly, smoked wagyu brisket, chopped pork, with soft bread, some tomato-based sauce, and a bowl of colorful pickles.

I didn't try the lamb ribs as I usually steer away from anything from and with lamb, but everything else was ace. Chopped pork might be a wee bit too sweet after a few forkfuls, but it was perfect will some fluffy bread roll.

Pork belly was amazingly tender and had satisfying ribbons of fat, but it was the smoked brisket that I would agree to be married with.

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Papi Chulo BBQ platter - $86 (2 - 4 people)

The brisket was extraordinarily tender, it broke apart only with a flick of fork. It was juicy and sufficiently fatty, with smokey perfume and salty rub on top that only made it even better.

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Smoked wagyu brisket (300 gr) - $34

We also get acquainted with to burgers; Papi Chulo burger and smoked wagyu brisket sandwich. The former was good with crispy bacon, perfectly cooked patty, and soft bun, but I still had no problem in sharing it. The later looked better but didn't seem to stand out too much either.

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L - R: Papi Chulo burger (grain fed beef, bacon, american cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, soft bun) $18, smoked wagyu brisket sandwich (spicy celery pickle, caramelized onions, horseradish mayo, fried egg, soft bun) $18

My suggestion to get some kind of vegetables was refused strongly (yes, I am looking at you, Isaac), and now I regret not getting the cheesy roasted cauliflower.

What we all have in mind, though, was to get all of the dessert options. One of each, please!

The pear and rhubarb cobbler managed to be the favourites from most foodies in attendance, as not only it was pretty, it was warm and creamy, with hints of citrus and ginger.

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Pear and rhubarb cobbler, ginger crumble, crème anglaise, orange and ginger ice cream - $14

Banana split covered everything you want and more, especially with that smooth peanut butter ice cream and crunchy crushed peanut praline.

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Banana split (banana, chocolate fudge, peanut praline, banana ice cream, peanut butter ice cream, cherry jam, whipped cream, glace cherry) - $14

Sucker for anything that mentions cookie and chocolate, this one reigned supreme in my book. Warm chocolate chip cookie was a huge cookie served on the plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce, and macadamia brittle. I knew I would love this one as soon as I saw the melting chocolate in the cookie.

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Warm chocolate chip cookie, vanilla malt ice-cream, butterscotch sauce, macadamia brittle - $14

Our plates were clean but we continued chatting and laughing like crazy. Sitting so close with the open kitchen gave us the perfect spot to see plates and dishes flying around, and we couldn't help but to develop food-envy for some of them. I continuously reminding myself that next time I am definitely getting the roasted cauliflower.

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Lamb ribs platter?

Two things that are crystal clear since our visit here: the new man-bikini is horrible and the brisket is a must-order.

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Currency: $1 = IDR 11,000


Rating: 4/5 (Recommended)
Two words: beef brisket. Good and attentive service with great view and really nice ambiance. Price is relatively high, and expect tricky bookings and queues at peak meal times.







Address:

PAPI CHULO

22-23 Manly Wharf 
Manly, NSW 2095 

Phone: (02) 9240 3000

Web: Papi Chulo
Facebook: Papi Chulo

Papi Chulo on Urbanspoon


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