Review of Sydney Madang Korean BBQ Restaurant, Sydney
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
I have been dining at Sydney Madang (and loving it!) for about 10 years now, so when I was invited to their recent Media Night I couldn't have been more excited. On one hand, I knew exactly what was to lay before me: beautiful, friendly service, a central CBD location, and, in my opinion, the best Korean BBQ in Sydney. But on the other hand, what I didn't know of was the the vast range of other absolutely delicious dishes on order. It seems I am a creature of habit and order the same thing every time without trying anything new! Well here was my chance, and boy, have I been missing out all this time!
The very first time I came to Sydney Madang was at the end of a booze-filled night, when we quite literally stumbled across a lane way and I spied a big line up of people waiting to get in somewhere. Even in my drunken stupor, I was able to spot a good thing and joined the queue, thus starting the beginning of a beautiful friendship between myself and this restaurant. Since then its been my venue for a post-races recovery meal, girls night out, family get together, date night and lazy lunches. As they say, the rest is history. Sydney Madang is hidden away down a lane way off Pitt St in the Sydney CBD so it can be tricky to find, but those in the know recognise the yellow sign and the treasurers that await. I usually order all the KBBQ (that's what the kids are calling Korean BBQ these days) greatest hits, the Bul Go Gi, the beef short rib, the chilli pork, the starch noodles, the dumplings, the pancakes and enjoy the informal, communal feel of cooking your own meal on the grill at the table. Tonight, we have all that stuff, and as usual it is completely delicious but what I am really interested in is trying the other dishes on offer which are not merely side dishes to the KBBQ, they are a main event in their own right. Take the Frozen Raw Beef Salad for instance, to be honest, not something I would usually order, but after tossing all the super fresh ingredients together and trying it, I am blown away, in a good way, by the heady fragrance of sesame that is permeating through this dish. Texturally the crisp matchsticks of nashi pear and cucumber contrast the soft and tender meat (its not frozen once you mix everything through). An absolute delight of a dish to eat and all my dining mates agree wholeheartedly.
Other dishes like the Boiled Pork Belly with Shredded Radish and Oyster Kimchi offer a change up on the sweet/smokey flavours usually found at KBBQ. The clean flavours of the pork with an indulgent, yet awakening kimchi are a pair well-matched. Next up, the Deep Fried Chicken in Sweet Sauce with its almost flourescent colour are a new favourite of mine. I am amazed and perplexed at how the batter can retain its incredible crisp shell while being dredged in a sweet glaze. Even after the meal is done, I find myself parked in front of the remaining bowl of these morsels, so full, but still picking away #cantstopwontstop, in disbelief that the batter is still crisp after being smothered in sauce and sitting around for more than an hour! Witchcraft is my only explanation. I would kill to learn how they do that.
“The Extra Hot Spicy Chicken with Pineapple, Rice Cake and Cheese on Top is a hard one for me. I should hate it. I mean, it does sound kind of revolting. I am even hesitant to try it. But in the name of research I give it a go and I like it, kind of... I would probably place it in the yum/yuk category for me. The same place that I file dishes like oyster mornay and surf and turf. Are you with me on this one? Dishes that are so over the top and unnecessary and sound kind of wrong, but once to just tuck in and eat, you enjoy it, but guiltily.''
Yes the cheese is stretchy and delicious as all hell, yes the chicken is tender, yes the chilli sauce is offset by the sweetness of the pineapple, yes the rice cake is adding a strangely addictive chewy texture, but somehow, something inside me just screams WRONG! I would eat it and enjoy it if someone else ordered it, but I wouldn't order it again myself. You have to admit, it does take a kick-ass picture though! How about that cheese pull!? #cheesepull #instafood
I've always been a fan of eel (strangely not in the yum/yuk category for me, but I can see how it would be for other people) and the Grilled and Marinated Eel dish here is wonderful! Salty, sweet, tender eel sitting atop caramalised onions and mixed mushrooms is another winner and I'm still kicking myself that I have been coming here for 10 years and only tried these dishes tonight!
The traditional KBBQ options are classics for a reason: because they are so utterly delicious and everyone seems to love them. I maintain that Sydney Madang does it the best in Sydney, but my eyes have certainly been opened tonight to the large format dishes on offer here which play no second fiddle to the KBBQ, but are stars on their own. The ability to produce both at such a high level is admirable and has certainly impressed me. I, for one, am so intrigued and excited to come back (hey- I was going to anyway!) and try their other large specialty dishes. As if I didn't sing their praises enough already, this event has proven why they remain so popular on the Sydney dining scene after 15 years of being in business and if you haven't been here already, or if you have only tried the KBBQ here, you have to go! You might even see me sitting at the next table over!
Sydney Madang Korean BBQ Restaurant 371A Pitt St, Sydney
*I dined here as a guest of Sydney Madang Korean BBQ Restaurant and Hungry Diner but all opinions remain my own.