Monsieur Poisson tells me that where this Korean restaurant now stands, used to be a pancake place that stayed open until late. I unfortunately did not have a chance to sample their wares before they disappeared and, for ages, I thought this Korean place only did takeaway. The shop is narrow with a front window resembling that of a takeaway pizza joint or a kebab shop.
However, Mistress tells me she has heard of people dining in there so we decide to give it a try on a Friday evening. We wander in and are ushered through the store, past the kitchen, into an alfresco-style back courtyard. It is covered and nicely lit, with a flat-screen television playing in the background. There is a flower arch devoid of flowers and a few (real?) potted trees for decoration. It’s comfortable, although I am occasionally bothered by cigarette smoke drifting over from patrons smoking in a side laneway separated by a wooden gate.
We are handed menus where half the offerings seem to appear only in Korean. Not knowing Korean ourselves, this feels a little unfair – who knows what yummy delights we could be missing out on? – but in a way also vouches for the authenticity of the place. It is also reassuring to see that the bulk of customers already seated are Korean themselves.
As usual with Korean eateries, water in reusable plastic bottles is in abundance so we forego any other drinks. A young waiter takes our order in broken English and we settle into some girly banter. We have decided to skip the well-known fried chicken as neither of us wants fried fare on this occasion.
Our ‘Spicy Marinated Cheesy Chicken’ arrives on a hotplate sitting in plenty of chilli sauce and covered in lots of melty, stretchy cheese. There are also several Korean rice cakes buried within. It screams comfort-food but there is no rice to go with it. We inquire with the aforementioned young waiter who seems a little baffled by us, and approaches a secondary staff member before returning with some rice in the requisite stainless steel containers.
We dig in and find the dish is quite rich with its strong flavours. The sauce is sweet with ample bite and the melted cheese lends a creaminess to it. As we are eating we notice we haven’t received the usual barrage of side dishes seen at Korean establishments. We are embarrassed to once again have to bother the poor waiter and it does take us a while to establish communication channels, however after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing a light bulb illuminates above his head and he returns with a shallow dish of kimchi as well as creamy pasta salad.
With the spicy chicken as well as the side of kimchi, we are pleased when the seafood pancake is placed on our small, white plastic table. Made with a flour and egg batter and I suspect sometimes along with rice flour, Korean pancakes are thin and stretchy rather than fluffy like American pancakes. This one features a light golden ‘crust’ and contains plenty of seafood but unfortunately does not come pre-cut. Luckily Mistress and I are accustomed to the practice of sharing!
We are thoroughly full and are not able to finish the spicy chicken dish, but we sneak off to cool our palates with some ice-cream instead.
Archer St, Chatswood NSW
Tel: (02) 9411 8766
Opening Hours: I think it’s open 7 days…?
*EDIT*: As of mid-2011, Hello! Kyochon has been replaced by Gallus Gallus in the same shop space serving a similar menu.