Crispy fried chicken, sizzling meats on the grill, funky fermented flavours – there's a lot to love about Korean cuisine. Sink your teeth into it at these Sydney restaurants.
Jung Sung is contemporary Korean inspired by restaurants serving up the delightful fare found in New York or San Francisco. Set on the rooftop level of the Old Rum Store in Kensington Street, there’s a former Michelin-starred chef in the kitchen creating seasonal degustation menus with items like Berkshire pork with brussel sprout kimchi and Moreton Bay bug served two ways alongside a gochujang aioli. The flavours are sophisticated yet retain the funky fermented goodness Korean food is famous for.
Where: Surry Hills
Sang is all about simplicity. A tiny restaurant and bar in Surry Hills, it aims to give Sydneysiders a different interpretation of Korean cuisine, taking traditional recipes and refining them. Everything from the dining room itself to the cutlery and plating is simple yet stunning. Sang is a family-run affair and you’ll be made to feel like one of the clan as soon as you sit down.
The Korean word ‘jan-chi’ means a banquet enjoyed with family and friends, and that’s exactly what you can expect here. Wagyu, beef short rib, pork ribs, pork belly, lamb loin chop, marinated chicken and scallops are presented raw for you to grill on the traditional Korean barbecue. The sides are just as good: kimchi, shallot salad, corn cheese, radish wraps and seaweed rice balls.
There are more than 1,000 NeNe Chicken stores in South Korea. They brought their beloved recipes to Australia in 2016 and have since expanded across the country, with four stores in Sydney alone. Crisp batter, saucy sauces and authentic Korean flavours (like bulgogi or snowing cheese) make it some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever eat.
Banchan are delicious side dishes served with rice and an essential part of any Korean meal. Myeong Dong makes some of the best banchan in the business. There will be more than a dozen on the menu at a time and they rotate regularly, but expect things like radish kimchi, simmered lotus roots, mung bean jelly, soy bean sprout, fish cake slices and more. It’s cheap and cheerful eating you'll keep coming back for.
The first Arisun restaurant opened in Belmore in 1991, making them one of the pioneers of Korean cuisine in Sydney. It now sits in the heart of Chinatown, serving up legendary fried chicken, smoked grilled meats and black bean noodles. It’s a favourite of celebrity chefs Matt Moran and Dan Hong and there’s often a line out the door on Friday and Saturday nights.
Classic Korean barbecue, but in a fine dining setting... that is the concept behind Woo Wol, a new omakase-inspired restaurant located among the hustle and bustle of Chippendale's Kensington Street. The barbecue selection ranges from Wagyu (short rib, oyster blade, ox tongue), pork (belly, jowl, loin) and lamb (cutlets) to seafood cuts, while the more casual lunchtime menu includes snacks like fried dumplings, bibimbap, and sweet and sour pork, as well as Japanese-style bento boxes brimming with spicy squid, katsu chicken and sashimi.
Found in Haymarket’s bustling Market City, generous portions and an ever-changing menu of side dishes (meaning you can try something new each time you visit) make KOGI a standout Korean barbecue option. That and its fascinating history: Donald Bae, the founder, was the first person to bring the concept of Korean barbecue to Australia in 1992. Highlight dishes include marinated beef ribs, spicy pork bulgogi, topokki and the seafood pancake.