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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hanabi, Sydney

Panchan Korean side dishes

The best part about eating in a Korean restaurant is the assortment of panchan side dishes that will arrive at the start of your meal.

I love wondering what tasty morsels will arrive, this Korean version of amuses bouches to titillate the palate, and then, excitement (and frenzied camera action) ensues as a whole entourage of tiny platters arrive on the table all at one.

There is almost always something I haven't seen or tasted before, and I love to taste each one with measured scrutiny. There is usually something hot and spicy (more often than not, spiced slices of pickled kimchee), a dish or two of something sweeter, and a few that are cool in the mouth to temper any burning tastebuds.

At Hanabi, in Sydney’s bustling CBD, I am particularly enamoured with the salted black beans which are smooth and slippery on the tongue, sweet and starchy within. There are ribbons of hot and spicy zucchini kimchee with spring onion; chunks of milder turnip kimchee; slivers of bamboo shoot dressed with sesame seeds; and a handful of broccoli florets, steamed simply as they are.

I'm a "saver" when it comes to enjoying my food, so I'm quietly distraught when our waiter removes our half-empty dish of salted black beans (my favourite one!) mid-way through our meal. Silently I hope he will return with refills but he doesn't. So instead I turn my attention to our main meals.

chicken teriyaki
Chicken teriyaki $13.00

Chicken teriyaki,trendily presented on a square-ish plate, is predictably sweet but not as dark and sticky as I usually prefer. The chicken is moist and tender though, and the salad is light and refreshing.

BBQ chilli squid with bulgogi $13.00

The barbecue chilli squid arrives on a more familiar hot plate, sizzling and spitting with vengeance and enveloping the table with heady sweet aromas. I love the sauce on this one which is thick and caramelly, and I resort to scraping the remnants down with a spoon into my bowl of formerly pristine white rice.

prawn tempura
Prawn tempura $25.00

The prawn tempura appear a little pricey but this is forgiven with the first tasty bite. The prawns are sweet from the sea and the batter is light and crisp. I crunch everything down my gullet, tails and all.

hanabi interior

Shop 3, 122 Liverpool Street, Sydney
(near corner of Pitt Street, next to Macchiato)

Tel: +61 (02) 9262 7288

Also Hanabi Restaurant at
35 Joseph St Lidcombe, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9646 1412

Other Korean restaurants on GrabYourFork:
Milliore, Haymarket, Chinatown
Se Joung, Campsie
Seoul Ria, Haymarket, Chinatown
11 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 8/12/2006 04:24:00 pm


  • At 8/12/2006 5:44 pm, Blogger LBA said…

    Arghh !!
    I don't even realise i'm hungry, until I read your blog...

    Note to self: must .. eat .. our .. more ... often.

    Nothing I will cook tonight is going to 'cut it' now .. ;)

  • At 8/12/2006 6:57 pm, Blogger duckiekitchen said…

    The more I read your blog, the more I miss Sydney:( Hanabi is one of my fav Korean restaurants along with small one opposite V bar, can't remember the name.

    Both places have good Altang, fish roe spicy soup.

    I really enjoy reading your blog...

  • At 8/12/2006 10:43 pm, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    Hi Helen,

    How's it going? I'm totally suffering from food blogging withdrawal and eating out in general. Should only be a matter of time now before the house gets all set up and then I’ll be back with a vengeance =P meanwhile I still have your blog so that I can live vicariously though you.

  • At 8/13/2006 12:00 am, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    I love all the side dishes at Korean restaurants too. My favourites are kimchi, pickled radish and this squid type thing. I only ever had that once at a restaurant. When I went back again, they didn't have it. I think it was squid but it may be tofu for all I know, served cold with other vegetables. No other Korean restaurants I've been to have had this item.

  • At 8/13/2006 11:01 pm, Blogger papa lazarou said…

    yes, another vote to the little one opposite the V bar... spicy fish roe soup is my fav.. (oh those huge chunks of fish roe!)

    re those starter side dishes.. dont be afraid to ask for refills! i always do, and every place obliges..

  • At 8/14/2006 1:16 pm, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    My mouth is watering just thinking about some really hot kim chee.

  • At 8/14/2006 3:21 pm, Blogger Food For Life said…

    I've eaten at Hanabi (both city and Lidcombe) a couple of times but was not overly impressed by either places. For some great korean sides, you should try Ceci in Strathfield. We go there at least 3 times a month! Korean cuisine is just delicious.

  • At 7/19/2007 8:28 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We love this place! Only we went last night for the first time in a few weeks and it seems to be under entirely new management. Also, the menu has been stripped of all its japanese items. What's happened? It's a totally different restaurant. Good, but not the Hanabi we knew and loved.

  • At 7/19/2007 10:40 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Angela - Don't you hate it when your favourite restaurant changes everything around? I haven't been there in ages. Thanks for letting me know.

  • At 11/13/2007 8:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi Helen, if you walk down further more towards George Street from Hanabi, you will find Heaven & Earth which is just next to Subway. they have grilled chilli squid, pork or beef, you name it. and they also have several authentic Korean dishes. their homemade noodles are quite nice, and my favorite dish is kimchi fried rice. the price is reasonable but the place is quite small though.

    BTW, the Korean restaurant opposite V-bar is called tsu-rak and I think they have closed down the last time I passed through World Square. :(

  • At 11/20/2007 9:22 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Hendra - Ahhh I think I got some takeaway sushi from here once. The dishes sound tasty - I might have to eat in :)


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