Saturday, 26 July 2014

Red Pepper - Strathfield - Sydney, Australia

Red Pepper

If you've read my last few posts then you may be thinking I'm Korean. As all I seem to posting about lately appears to be Korean related. I think this year, I have eaten more Korean food than I have ever had in my life. I guess you could say I'm trying out new things and being more adventurous. As previously mentioned, I wasn't a very big fan of Korean food but it's starting to grow on me and I'm learning to appreciate it more. I actually have a lot of other restaurants to post about but I think I'll continue with another Korean restaurant that I went to recently that stood out.

Fried chicken, fried chicken and more fried chicken. All I seem to be eating these days is fried chicken. I just can't get enough of this deliciously crunchy chicken that is so satisfying to the soul. That chicken is no other than the Korean fried chicken (KFC).

Red Pepper is a Korean restaurant that sits inside the Strathfield Sports Club. If you haven't seen or read about Red Pepper before then you may be thinking that it is a restaurant that specialises in red pepper dishes or very spicy dishes. Actually it's quite the contrary. What everyone namely comes here for is the Korean fried chicken and many have said it is one of the best. When one mentions that word 'best', then it is a must try.

The drive from the Shire to Strathfield is actually not very far, about a 30 minute drive. On that particular Saturday night that we decided to go, the traffic there was horrendous. We were crawling there and traffic was bumper to bumper. It ended up taking close to an hour.

What made it worse is that there was no street parking available when we reached and the parking lot connected the club was full with either club patrons or people using the sporting facilities. Finding parking took another 20 minutes or so, and by this time we got a spot, we were tired and hungry. Do note that the parking lot doesn't have many spaces, so street parking may be the better option. Prior to entry, you have to sign into the club.

Red Pepper is tucked at the back of the club with the bar. It isn't very big and more like a bistro opposed to a restaurant. There is a small open window where the staff take orders and then you grab a table number after placing your order. You can also order from your table if you prefer.

There is plenty of seating available but on that night it was full! A mix of diners but mostly Korean friends and families enjoying their food, vouching for authentic Korean cuisine. With no inside seating available we resorted to sitting outside in the cold thanks to my brother. There wasn't much lighting and I didn't really know what part of the chicken I was eating at times, so the photos turned out to be a failure. That was not an eventful first experience but a few weeks later I decided to return not once but twice as the food turned out much better.

If you want to beat the surrounding traffic and the crowds, I recommend going during lunch. There is plenty of street parking available and finding a table is so easy as there aren't many people at that time. Parking on the street is also free on Sunday as it's usually metered.

The main item on the menu is the fried chicken, with or without bones, half or whole and served a number of ways. There is a large variety to choose from and you're spoilt with choice. They do have other traditional Korean dishes but there isn't many compared to what you would find at a regular Korean restaurant. Also, they do offer a number of western dishes.

The hot pot's look so tempting in the menu but we are here for the fried chicken only. That shall be for next time.

Fried chicken is usually served with a side of pickled radish cubes but here it also comes with pickled cabbage as well.

Metal cutlery.

'Original Fried Chicken ($16 half or $30 whole)' is regular chicken coated in a 'premium' light batter. Look at the difference between the half and the whole. There appears to be so much more in the whole chicken plate.

It's done perfectly right here. The chicken pieces are crispy and crunchy without being greasy, and still is light but not dry. Even without sauce it is extremely tasty. I like how the chicken is still juicy Fried chicken at its best! My favourite of the lot.

'Hot & Spicy Chicken ($17 half or $32 whole)' is the original fried chicken coated in a hot and spicy sauce. The sauce is spicy and does burn your lips, even for those highly tolerant to chilli and spice like myself. Chewy rice cakes are added to the plate for presentation and there is even more fresh chilli to give it that extra kick!

The 'Soy Sauce Chicken ($17 half or $32 whole)' is the original fried chicken coated in a garlic and soy sauce combination. The sauce is faint and not as strong as I would have imagined.You would expect it to be salty with the soy sauce but the flavours worked well and I liked how it was subtle. It does however get soggy quickly due to the moisture and sauce, so it has to be eaten hastily.

'Spring Onion Chicken ($17 half or $32 whole)' seems to be a popular choice. The original fried chicken is coated in a wasabi dressing and then topped with a bunch of sliced spring onions. I found the wasabi flavouring to be relatively robust for my taste buds. This is coming from a person who has a very low liking to wasabi and anything wasabi flavour related. The rest of the table enjoyed it. This photo was taken in the dark so please excuse the horrible lighting.

The 'Black Sesame Chicken ($17 half or $32 whole)' is boneless fried chicken made from the drumstick part of the chicken, coated with black sesame seeds. Apparently popular with kids because of the extra crunch factor, it definitely didn't disappoint in terms of taste. We were surprised it was served with sweet chilli and mustard sauce as none of the other ones came with this. It didn't need that extra sauce as it was already flavoursome, leaving it barely touched.

The 'Dolsot-Bimimbap ($15.00)' is a dish that's hard to get wrong as your basically placing assorted items on steamed rice. The version here is made with beef and an assortment of vegetables, topped with a raw egg, in a sizzling stone pot. The chilli sauce can be added accordingly. The sizzling hot pot left a nice crispy rice which I thoroughly enjoyed chomping on.

Another bimimbap that is only available for the lunch, from the specials is 'Nakji Dolsot-Bimimbap ($13.00)'. It is similar to the one mentioned above but instead of beef, it uses octopus. The portion was much smaller in comparison and it might have been because it was a special.

How could I forget the complimentary sides? If I were to come here for anything else other than the fried chicken it would have to be the banchan. It changes on a regular basis but I've liked every single one and I would rate this as one of the best. These were the sides we got over two separate visits and how many sides you get depends on how much you order.

Please note you only get picked radish and cabbage with fried chicken. To get the other banchan, you would have to order something besides the fried chicken from the Korean cuisine menu.

This place isn't flashy nor fancy. It's casual, cheery and has that typical club feel with limited customer service. Food is cheap and if shared among a big group, it works out to be even cheaper. If you're in the area, do give it a try and see what you think. I don't believe it's the best fried chicken out there but it was indeed nearly spot on. Now that the sister restaurant, 'The Sparrow's Mill' is open in the Sydney CBD, serving pretty much the same items as Red Pepper, getting your fried chicken fix couldn't be any easier.

4A Lyons St
Strathfield NSW 2135

Phone no: 02 9701 0911

Opening Hours
Refer to website


Red Pepper club on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Hadongkwan (하동관) - Myeongdong - Seoul, South Korea.

Hadongkwan (하동관)

It's been 5 months since we went overseas to Seoul, Korea and I can't believe how fast time has gone by this year. I do miss the country but I definitely don't miss the cold weather. This is the final post of what we ate in Korea prior to hopping on the plane and departing for good old Sydney.

On our last day in Seoul we had the chance to have breakfast before heading off to the airport for an afternoon flight. One place that stood out was a traditional restaurant called Hadongkwan. It's been mentioned and recommended in a number of guide books and if you type it in Google there will be pages of results. It's that popular. Most eateries are closed in the early morning but this restaurant opens at 7:30am, catering for those wanting to have breakfast early.

Hadongkwan is located on one of the busy streets in Myeongdong, so it's relatively easy to find and navigate to. They have been in operation for over 70 years with a long history behind their success, making them well known among the locals. They are famous for their 'Beef Stew (Gomtang)', made with natural ingredients and no artificial flavours. You can choose to have the regular Gomtang or the special Gomtang which comes with tripe.

They've kept to their roots and it's simple looking inside.  It let's off that homey feel, though the room is dimly lit.

We have the 'Gomtang (10,000 KRW)' without the addition of tripe, served in a brass bowl. Very odd but hey it's different. The dish is actually dull looking without the addition of the condiments but it packs a whole lot of flavour. There are essentially three components which make up this dish including the soup, rice and beef slices. It's basically a beef soup with rice and reminds me of the Teochew congee.

The homemade broth is thin and watery, but indeed rich in flavour and clear of any unpleasant fattiness and odours. I found it to be quite bland but adding a bit of salt to season solved that problem. The beef slices were amazingly tender. I quite enjoyed the dish.

On each table there is big bowl of chopped spring onions and salt which is self-serve. You can add to your heart's content.

Then the mandatory kimchi is served.

Barely tea is also served to cleanse the palate.

Gomtang is great for those who want to have a light meal as it's not very filling.  I do recommend going early before the lunch time rush as it gets extremely busy but the turnover is very fast as diners usually eat and leave straight after. They usually sell out before their closing time of 4:30pm.

Annyong Hee Kye Seyo Korea! Till next time :)

10-4 Myeong-dong 1-ga, 
Jung-gu, 100-021

Phone no: +82 2 776 5656

Opening Hours
7:00am - 4:30pm
Closed 1st and 3rd Sundays


Saturday, 5 July 2014

NaruOne Korean Restaurant - Sydney CBD - Sydney, Australia.

NaruOne Korean Restaurant 

NaruOne Korean Restaurant has been said by many to be the place that serves one of the best Korean fried chicken in Sydney. That only meant one thing, I had to try  it.

Located in what is known as Korea town in Sydney, this restaurant is hidden away on the lowest floor of a building on busy Pitt Street. Though visible to the eye on street level, a blink and you might miss it.

Down the set of stairs and there is the restaurant.

The pictures outside the restaurant just looked mouthwatering and from that, I wanted to try everything.

The restaurant feels cosy and lively with minimal decor and bright lighting.

This place has always been on my list of eats but we never found the right time to come here. That dragged on for a year or so and eventually we made it last month. I was able to try out their famous fried chicken not once but twice within a span of a few weeks.

We came on a Friday night on both occasions for dinner. One thing that differed greatly between visits was the waiting time. The first time we were here we came at 6pm and didn't have to wait, as there were many vacant tables at that time. The second time at 6:30pm and it was a full house with a queue to follow. We had to get a ticket and wait for around 30 minutes or so. So do get in early as they don't take bookings and tables fill up fast.

These colder months are making me crave for this delectable fried chicken which won't be too good for the waistline but as one might say, oh wells.

On our first visit, we had boneless chicken and on the second visit we had chicken with bones. The latter being my personal preference as things tend to taste better with bones.

The original 'Fried Chicken ($33.00)' has bones and eating it can be a messy experience but hey, everyone else there is using their fingers to eat the chicken. A whole plate of crunchy, crispy and golden fried chicken.

The coating they use is very similar to the KFC hot and spicy chicken with the exception of the spiciness. It's thin and lightly seasoned but packed with a whole lot of crunch. The chicken is juicy and isn't too greasy on the fingers. You can't stop at one as it's that tasty.

The 'Half and Half Boneless Fried Chicken Gangjung and Boneless Fried Chicken Gangjung with Sweet and Spicy Sauce ($35.00)' is for those who don't want to get their hands messy. There is a whole lot more flour to chicken ratio compared to the regular fried chicken but it's still very much the same.

The sweet and spicy sauce isn't very spicy and scales more towards sweet. I do, however prefer the original as the over load of sauce makes the chicken go soft if you leave it sitting for too long.

It's best eaten with the picked radish, cucumber and carrot.

I've found that the Korean fried chicken in Sydney is different to what I've had in Korea. In Korea, the chicken is coated in a different batter and fried using a process called 'double frying' as mentioned in my previous posts. I'm not sure whether they use this process here but the chicken though different tasting, is still amazing.

The best part about dining at a Korean restaurant is the Banchan. The side dishes that are served here are the best I've tried so far. I really liked the fish cake pieces and the spicy kimchi.

The 'Seafood and Leek Pancake' was huge. Placed on an extra large plate, this thin and slightly crispy pancake was pretty flavoursome. It's filled with a lot of leeks and assorted seafood. It did get soft and chewy very quickly though.

'Bimimbap ($14.00)' is a signature Korean dish and is basically mixed rice, vegetables and meat of some sort in a hot stone bowl. The version here consists of rice, mushroom, bean sprouts, cucumber, carrots and an raw egg. This is all mixed together over a sizzling stone pot and the end result is yummy mixed rice. I didn't like the big heads on the bean sprouts as it gave it a weird taste, so I didn't have much of this but the others enjoyed it.

The chilli pepper paste is served on the side if you prefer it not to be mixed in.

The 'Ginseng Chicken Soup ($13.00)' was unfortunately a let down. We chose the half chicken and thankfully we did as it was not like the one I had in Korea. The one here used the regular sized chicken. It didn't look like the picture and didn't have the taste of ginseng. It tasted more like a normal chicken soup. It's usually served with rice stuffed in the chicken but we requested for it to be served separately.

The 'Korean Tap Beer 300cc ($5.00)' is a local beer made in Korea. All beer tastes the same to me...

Although many reviews have stated that the food here is mediocre, menu over priced and  service is bad, we didn't experience any of this both times we were here. As we were sharing, we found the prices to be quite reasonable. Service wise, it isn't the best but they weren't rude and food was brought to us quickly and anything that we requested for was attended to immediately. Most of the items we had were delicious and I would definitely come back again when craving for authentic Korean dishes, specially the fried chicken.

Korean fried chicken restaurants have started to pop up around Sydney as it becomes more popular with the locals such as the neighbouring Sparrow's Mill and the upcoming Mad Fo'Chicks in Chinatown. The question of which fried chicken reigns supreme is debatable.

375 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000

Phone no: 02 9261 2680

Opening Hours
Open 7 Days a Week
Sunday to Monday: 11:00am - 10:00pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 11:00am - 3:00am


NaruOne Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon