Monday, 23 December 2013

Dukbaegi, Chatswood

Dukbaegi is a new Korean restaurant right next door to Makanai (the former site of dessert cafe Zen Q). Its head chef, Danny Hwang, draws on his Korean heritage and influence of his mother's cooking to deliver an admirable range of stone pot dishes - including bibimbap, hot pot and noodles.

I've been here a couple of times already, and it's the Boy's new favourite Korean haunt in Chatswood.

Turnover is high, causing the lines outside to shrink and grow reasonably quickly. We weren't sure whether we could have mandu (Korean dumplings) dine-in, or whether it was a takeaway option only (since the menu suggests that the former is the case). The waiter clarified that we could eat-in with mandu, so when given a choice between steamed and pan fried, we opted for the crunch of the latter.

I had a pork and kim chi mandu, while the Boy chose the chicken, both to be dipped in the soy sauce-based accompaniment. The kim chi in mine provided extra crunch, spice and moisture, but other than that, they weren't too different from each other.

Pan fried mandu ($2.50 each)

Kim chi with pork mandu pp ($2.50)

My main was the BBQ beef bibimbap. Notably, this particular option didn't come with egg (though there are other dishes in the menu that do), and not all the vegetables were typically what you would find in Korean food (i.e. the corn kernels and slices of capsicum). I personally love these vegetables, so I was really pleased with what I had.

The 3 little side dishes were bean sprouts (which I offloaded to the Boy), spicy cold tofu and little bits of Korean pancake).

BBQ beef bibimbap ($13.90)

The first time the Boy ate the chilli prawn hotpot, it was excruciatingly spicy for me (and just tolerable for him). This time, they'd taken the spiciness down a notch, so it was hot but not overwhelmingly so. They're generous with the prawns, and the sauce is really tasty. It's made me believe that their rice dishes are pretty safe choices.

Chilli prawn hotpot ($14.90)

During my first visit, I'd ordered a spicy seafood noodle dish (can't remember the exact name), which was ultra hot. The Korean rice noodles had a lovely texture at times, but they also had a tendency to clump up together, creating hard, starchy and chewy lumps of noodle (which I know is a huge bother to a lot of people).

I'm keen to see how its newly-opened udon neighbour fares.

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