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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Korean fried chicken at Seoul Orizin, Haymarket

Korean fried chicken at Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown

Korean fried chicken isn't just fuel. It's an entire sensory experience. Show me someone whose eyes don't light up at the sight of that golden batter, rippled with scales that promise an earth-shattering crunch. Forget about cutlery. Korean fried chicken is made for eating with fingers, a caveman experience that sees you tearing shreds of succulent flesh off the bone as crumbs of batter fly everywhere.

Decor inside Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Inside Seoul Orizin

It's the lure of Korean fried chicken that sees the new Seoul Orizin resolutely packed in its first week of opening. The decor is stripped back and uncluttered although a back wall glittering with gold adds some pizzazz. The industrial-style exposed light bulbs are totally on-trend. A Chinatown location (it sits across the road from ramen favourite, Menya) means it's a natural magnet for uni students and locals.

Kimchee panchan from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Panchan [clockwise from front]: Kimchee cabbage, jap chae, fish cake and mashed potato

Panchan or complimentary appetisers are always a welcome sight. We dabble our way through mini plates of spicy kimchee cabbage and slices of panfried fish cake.

Japchae panchan from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Japchae noodles

There's the delightful spring of japchae potato starch noodles and a scoop of sweet and creamy mashed potato. They'll happily provide replenishments if you ask nicely.

Beef stew bulgogi hot pot from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Beef stew bulgogi hot pot $12

The special lunch menu includes a list of more than 20 dishes that run from $10 to $13. The beef stew bulgogi hot pot is a simmering combination of marinated beef slices with glass noodles and enoki mushrooms. The broth is sweet and salty, perfect for drizzling over the accompanying bowl of plain rice.

Vegetable fried rice with black bean sauce from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Vegetable fried rice with black bean sauce $11 lunch special

There's a whole series of fried rice combo's too. The vegetable fried rice with black bean sauce comes with a huge and ominous puddle of black bean, studded with cabbage and onion. It's the same sauce they use for jajangmyeon black bean noodle.

Vegetable fried rice from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Vegetable fried rice $11 lunch special

Not into black bean? You can get your fried rice with prawns, bulgogi beef, chicken or vegetables.

Wagyu beef salad from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Wagyu beef salad $16

In a move that can only be seen as covering all bases, they offer salads too. The wagyu beef salad piles slices of panfried marinated wagyu beef over a dressed salad. They also do a tofu or a prawn salad, both of which are deep-fried. Win.

Jajangmyeon black bean sauce noodle from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Jajangmyeon $10
Black bean sauce noodle with pork and vegetables 

If you're a fan of Korean drama and always wondered what jajangmyeon tastes like, here's your chance. This dish is always featured, with looks of rapturous glee upon the faces of each actor as they slurp their way to the bottom.

The noodles are buried beneath a lake of black bean sauce, requiring a few minutes of spirited stirring to get everything mixed together. There's a great chew to the noodle and the black bean sauce has a satisfying meatiness to it, even though we can't find much evidence of the promised pork. It's sweet and saucy with an umami hit that makes it immensely satisfying. I'm starting to see why Koreans find this dish so comforting.

Today's trivia - jajangmyeon is the dish traditionally eaten by Korean singles on Black Day on April 14 each year. Singles who did not receive gifts on Feburary 14 (Valentine's Day when females gift males) or March 14 (White Day when males reciprocate gifts to females) commiserate together on Black Day with a bowl of jajangmyeon black bean noodles.

Boneless chicken gangjung from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Boneless chicken gangjung $17 half chicken
Deep fried crispy boneless chicken thigh fillets

But more importantly, where's the fried chicken? There are ten varieties on the menu running from fried chicken wings to fire grilled hot spicy chicken with cheese on top. The boneless chicken gangjung is for fast feasting, hunks of chicken thigh fillets covered in a rubbly batter.

Crispy Korean fried chicken from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Crispy fried chicken $30 whole

I'm all about fried chicken on the bone though. The whole crispy fried chicken yields a mountain of deep fried deliciousness.

Spring onion Korean fried chicken from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Spring onion chicken $33 whole 
(we requested the spring onion and mustard sauce on the side)

The spring onion chicken is usually served with the sauce and spring onion curls across the top, but we ask that the sauce be served on the side. There's a resounding crunch when we bite into the batter, a sound that's as loud - and mouthwatering - as pork crackling. It's a crunch that eclipses Arisun, Naruone, Red Pepper and Sparrow's Mill. The meat itself remains juicy too.

Korean fried chicken batter from Seoul Orizin, Haymarket Chinatown
Crispy batter

They do soy and garlic, sweet and spicy and an intriguing spicy prawn and chicken gangjung. I can't wait to acquaint myself with their version of snowing cheese chicken on my next visit.

Attracting the attention of servers can be tricky when the restaurant is busy, but when you do, staff are super friendly and eager to please.

Seoul Orizin Korean Restaurant, Haymarket Chinatown

Seoul Orizin - the Chicks on Urbanspoon

Seoul Orizin Korean Restaurant
Shop 4, 203-209 Thomas Street, Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8541 7531

Open daily 11am-11pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Korean fried chicken - Arisun, Haymarket
Korean fried chicken - Beschico, Epping
Korean fried chicken - Kim, Potts Point
Korean fried chicken - Moon Park, Redfern
Korean fried chicken - Naruone, Sydney
Korean fried chicken - Red Pepper, Strathfield
Korean fried chicken - Sparrow's Mills, Sydney
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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/01/2015 04:09:00 pm


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