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Monday, December 10, 2012

Naruone, Sydney

korean fried chicken at naruone one pitt street sydney

Korean fried chicken. Hello.

Is there a more perfect dish than fried chicken? You say deep-fried poultry. I say protein crunch from the gods. It's no secret that fried chicken and I are mates from way back. Hunting down the best fried chicken in Sydney is a personal quest of mine I take seriously. And often. Which is how I ended up eating fried chicken at Naruone three times over the course of two weeks. Just to make sure.

diners inside naruone one pitt street sydney
Diners inside Naruone

Naruone is easy to miss on the stretch of Pitt Street known as Koreatown. Nestled beneath a hairdresser and next door to a Nepalese restaurant, you'll have to look for the stairs to get into the basement level of this restaurant. Inside it's brightly lit and buzzing with Asian uni students.

banchan at naruone one pitt street sydney
Banchan complimentary side dishes

The pictorial menu makes ordering easy and service is typically fast and furious. "Ready to order?" your waitstaff will ask in greeting, within minutes of you sitting down.

Complimentary dishes of banchan will kickstart your appetite while you wait for your food: pickled bean sprouts, sweet tofu and several variations of kimchi spicy pickled cabbage.

pigs trotters at naruone one pitt street sydney
Mini size steamed pigs trotters $18

Steamed pigs trotters are slightly drier and chewier than we expect, but the marinade is rich with star anise and there's a satisfying textural contrast between meat, tendon and skin.

sizzling stone pot bibimbap at naruone one pitt street sydney
Sizzling stone pot bibimbap $14

We also give the bibimbap a whirl, a rainbow of cooked beef, lettuce, cucumber, carrot and sprouts arranged around a shimmering fried egg.

crispy rice bottom bibimbap at naruone one pitt street sydney
Crispy rice action

It's worth forking out the extra two dollars to get the stone pot version because it means the huddle of rice will crisp up into a golden disc at the bottom. The standard version comes in a normal bowl without the rice crust reward.

Pierce the egg yolk so it spills forth with sunshine, add a dollop of the supplied gochujang sauce and toss everything round until you have "mix mix rice", or bibimbap, its literal translation.

cold buckwheat noodle soup at naruone one pitt street sydney
Cold buckwheat noodle soup $12

On my second visit it's a hot night so the cold buckwheat noodle soup is just the kind of refreshment we're looking for. Cold soup might not sound appealing, but this clear broth is sweet and lightly salted, scattered with a confetti of sesame seeds.

The buckwheat noodles are a little tricky to untangle, particularly because the noodles are cold and stuck together, but they're nutty to taste, and still have some bite.

bulgogi hot pot at naruone one pitt street sydney
Bulgogi hot pot $38 small

The bulgogi hot pot comes on a portable burner, a cauldron of stock brimming with ingredients. It only takes a few minutes for the broth to start boiling furiously, and then it's each person for themself to plunder its depths. The thin sweet slices of marinated beef tend to clump together, but there's plenty of other treats to discover, like enoki mushroom, silky tofu, carrot, garlic chives and fat chewy rods of dduk rice noodles.

cabbage wrap with boiled pork at naruone one pitt street sydney
Napa wraps with boiled pork and kimchi $36

It's a roll-your-own affair with the napa wraps served with boiled pork and kimchi - not hard to manage but a little tricky if there are a number of you and this dish is way down the other end of the table.

Things get a little fancier than your standard bossam affair, with the pork slices heated gently on a steamer at your table. This creates a hot and cold contrast of steaming pork and wilted garlic chives against the cold spiciness of kimchi cabbage, all wrapped up in a crunchy cabbage leaf. It's a fun dish but I prefer the version with raw oysters in the kimchi.

braised beef short rib at naruone one pitt street sydney
Braised beef short rib $19 small

On my third visit we attack the braised beef short rib - cooked but perhaps an hour from fall-off-the bone. What it does bring is plenty of chilli - the double chilli warning on the menu should be heeded with caution. It won't blow your head off immediately, but the cumulative burn effect will be felt once you have a few mouthfuls of beef, vermicelli noodle and spicy lava broth.

dining room at at naruone one pitt street sydney
Naruone dining room

But what about the fried chicken? I hear you ask.

korean fried chicken at naruone one pitt street sydney
Fried chicken and fried chicken with sweet and spicy sauce $33 half & half 


Bring in the choir because this KFC is worth singing about. There are three types of Korean fried chicken: plain fried chicken, with sweet and spicy and sauce, and plain with spring onions. Let's not talk about the boneless version. Any fried chicken worth eating is on the bone, right?

korean fried chicken with sweet and spicy sauce at naruone one pitt street sydney
Fried chicken with sweet and spicy sauce and fried chicken $33 half & half 

If you can't decide, the half-and-half option gives you original ($30) and sweet and spicy ($32) on the same plate for $33. The sweet and spicy seems to vary in its heat factor - on my first visit it was mild and overwhelmingly garlicky; on my second visit the chilli was amped up considerably.

The sauce is sticky and viscous and guaranteed to make a mess of your fingers. Freeze-dried garlic chips for garnish will keep any vampires at bay for at least a week.

korean fried chicken with spring onion at naruone one pitt street sydney
Fried chicken with spring onion $32

The most popular dish on tables around the restaurant is this one - the fried chicken with spring onion provides the crunch of original with a mountain of palate cleansing spring onion, ideal for recovery and renewed appetite.

max draft tap beer at naruone one pitt street sydney
Max draft tap beer $7 for 500ml

Beer is also good for this.

korean fried chicken at naruone one pitt street sydney
Korean fried chicken

And the verdict? The sound of satisfied silence is all the proof you need, punctuated only by the audible crunch of nobbly batter, and maybe a sigh as you meet the juicy flesh underneath.

It's the gravelly batter that makes this so good, and the lack of oily residue is impressive. The chicken stays crunchy until the last piece on the place, whether that takes you three minutes or thirty.

Is this Sydney's best Korean fried chicken? It has the crown. For now.

naruone one pitt street sydney

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NaruOne Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lower Ground, 375 Pitt Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9261 2680

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday 11am-3am
Sunday to Monday 11am-10pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Korean fried chicken - Arisun, Haymarket
Korean fried chicken - Beschico, Epping
Korean fried chicken - Hello! Kyochon, Chatswood
31 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/10/2012 01:28:00 am


  • At 12/10/2012 1:45 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    FRIED CHICKEN!!! SO TASTY OH GOD WHY SO TASTY!! Must eat ALL the fried chicken!

  • At 12/10/2012 6:56 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Wow.. Seems like you have tried almost everything on the menu! The hotpot sounds so comforting along side all the fried chicken!

  • At 12/10/2012 7:18 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    I feel like there should have been a chorus of angels every time I scrolled past a fried chicken photo. It actually is good fried chicken there, especially the one doused in sticky sauce. The sensation of sticky batter all over your teeth is the best!

  • At 12/10/2012 7:20 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    OMG! I've been eyeing this place for a while now. Gonna have to try this joint asap. mmmm I have a soft spot in my heart for finger lickin' fried chicken :)

  • At 12/10/2012 7:29 am, Blogger The Life of Clare said…

    The food looks wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • At 12/10/2012 7:31 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    I couldn't look at anything but the fried chicken. How depressing. LOL

  • At 12/10/2012 9:02 am, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    Oh it's downstairs! Whenever I walk past I'm always wondering where it actually is! mm I love those cold buckwheat noodles, so good after bbq meats :) usually they bring out scissors as well so you can cut them.

  • At 12/10/2012 9:23 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    Fried chicken.. so good! Think I need to make my way here because fried chicken is one of my weaknesses! Love bibimbap that have cruncy rice at the bottom - its the only way it should be eaten!!

  • At 12/10/2012 9:37 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    thanks for sharing. i must try and get there this week. the fried chicken looks so perfect :-)

  • At 12/10/2012 10:22 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Fried chicken and beer? Want want want! I've passed this basement so many times - thanks for the heads up

  • At 12/10/2012 10:58 am, Blogger Mel said…

    You saved the best for last that's for sure! The chook looks amazing...and I really want to try Bipimbap as I've not had it before.

  • At 12/10/2012 11:44 am, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    Deliciously crunchy chicken smothered in garlicky sauce? What more could you ask for? :D

    Yes, a crunchy rice bottom is the best!

  • At 12/10/2012 12:11 pm, Blogger Shanks said…

    So much fried chicken goodness..so little time!!

  • At 12/10/2012 12:47 pm, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    I've walked past this place countless times without giving it a second thought. However, to have dolsot bibim with a proper crunchy base? KFC that's toppled Arisun from its perch up on high? I think I might have to walk in rather than walk past next time.

  • At 12/10/2012 2:17 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    wow that does look good! it's so nobbly that it looks like it has cornflakes or something as part of the crust. must. try.

  • At 12/10/2012 2:43 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    WOW! everything looks fantastic! will have to check it out when i head back to Sydney

  • At 12/10/2012 7:53 pm, Blogger irene said…

    hehee really love ur way of describing the chicken! wow I need to come here asap! :D

  • At 12/10/2012 8:57 pm, Anonymous Jen said…

    I'm also on the hunt for the best fried chicken! So far Haru takes the crown for me but after reading this post, I'm going to try this place out for sure :D

  • At 12/11/2012 12:41 pm, Anonymous The Food Sage said…

    Perfect first sentence and opening shot. Love your work! I had my first Korean meal last month ... can't believe i hadn't eaten Korean before! Three words: No looking back!

  • At 12/11/2012 3:08 pm, Anonymous gaby @ lateraleating said…

    I've never had Korean fried chicken and haven't had "the other" KFC in ages... but my guess is that the Korean is 1000 times superior.

  • At 12/11/2012 8:25 pm, Anonymous Mr C @ The Food Diary said…

    The Fried Chicken... *leaves chair to go out to get some right now*

  • At 12/11/2012 9:59 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Oh wow that looks INCREDIBLE!!! It also happens to be near where I stay whenever I go to Sydney... it's on the list. :)

    xox Sarah

  • At 12/12/2012 12:00 am, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    i use to frequent the strathfield branch before it closed down, they have the best ribs ever! yum! must go for my fried chicken soon!

  • At 12/16/2012 9:53 pm, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    Three times in two weeks! You go Helen! Very proud :) The KFC looks finger licking indeed.

  • At 12/16/2012 10:08 pm, Anonymous Rynagh @ More Dinner Than Cents said…

    I love this place! I'm not a chicken eater, so I can't speak for that, but they do do a great bimbimbap. The below-street-level feel is fun too.

  • At 12/20/2012 12:45 pm, Anonymous Wendy @ Obesebaby said…

    love your pic! wanna go here for Boxing day with my parents but they dont take bookings :(

  • At 1/30/2013 11:17 am, Anonymous currybadger said…

    After my last Korean restaurant experience in Sydney I was considering not trying anymore, I will give this place a shot though.

  • At 3/03/2013 5:15 pm, Anonymous Howard said…

    Tried it last night for the first time, better than Arisun by a long shot I reckon. I also prefer the "original recipe" over the sweet and spicy version with the sauce!

  • At 3/12/2013 10:04 pm, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Hellloooooooo fried chicken goodness! If only I can lick my screen...

  • At 6/19/2013 12:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen,

    Just wanted to say I love your blog - the food, writing and pics are all fab! The only problem is I always get super hungry and distracted from my work! I WANT FRIED CHICKEN!!

  • At 8/25/2013 11:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Best fried chicken AND chips in Sydney-ish... Chicken Man in front of Kingswood train station.


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