Deep-fried chicken in sweet and spicy sauce $17.99 (normally $28)
KFC is set for world domination. Long live KFC!
No we're not talking about the Colonel and his seven secret spices, but Korean Fried Chicken and boy, are we talking!
Panchan side dishes
Figuro can't wait to show us his latest find - a hole-in-the-wall eatery that serves "fried chicken to die for!!" Like the jolly Pied Piper he leads us down one of the tiny alleys that run off George Street, opposite the cinemas.
Dashi is a low-key no-frills eatery with a design mantra that follows function rather than form. There's only one table of Korean students dining, and once they leave we have the place to ourselves.
An assortment of panchan Korean side dishes keeps us occupied whilst our order is prepared. Various morsels of pickled vegetables and the obligatory spicy kimchee whet our appetites.
Mak ku le Korean fermented rice wine
The Bearded One, who has visited Korea before, insists we share a bottle of mak ku le, the traditional Korean wine made from fermented rice. It's a home brew, we're told, as if the bulging re-used milk carton wasn't proof enough.
The milky liquid is dispensed into squat wide-mouthed silver drinking cups, the liquid pouring freely like soy milk, but the smell more reminiscent of rotten old potatoes.
It tastes much like it too. The initial whisper of sweetness is followed through with a left hook of mouldy starch and an uppercut of fermented yeast. It tastes so wrong, a rough and ready Asian moonshine, and yet it's somehow addictive, furtive sips between each dish reiterating the fact that no, I do no like this stuff, but hang on, let me check again...
Shallot pancake $12.00
We try two different types of Korean pancake: the shallot pancake has a lacy pattern of golden brown, layered generously with long stems of garlic chives.
Kimchi and shallot pancake $12.00
The kimchi and shallot pancake has a fair portion of kimchi, but I find this just makes the pancake thick and stodgy, without the benefit of heat.
Pan-fried dumplings $8.00
We continue with pan-fried dumplings, crisp moon-shaped pockets that house a surprisingly lively combination of fresh pork and cabbage, the filling light and tasty.
Deep-fried chicken $14.99 (normally $25)
Finally our first serving of deep-fried chicken. The secret to Korean Fried Chicken, they say, is the double fry method. The chicken is lightly dusted with flour (potato starch or corn starch) then fried for ten minutes at a moderate heat, removed for two minutes and allowed to cool slightly, then fried for another ten minutes for maximum crunch.
And oh, what a crunch. The chicken skin shatters with an amplified crunch. Rendered of fat, the paper-thin shard has an exquisite brittle quality that reminds one of pork crackling, even the taste.
A shallot saucer of salt and pepper provides a seasoning boost. The mini drumsticks are moist and juicy, although my weakness has always been for the crispy mid-wing.
Jok bal pork hock steamed in ginseng and herbs $22.00
Our feast for eight continues with an enormous platter of jok bal or pork hock slices. Steamed with ginseng and herbs, this traditional Korean dish arrives with assorted condiments with which we make parcels, the compressed disc of pork meat, skin and fat, rolled up in lettuce and garnished with garlic, chilli and kochujang chilli paste.
After another ten minutes, even more chicken. We're clutching our bellies at this point, but the glistening platter of deep-fried chicken in sweet and spicy sauce [top pic] must be sampled. I find the sauce a little too cloyingly sweet, especially as there's just so much of it, each piece of chicken drenched in the shiny laquer that is sweet and sour and a little bit hot. It's only half-way through the dish that Figuro remembers that he usually has this dish with the sauce on the side. On the side! Ahhh... that would make everything different!
But it still wouldn't change the size of our stomachs. We've ordered far too much and eaten more than we ever should have. Maybe next time we'll learn. Huh. I doubt it.
Dashi Korean Cafe and Restaurant (CLOSED)
(perpendicular to George and Pitt Streets,
one block south of Bathurst Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9266 0100 / 9266 0300
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Korean--Dae Jang Kum
Korean--Nagoya Japanese BBQ
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5/19/2008 11:16:00 pm