Reviewing restaurants can mean special treatment, whether you like it or not. My feet are kept firmly planted in the ground by regular lunch forays here. Let’s say I’m not their target market; meaning I’m not Korean; nor do I arrive as a group in one of the white people movers lining Elizabeth Street. They’re here to share large pots of spicy stew, Kimchi Jjigae ($30/2 people). Their van drivers feast behind a wooden screen, sometimes joined by the glamorous proprietress – a slender Korean woman with a bouffant hairdo, neat floral apron, Korean slippers and socks. They find me mildly amusing. I persist for the chance to be the minority, and for the great value healthy lunch. I eat a rice dish called Stone Bowl Beef Bibimbap ($13.50) with generous amounts of gochu-jang (red pepper paste) added table-side. Meals come with an array of free banchan, Korean side dishes that tend towards salted, pickled, fermented and spicy. Here it’s the ubiquitous kimchi (spicy cabbage), mung bean sprout salad, my favourite odaeng (sweet fishcake) and wobbly cubes of nokdumuk (mung bean jelly), useful for soothing burning mouths. I’ve branched out into Seafood Pancake ($11) and Marinated BBQ Pork ($13), but mostly I try not to rock the boat.
421 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 9281 2727