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Friday, March 13, 2009

Arisun, Haymarket Chinatown

Grilled sausage $12

Now I don't mind a hot dog every now and then. There's a bit of guilty childlike pleasure in that fluoro red skin, bouncy fatty "meat and squiggles of tomato sauce and mustard, all encased in a soft squishy bun.

Frankfurters belong in buns don't they? It's like their natural housing. Even the Chinese bakeries wrap their frankfurts in sweet baked bread or steamed mantou bun.

Perhaps that's why I find the picture of a sausage and vegetable saute on the menu at Arisun so incomprehensible. Discs of frankfurter cascade over a mountain of stir-fried carrot, cabbage, celery and onion. And it costs $27.

Then there's the sizzling sausage on a hot plate. Also $27. Or sizzling sausage on a hot plate with cheese. $28.

The G-man really wants the cheese version but after coordinating our table of dishes, we agree on the grilled sausage. Three frankfurters for $12.

Would you believe they were surprisingly tasty? The frankfurters are scored on an angle, then deep-fried so the exterior crisps, a squiggle of mayonnaise adding extra decadence.

Hand towels

We'd ended up at Arisun on a search for Korean fried chicken. We were devastated when we'd found out that Dashi had closed, and then I'd walked past and noticed the pictures of battered chicken. Dinner venue instantly decided.

Arisun is on the northern strip of Dixon Street, on the far end of the block that houses the new Mandarin Club. There are a heap of students here most nights, and the menu, we soon discover, is a Korean take on Chinese food.

But first, we're impressed by our hand towels which are the fancy grow-your-own type. A little dish arrives with what looks like five large peppermints on it. The waiter adds a tablespoon of water from a pitcher and then whoosh, like Jack and the Beanstalk's magic beans, five little towers climb upwards with enthusiasm. Whilst I'd seen these demonstrated at hospitality convention shows before, it's the first time I've actually had the pleasure of using them in a restaurant. Lots of novelty value.

Kimchee, chilli soy and pickled daikon radish

Chop suey $27

At first believing we were in a Korean restaurant, we'd instantly started searching the menu for jap chae, the potato starch noodle dressed with carrot and black funghi. There are quite a lot of Chinese-style dishes on the menu which adds to our confusion. Unable to find jap chae, we resort to asking the waiter who simply turn the pages of the menu, points to the words "chop suey" and nods in affirmation. "Are you sure this is jap chae?" we ask, and he nods again.

What arrives is sort of like jap chae but not really. There seems to be no end of cabbage which perhaps qualifies it as chop suey, but don't really give justice to the accompanying $27 price tag, given there is no meat nor seafood within the dish.

Korean style seafood pancake $18

Pajeon Korean style seafood pancake looks more familiar. The golden pancake is reasonablly filled with prawns and garlic chives although it's not quite as crispy as I usually prefer.

Fried chicken with hot sauce $30

The finale of our meal is the fried chicken with hot sauce which arrives in a little wicker basket. Nobbly pieces of floured and fried chicken are sweet and sticky with a coating of tangy sauce that isn't as hot as we'd expected. The chicken is tender but it seems to lack a little spice and heat.

As for the frankfurters... the next table's order of sizzing sausage on a hot plate with cheese looked and smelled disturbingly good.

Arisun on Urbanspoon

1 Dixon Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
(near Liverpool Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9264 1588
Open 7 days 10.30am til late
19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/13/2009 01:40:00 am


  • At 3/13/2009 6:11 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, these Koreans must have really taken the Chinese thing to heart, cause their prices are so gougy.

    Being Korean I almost feel that I have to apologise on their behalf.

  • At 3/13/2009 9:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those towels are amazing aren't they. I once bought one as a souvenir which had rainbow NZ sheep on it. I wonder how you compress them like that.

  • At 3/13/2009 1:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Awww should have gone for the chheessseeee! The chhheeeesssssssseee XD

    The fried chicken looks very good mmm but wow where they worth 30 dora :S

  • At 3/13/2009 1:05 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh god, I wonder if there is a specialty Korean Fried Chicken store in Sydney like Bon Chon or Unidentified Flying Chicken in the states that doesn't charge you a wing and a leg for its fried chicken.

    Anyone know if there are decent fried chicken places in the Korean area around Pitt St?

  • At 3/13/2009 3:04 pm, Blogger Y said…

    $27 for franks? Hmm! I share your passion for occasional hotdogs though! :D

  • At 3/13/2009 3:22 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    You should try the Jajangmyun there - it's what most people order when they go to Arisun. That and the mandoo (dumplings)

    I think I was told that the owners are Chinese/Korean, so I guess that's why the menu features more Chinese style dishes and why the Japchae was different. Also, the jajangmyun I mentioned above is the korean version of the Northern Chinese Zah Jiang Mian...

  • At 3/13/2009 3:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    it sounds overpriced. Do you think Veruca would like it?

  • At 3/13/2009 5:56 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Simon - Ahh no need to apologise! There were some interesting dishes - who knew that frankfurters had so much more dinner potential?

    Hi Arwen - Wow, I love the idea of a souvenir towel. I'm not sure how they compress them - I expect something similar to a cryovac or space saver-type contraption?

    Hi FFichiban - The cheese version smelled amazing at the table next to us. The chicken was quite a large portion - we had five people and each had 2-3 pieces I think.

    Hi Anon - I would love to find a dedicated KFC store. We thought we'd found it in Dashi but then it closed :(

    Hi Y - lol. A little piece of me protested at the thought of paying $27 for a dish with frankfurters too! Although as you say, nothing wrong with a good hot dog every now and then.

    Hi Mel - Ooh thanks for the tips. I might have to keep an eye out for those dishes if I head there again :)

    Hi divemummy - Fried chicken is always good but I know that Veruca doesn't like to mix her savouries with her sweets, and Korean food seems to do a bit of both :)

  • At 3/13/2009 6:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, some things are more expensive than I'd expect although it does look good.

  • At 3/13/2009 8:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    There is a place called Pelicana Chicken (Korean site) that is located in Belfield It seems like it's a local franchise but I have an iffy feeling about the place. Not about its food either.

    I've only ever seen the sliding door entrance left open with barely enough room for someone to walk in sideways and I've never seen anyone enter or leave. It kind of has the feeling of a front organisation for some underground group.


  • At 3/14/2009 2:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Woo Arisan
    I probably shouldn't publicly confess that I used to stop by there to get a bucket of takeaway fried chicken... I've got to agree that the spicy one isn't as spicy as it probably should be. Might as well order the soy one.

  • At 3/15/2009 2:46 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Lorraine - It did seem a little pricy at times, but hmm who knew a deep-fried frankfurt would taste so good!

    Hi Simon - Sounds intriguing. Let me know if you venture inside :)

    Hi Yas - I dare not ask whether you ate the whole thing, although having witnessed first hand your healthy appetite, I don't think I need to! I agree, it's a shame the spicy ones don't have more chilli.

  • At 3/15/2009 10:24 am, Blogger K said…

    That sausage looks so good. I love those kinds of franks with the cripy skin. Come back to the North side! There's a Korean fried chicken specialty shop called Hello Kyo Chon in Chatswood, Archer street. Costs a fair bit at $30ish but portions are huge.

  • At 3/16/2009 11:16 am, Blogger susan said…

    I can't believe how expensive some of those dishes are! Hopefully they were worth the price tag.

  • At 3/17/2009 12:36 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi K - Ooh I like the sound of that chicken place! Must check it out!

    Hi Susan - Some dishes did seem a little pricey. I think we were most surprised by the chop suey. Always good to try in the name of research though!

  • At 3/17/2009 11:23 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    there is really yummy Korean fried chicken down the road from where i live in Epping. bit of a treck from the city though, but if you are interested, look for Beschico on Beecroft Rd near the station. $29 will get two of you very very full of fried chicken.

  • At 5/02/2009 4:51 am, Blogger Thomas said…

    Yeah, that Jap-Chae isn't looking too good...
    Arisun's forte is jajangmyun, but don't order Gobbegi(double portion) because most of the Jajangmyun houses use too much oil to make their black bean sauce.

  • At 5/05/2009 10:38 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Rhianna - Ooh thanks for the tip. Will have to remember to check it out sometime. Thanks for letting me know :)

    Hi Thomas - Sounds like you're quite the regular. Will have to remember to order jajangmyun next time I'm there :)

  • At 2/17/2015 6:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    they are many korean restaurant service fried chicken now; naruone, sparrow mills etc but arisun still my favorite...


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