If you've never had the need to go to a sports club, I've found the perfect one for you. Head past the tennis courts and soccer fields at Strathfield Sports Club and hook a right into the Red Pepper bistro for, yep, you guessed it, Korean fried chicken.
Strathfield Sports Club bistro
A club bistro might be the last place you'd expect to find good food, but we're in Strathfield, transport hub and home to a Little Korea of restaurants, snack shops and grocery stores. We sign in at the desk (temporary membership is free) and head into the bistro. It's the usual set-up of TV screens, a TAB section off to the side and a bar where you can order and pay for drinks and food.
View of soccer pitch from the bistro
The crowd is a mix of locals, with a significant number of Korean families, couples and groups of friends.
We can see the soccer field from our seats, but on a cold evening like tonight, I know where I'd rather be!
Two pages and 11 kinds of fried chicken
There's a Western menu on the wall (fish and chips, burgers, schnitzels and sandwiches) but everyone in the room seems to be eating from the Korean menu. We're handed a Korean menu that runs through entrees, stir fries, grilled fish, soups and stews before concluding with two pages of fried chicken options - that's 11 kinds of fried chicken!
Banchan complimentary side dishes are included depending on how much you order. We dig into a mix of kimchee, sauteed vegetables, pickles and mung bean sprouts.
Jug of Pure Blonde beer $17
And because fried chicken goes best with beer, we get a jug to share.
Kimchee pancake with mozzarella cheese $13.50
We kick things off with kimchee pancake, not super crispy but it's hot and warming, if a little stodgy.
Sun tofu $13
Spicy soft tofu with seafood and vegetable stew
We also tuck into the spicy soft tofu and seafood stew. There's quite a peppery kick to the soup, and we fish around to find clams and prawns among the soft pillows of fresh tofu.
Bulgogi gangjung $15 half
The fried chicken menu is split into two sections: original and gangjung. Gangjung is described as a Korean rice and peanut cookie that is sweet and crispy, a flavour profile that is then apparently applied to their fried chicken.
The bulgogi gangjung is crusted with a thin but dense batter. The sticky sauce doesn't remind us of bulgogi much - it's more like a sweet soy - but there's a pleasant textural crunch from the crushed peanuts and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
Hot and spicy gangjung $17 half
Spring onion fried chicken $17 half
The original fried chicken version yields more of the rubbly batter we're looking for. The spring onion fried chicken is piled with a mountain of spring onion curls and then drizzled with a wasabi soy dressing. It's my favourite of the night, although I'm particularly partial to this combination as it's also my preferred order at Naruone.
There's a little bit of zing from the wasabi, and the dressing is just enough to moisten the batter without making it soggy.
Original fried chicken $16 half
Premium crispy powder covered original Incredible Chicken Gangjung
Waitstaff had tipped us off that the original fried chicken was the crunchiest, so we place a third order in the name of research. The original fried chicken is unadorned, and I end up dipping my chicken into the remnants of the wasabi soy from the spring onion fried chicken.
The batter here isn't as crunchy as Naruone but what is impressive is the juiciness of the chicken inside. We don't find any dryness in our chicken, although the jumble of pieces does occasionally include a chicken neck which seems a little cheeky.
If juicy fried chicken is your thing, then this is the place for you.
Food bloggers on 702 ABC Weekends with Simon Marnie
Food bloggers chatting live on air with Simon Marnie
And yes, that was me on 702 ABC on Sunday morning chatting with Simon Marnie on the Weekends show. It was great chatting on a panel with fellow food bloggers Lee Tran Lam and Thang Ngo.
We talked about our Mums, given it was Mothers Day. Thang said he remembers his Mum's cheesy pizza the most, I talked about my Mum's steamed fish with ginger and shallots and Lee Tran piqued everyone's curiosity with talk of her Mum's grilled sugar sandwiches on white bread. I'm totally trying that one, pronto!
Simon had also set us the task of uncovered the best feed for lunch for under $7.50. Thang suggested Vietnamese banh mi thit pork rolls, Lee Tran recommended the cheese and tomato pizza slices from Bourke Street Bakery, and I spruiked the wonders of Asian grocery stores. I found a pork and salted egg sticky rice for $2.80 and nabbed a cocktail bun for $1 from an Asian bakery. That's $3.80 for lunch with dessert - although you will need a microwave to heat the sticky rice.
Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the radio announcer's desk
A fun morning talking about my favourite topic, and I even managed to sneak in a few mentions of fried chicken! Mission complete!
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Red Pepper at Strathfield Sports Club
4a Lyons Street, Strathfield, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9701 0911
Bistro opening hours:
7 days 11am til late
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5/13/2013 02:08:00 am