Tender beef strips barbecued to perfection, sizzling plates piled with seafood, tangy kimchi, crispy mung bean pancakes and plum wine...Korean cuisine is fun, bold and healthy. For a quick, solid lunch, it's hard to beat the mighty bibimbap (sizzling rice, veggies, meat and an egg served in a hot pot). And, when a long, lazy afternoon lies ahead, there's no tastier way to pass the time than at a 'barbecue-it-yourself' buffet with family and friends. These five eateries showcase some of Parramatta's best Korean cooking.
The bright photos of dishes on the front window make Dae Ga difficult to miss. Inside, the feel is industrial, created by grey tiles, silver pipes, chunky wooden tables and bare walls. When the food arrives, it's clear the photos aren't lying. Nearly every item is a vibrant mix of yellows, oranges, reds and greens, from the bibimbap to the beef bulgogi (stir-fried marinated beef with veggies served on an iron plate).
42 George Street Parramatta 2150; Open daily 11:00am - 10:00pm (closed Wednesdays).
Charcoal Mine BBQ House
For anyone who's not eaten since breakfast, Charcoal Mine BBQ House is the remedy. There's only one item on the menu: an all-you-can-eat buffet. Hence, there's no arguing over the order and no going home hungry. Pretty much every meat under the sun is laid out, from ox tongue, beef intestines and liver to pork belly, scotch fillet and baby octopus — and diners get to do the cooking themselves. So, there's no complaining about burning, either. A variety of sauces and an array of sides, including Kim chi, marinated shallots, orange and watermelon, are on-hand, to add flavour and texture.
454 Church Street Parramatta 2150; Open Monday - Tuesday 5:00pm - 9:30pm, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 12:00pm - 3:00pm and 5:00pm - 9:30pm and Friday & Saturday 12:00pm - 3:00pm and 5:00pm - 11:30pm.
Sariwon Korean BBQ
For a straight-forward, good value Korean meal, Sariwon is a reliable option. It's located just around the corner from Parramatta Wharf, which means a post-lunch ferry ride or riverside walk is always tempting. Wooden seating, miniature plant pots and black-and-white art works create a simple, clean feel. The traditional-style mung bean pancake makes for a moreish, light entree, which can be followed by a bibimbap, bulgoki, dumpling soup or a BBQ-stew combination.
11/30 Charles Street Parramatta 2150; Open Monday - Friday 11:30am - 3:00pm and 5:00pm - 10:00pm and Saturday 5:30pm - 10:00pm.
Also found just a stone's throw from Parramatta River is Asadal, where Japanese and Korean cuisines have been meeting since 2009, so diners of diverse tastes can eat together in peace. While some dishes, such as the kimchi pancake, are classic, others offer a bit more of an adventure. The fresh sashimi bibimbap, with salmon, tuna and kingfish, for example, represents a fusion of Japanese and Korean styles. Korean beers, including Hite, Max and Cloud, as well as Korean liquors, including soju, plum wine and bokbunja, are on the menu, too. Minimalist, pale timber tables, overhung by wicker lanterns, provide seating for groups of all sizes.
1/76 Phillip Street Parramatta 2150; Open Monday - Friday 11:30am - 3:00pm and 5:00pm - 10:00pm and Saturday 12:00pm - 3:00pm and 5:00pm - 10:30pm.
BCD Tofu House
For vegetarians, BCD Tofu House is a handy find. Whereas a lot of Korean cuisine tends to be meat-heavy, this cosy eatery puts a strong emphasis on bean curd. There are 13 kinds of soondubu jigae (tofu soup), including Kim chi, mushroom and rich bean paste. But that's not to say carnivores aren't catered to, too. Soups with fish roe, beef tripe and pork are on the list, and legendary in these parts are the succulent, sweet soy, barbecue ribs. BCD Tofu House is in Epping, about ten kilometres northeast of the Parramatta CBD.
10/74 Rawson Street Epping 2121; Open daily 11:30am - 9:30pm.