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Hype, like with anything can be a double edge sword. It could make or break a place. There’s been so much hype around Bella Brutta since it opened in Newtown back in 2018.



I’ve heard nothing but praises from bloggers, food writers and everyone else in the Sydney social media community about their pizzas and other Italian influenced offerings on their menu. This is expected from a brainchild of Luke Powell and Porteño dudes Joseph Valore and Elvis Abrahanowicz. Chocolatesuzeand I visited them few months ago and I can confirm, believe the hype! It lived up to my expectations.



The cheese fritti with hot sauce ($4 each) is deep fried golden goats and Parmesan cheese with woodfired green pepper salsa. The crisped cheese balls had an amazing molten soft cheesy centre and the salsa complimented the balls with a kick of smoky and sweet flavours.





I’ve never had seafood pizza as delicious as their clam pizza ($26). The crust is legit with blistered burnt bits and a thin soft base. There was so much umami from the clams and pecorino cheese. The garlic, parsley and chilli brings balance to the dish’s umami. I’m normally a margherita or quattro formaggi kinda guy but this pizza got me craving for more!


They had a dry aged ribeye ($40) on offer that day. The Veal milainase was dry aged for 1 month and panko crumbed. “Tender buttery umami” is what comes to mind with this dish. It also had a lovely smoked beef fat and lemon vinaigrette.


The generous slab of tiramisu ($14) that we had was amazing! It had hazelnuts, beautiful layers of cream, mascarpone, Disaronno amaretto and Amaro Montenegro liqueur.

I cannot wait to visit this place again. There is so much more on the menu that I want to try especially the other pizza offerings.


Bella Brutta
135 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
Tel: 02 9922 5941

Hours
Mon to Fri 5pm-11pm
Saturday 12pm-11pm
Sunday 12pm-11pm


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I have fond memories of Cebu in the Philippines. Not only is the region and food great but so is their version of lechon (Philippine suckling pig). What sets Cebu lechon apart from other versions of lechon is that the meat is so damn tasty that you don’t even need any lechon sarsa (sauce). The unique blend of spices and herbs that goes into the stuffing takes the flavours of the meat to another level.




Sydney Cebu Lechon by the Mahusay family has been operating since 1991 as a made to order/catering lechon business in Sydney. In fact, we actually ordered the lechon for our engagement party from them way back and I remember it being the best lechon I’ve had in Sydney. Fast forward to 2016, Will Mahusay took over the family business and has also opened a restaurant in Enmore a few months ago. It’s a small casual restaurant with a minimalist type menu that highlights their main product, Cebu-style lechon.

Their signature Cebu lechon (charcoal roasted pig) is $18 for 200 grams and it comes with atsara (pickled papaya salad) and some vinegar soy blend sauce. The sauce is just there as an option but to be honest, the pork is already incredibly tasty on its own. The meat is tender, smoky, rich in notes of garlic and other spices, full of umami and very aromatic. The tiles of crisped crackling makes amazing shattering sounds with every bite.

Then there’s a dish local to the Cebu region called humba($23.50). Only the chicken version was available at the time. It’s Cebu-style adobo that‘s heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine. It’s heavier on spices rather than being vinegary compared to other versions of adobo in other parts of the Philippines. The sauce is very close to an aromatic umami rich Chinese masterstock. So you get notes of garlic, star anise and other spices. The braised chicken was so tender that it easily fell of the bones.



There are also weekly rotating desserts available. We had ube cheesecake and frozen brazo de mercedes. The frozen brazo de mercedes was like almost like a meringue and custard flavoured ice cream in texture with a crumble-type base.

Besides the delicious food, the service was also excellent. As there are rotating specials on the menu, I would definitely go back to try them.

Sydney Cebu Lechon
Shop 4/80-80A Enmore Rd, Newtown NSW 2042
Ph: 0481 205 589
Opening hours:
Friday to Sunday 11:45am-3pm, 5:45pm-9pm


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There are thousands of ramen shops in Tokyo. According to my homies at Ramen Beast, the estimates vary at around 6,000 to 10,000 as of 2017. Amongst those shops are also thousands of ramenyas that offer tsukemen or solely dedicated to offering only tsukemen.

Here’s a list of some of the best (and my personal favourites) tsukemen shops/dishes that Tokyo has to offer:


Tomita

You can’t talk about Tokyo tsukemen without mentioning the legendary Tomita. Tomita-san’s OG shop in Matsudo has been given the title “best ramen of the year” in Japan four years in a row by a prestigious ramen guidebook.



Tomita-san

The thick broth is stewed for 3 days. Leftover broth from previous days is used in the daily stock. There are four different broths combined. Tomita’s goal is to make something amazing out of something worth ¥880.





Tonkotsu, torigara, garlic, onions and ginger are part of his golden broth. Niboshi is added later on for smoky accent as well as mackarel. The broth was thick and had layers and layers of flavour with lots of umami. The shoyu tare, yuzu citrus, pepper and fish powder adds extra complexity and depth. There’s also menma, naruto, negi and some amazing chashu. The thick housemade noodles are made out of 4 types of flour. They are on the bouncy side and bit chewy. One more awesome fact, Tomita-san worked under the original legendary Taishoken founder and head chef, Mr. Yamagashi. Hands down, this is my favourite ramen shop in Japan to date.


PS: If you don’t feel like waking up early and lining up at 7am in the morning, they also have a shop at Mitsui Park Outlet in Kisarazu.

Address: 〒271-0092 千葉県松戸市松戸1339 高橋ビル
Hours: Open daily 11am to 3pm. Tickets reservation from 7am.
Nearest station: Matsudo

Fuunji

Fuunji is another famous tsukemen y’all need to check out. It is located Southwest of Shinjuku station. Minutes before opening Fuunji’s opening time, there would be queue outside of Miyake-san’s shop. Mr Miyake is a self taught ramen cook who has been all over the country to try all the best tsukemen shops. Both tsukemen and ramen offerings are available at the shop. But most of the customers come here for his signature gyokai chicken tsukemen.



Like most shops, you buy your tickets at the vending machine (buttons also have English translation). Once you are seated, you will be asked for your ticket and whether you want medium or large serving of noodles.


Their tokusei or special tsukemen (¥1000) is my go to option, which comes with an eggy type noodles, a medium thick seafood chicken broth topped with fish powder, pieces of chashu and ajitamago (flavoured soft boiled egg). The broth coats the noodles a little bit and is quite aromatic. It is full of umami with a bit of sweetness and some smoky accent.

For leftover soup, there’s dashi available (no extra cost) to add to your soup and make it more drinkable. Beware, this shop is quite tiny and there’s a queue of people right behind you as you eat.

Address: 〒151-0053 東京都渋谷区代々木2丁目14−3 北斗第一ビル1F
Hours: Mon to Sat 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-9pm. Closed Sundays
Nearest station: Shinjuku


Niboshi Tsukemen Miyamoto





If you enjoy the umami from dried baby sardines called Niboshi and you want to take it to another level in terms of flavour, then you need to visit Miyamoto in Kamata. As the shop’s name suggest, they specialise in Niboshi and go all out with it in their tsukemen. This is a popular shop so I suggest going before opening time.



Miyamoto’s Tokusei Tsukemen (特製極濃煮干しつけ麺, ¥1000)  has the most intense fish umami flavour I have come across. First up, the noodles were insanely good and the chashu was almost like a peppery ham. The ajitama was perfect and on the sweet side. The super thick niboshi tonkotsu broth was intense and super heavy on the niboshi umami but with heaps of onions to cut through the intensity. This is not for anyone with a low tolerance to salty and heavy umami flavours. But if you like it intense like me, then you need to try it.

Address: 〒144-0051 東京都大田区西蒲田7丁目8−1
Hours: Open daily 11am-3pm, 6pm-9pm
Nearest station: Kamata


Tetsu – Shinjuku station shop

Tetsu tsukemen is an institution in Tokyo. You’ll find many Tetsu shops in Tokyo. The Shinjuku station shop tends to have shorter lines and is quite convenient to go to.







The tsukemen broth here is quite similar to Fuunji’s in my opinion. The difference is that I find Tetsu’s broth less sweet and a tad more on the umami smoky side with a good balance of pork and smoky seafood flavours. The thick noodles comes hiyamori style which is served slightly cold. Try the special tsukemen (¥950)  if you want to try all the special toppings.

Address: 〒160-0023 東京都新宿区西新宿1丁目10 新宿区西新宿1丁目 南口地下街1号京王モール
Hours: Open daily 10am-11:30pm
Nearest station: Shinjuku

Men Washo

Tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen can be quite intense. If you want it on the lighter side, then you should try Men Washo in Sangenjaya.



Their tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen with ajitama (¥800) is the go to. The consistency of the broth is much lighter compared to most tonkotsu gyokai broths but it is still umami packed with smoky and sweet notes. The noodles are not as thick compared to most noodles used for tsukemen but is still amazing for capturing the broth with every dip. Even for a medium sized tsukemen, the serving is quite large.

Address: 2 Chome-6-2 Taishido, Setagaya City, Tokyo 154-0004, Japan
Hours: Tues to Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:30pm-11:00pm,
Monday closed
Nearest station: Sangenjaya


Hayashida Shinjuku




For a lighter tsukemen option with a convenient location in Shinjuku (Behind the massive Biqlo store) y’all need to check out Hayashida. This place is known for their shoyu ramen but their premium special tsukemen (¥950) is pretty awesome too.

Their thick bouncy noodles, sous vide pork, ajitama and light chicken shoyu dipping broth (made with Oyama jidori chicken) was so damn good. The broth had this well-balanced umami, salty and sweet flavours.

Address: Ramen Hayashida
〒160-0022 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku City, Shinjuku, 3-chōme−33−15−1F 新宿ペガサス館
Hours: Open 7 days 11am-4pm, 6pm-10pm
Nearest station: Shinjuku and Shinjuku Sanchome






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What’s up fam?! Sorry for the long blog break. As y’all know, I was in the land of the rising sun for a while (posts of my Japan eats are coming on the blog soon). It’s only been over two weeks since we came back and I’m missing ramen already. Luckily, Sydney is not short in amazing ramen options.



Some of you may remember chef Shota Sato from Tokyo Bird and Osaka Trading & Co (also ex-head chef at Bar H). Since moving to Jazushi a few months ago to team up with his long time friend Yuki Ishikawa (owner of Jazushi), they have started doing ramen lunch sessions from Thursday to Saturday.  There’s shoyu ramen and tantanmen available on the menu along with some snacks like chashu nigiri and karaage chicken.


mmmmm se-abura


Shota’s shoyu ramen ($17) is pure comfort with a good dosage of umami. The broth is mainly chicken based with a blend of pork bones. The soy tare gives it complexity with a subtle depth and hints of sweetness. It also has the right amount of se-abura (pork back fat) for that extra layer of texture and flavour. The flat-ish noodles were cooked just right and the aburi chashu was smoky with sweet notes. It also came with negi, bean sprouts and a perfect ajitamago.


Their take on tantanmen ($17) is currently my favourite. Most tantanmen tend to be either too oily, too salty or so much heavy on the spices. Shota’s version at Jazushi is the most well-balanced and most premium tasting I have come across. The miso based broth though tends to lean slightly on the sweet side with nutty notes which is how I like it. It was also topped with flavoured pork mince and shiraga negi (or white hair leek as it resembles white hair).


Their aburi or grilled chashu nigiri here was amazing! Serving it in the form of a nigiri (3 pieces for $7.50) is genius.

The karaage chicken ($7) is one of the best that I’ve had. The coating was crisped and flavoursome whilst the meat was juicy.

*Ramen Raff was invited as a guest of Jazushi via Doq.

Jazushi
02 9699 8977

Ramen Lunch: 12pm to 2:30pm Thu - Sat


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Neutral Bay is known as Sydney’s Japanese central and is also one of my favourite suburbs for obvious reasons. Many Sydneysiders will be familiar with renowned sushi chef Tomoyuki Matsuya (ex Hana-jurin). Tomo-san recently took over a Japanese bistro on Military Road called Ichibandori (which means “No.1 Chicken” in Japanese).







This cozy bistro showcases Japanese izakaya-style sharing dishes, to sashimi, robatayaki (grilled dishes) and ramen! The ramen side will be mainly looked after by none other than ramen master Hide Suzuki (ex head chef of Manpuku ramen). One little tip, the shop entrance is actually on Ben Boyd Road (between Military and Cheal Lane).




The kingfish carpaccio ($21) was absolutely beautiful. Fresh kingfish sashimi dressed with a light soy based sauce with sweet, tangy and umami notes.




The gyozas ($9) were perfectly seasoned with that caramelised crust that we all love. The filling was juicy and flavoursome with hints of ginger.






During one of their soft opening days, I got to try their massive bowl of Asari clams shio ramen. This was probably the most refined bowl of ramen that I’ve had in Sydney to date. It was legit! The bowl was priced at $25, which in my honest opinion is a bit pricey for a bowl of ramen. But, the price is justified by the premium toppings and ingredients that went into it. Thin modern Tokyo style noodles cooked yawarakame or soft to match the light chintan chicken and pork broth. The broth had so much complexity and umami for a light broth. That’s thanks to a shio tare seasoning that consists of over 14 secret ingredients to give it depth. There’s also smoky and umami notes from the toppings: clams and robata vegetables (various mushrooms and broccolini). I loved the crunch from the grilled matsutake mushroom. If that’s not enough to make it premium, it’s also topped with Pepe Saya butter and a spritz of sake to finish it off. Let’s not forget the premium roasted nori, menma and the most perfect flavoursome ajitsuke tamago (yolk was slightly runny, just the way I like it).

The Ramen Ichibandori sessions will be a partnership between Tomo-san and Hide-san. They will start doing ramen on a daily basis (except Sunday & public holidays) from 9pm (yes, that’s supper) till late starting from the 6th of February 2019. Customers will
be ablen choose from 2 or more types of ramen every night.

I expected nothing less from two of Sydney’s best Japanese chefs. I’m already planning my next visit which is hopefully in the next few days.

Ichibandori Robata and Ichibandori Ramen
4/81-91 Military Road
Neutral Bay NSW
Hours:
6pm till late Mon-Saturday (please check their instagram accounts for more updates)
Instagram: https://instagram.com/kuririn_tomo
https://instagram.com/ramen_ichibandori


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One of the best meals I’ve had in my life was in Seoul, South Korea. What’s even better is that in Seoul, you can do progressive lunches at Michellin restaurants at a reasonable price. In this post, I’m referring to Mingles Restaurant. It’s a restaurant that’s positioned at number 11 in Asia’s 50 best restaurants as of 2018. It has also been voted as Korea’s best restaurant for 3 consecutive years.


Mingles is also located in the upmarket area of Apgujeong and is not far from another Michelin star restaurant, Jungsik. The interior and vibe of the space is both warm and hip without any pretention even in their service. The name Mingles comes from the “mingling” or fusion of cooking styles/flavours from European, Korean and Japanese cuisine. Head chef Mingoo Kang is said to have worked at Nobu and also trained under renowned chef Martin Berasategui. The menu is seasonal and it changes every few weeks so dishes in the post may not be available at the time of your visit. We opted for their 7 course lunch (we ordered different dishes on some of the courses), which was ₩85,000 per person at the time.

It was love at first taste for me with their Amuse bouche. It’s Mingle’s egg custard with sansho pepper dish (still available). The beautiful silky custard had garlic, smoky and peppery citrus notes.

Squid carpacio dressed with fish roe.

Fruits appetiser with seasonal seafood and pinenut sauce.



We also had a Korean Cabbage Seon which had abalone on cabbage, cabbage consomme and rice cake (still available). It was delicate and simple but it had so much umami.

The butterfishfrom Jeju island with fried potato was delicate and perfectly cooked. The fish was velvety and juicy.



The braised Korean short-rib with roasted onion was amazing! The meat was fatty, tender and buttery as expected from a Korean short-rib. If your buttery umami from the short-rib was not enough, you will get the same extra goodness from the beef tartare along with the crunchy tile of battered nori.

High quality striploin with Jang (or Korean style sauce) consomme with seasonal vegetables and beef tartare. This dish was umami packed with from the meat to the veggies. The medium rare striploin was super tender, perfectly cooked and seasoned well. The veggies also had some sour and sweet notes.

The Jang trio is a “Doen-Jang” creme brulee, “Gan-jang” pecan, “Gochujang” blackrice, vanilla ice cream and whisky foam dessert was more than just a great treat. It was a party of well balanced flavours in my mouth!

The chestnut Korean style mont blanc was also nothing short of excellent. It had jujube, Korean citron, pear and mascarpone. It was almost like a hybrid of mont blanc and cheesecake.



We ended our lunch with a long black coffee made from Fritz coffee beans and specialty tea with sweet treats.

I was highly impressed from the space to the service and food. So much attention to detail and creativity went into each dish. I will definitely come back here next time I’m in Seoul. Another plus side to this restaurant is that you can book ahead online too!

Mingles
757 Seolleung-ro, Nonhyeon 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Koreaa
Hours:
Tues-Fri 12 to 10:30pm
Sat-Sun 12 to 10:00pm
Monday - closed
Reservations: http://www.restaurant-mingles.com/v2/contact/


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Mounty County has a new Sheriff in town! The team behind Mate Burger truck has now opened a new shop in the heart of Mount Druitt.




I’ve been a fan of my homie Henry Paraan’s work since I first tried his burgers at the Blacktown Aussie Night Markets 2 years ago. You can now get their American/Filipino fusion burgers from Friday to Sunday at their shop that sits up to 40 people. Henry is a Shake Shack fan like I am so you can expect awesome juicy flavoursome smashed patty burgers from this new joint too. The all-time favourite Mate offerings are also available like the cheesemate, ensaymada burger and adobo fries. Then there’s the shop exclusives like lechon rice bowl and the Hey Mounty burger.

Fries before guys folks!! Yes, they do have normal fries and a Cheese-cino fries ($10). The cheese-cino fries is a serving of large French fries loaded with melted cheese and tocino-style bacon pieces and Mate sauce. The tocino-style bacon had hints of garlic and sweet flavours. 

Their classic ensaymada burger ($13) consists of a juicy beef patty, smoked sriracha maple bacon, rocket, melted kraft cheese and a mayo based Mate sauce in a sweet fluffy buttery Filipino-style brioche bread with cheese. This burger perfectly exhibits how one can balance out sweet, salty and umami flavours.

The Mare (pronounced Mah-reh) burger ($14) is the first exclusive item on the menu. This is a must order when you visit the shop for the first time! Crispy deep-fried chicken thigh fillet with the Mate sauce, cheese, apple, chilli jam and lettuce in a soft milk bun. The coating on the chicken was crunchy with a texture somewhere between a doughy karaage chicken and Southern-style buttermilk coating. The meat was perfectly cooked and I love it went well with the apple and chilli jam.

The Hey Mounty ($14 for a single patty and $4 for an extra patty) is another shop exclusive. A massive classic “the works” style burger with beef patty, tocino bacon, cheese, mate sauce, onions, tomato and lettuce.

Mate stays true to it’s Filipino roots with a Filipino style Rice Bowl ($15)! Fluffy rice topped with succulent and crispy pieces of roast pork belly, atchara (pickled shredded green papaya), lechon sauce and banana ketchup.

Add ons to you burger like fries, bacon and drinks are also available. There are also plans of expanding the menu too, which includes the addition of the all-time Filipino dessert halo halo. Trading hours will also be extended soon (follow @MateBurger on instgram for updates). Congrats Henry, Rose and the rest of team Mate Burger!

Mate Burger Shop
1B Mount Druitt Road
Mount Druitt NSW

Trading hours:
Friday to Sunday
Fri & Sat 12pm to 8pm
Sun 12pm to 6pm




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The contemporary yakitori that we come across out here in Australia and other parts of the world is in actual fact Kushiyaki. Whilst the menu in a yakitori restaurant mainly consists of chicken based grilled skewers, kushiyaki restaurants covers all bases.


 


Head Chef Akihito Marui
The new Goryon San in Surry Hills is a Hakata-style Kushiyaki restaurant that offers a great range of grilled delights. They have 3 shops in Tokyo: Nishiazabu, Shibuya Miyamasuzaka and Shibuya Nanpeida. My friend Akihito Marui (ex Torikizoku Osaka, Yakitori Jin) is the head chef at the Surry Hills shop. Hakata-style kushiyaki specialises in rolled up meat skewers that are filled with either vegetables, seafood and even cheese seasoned with tare (sauce marinade) or shio (salt). But since it’s Hakata in origin, expect a lot of pork in the menu. There’s a decent range of sake, shochu and wine too.



Chef Yuto Moriue
The Surry Hills shop has counter seatings that lets you enjoy the grilling action (watch out for Chef Yuto Moriue aka the “Japanese Salt Bae”) as well as seatings for 2 people and big groups. The space is well lit with modern Japanese fittings and furnishings.

The grilled skewers menu is quite extensive and boasts quality:

The wagyu loin skewer ($10 each) was extremely tasty, tender and buttery. It also comes with some freshly grated wasabi.


The sukiyaki wagyu skewer ($8.50 each) is another hit! Crown daisy leaf & enoki mushrooms wrapped in tender Wagyu glazed with tare. It also comes with egg yolk for dipping.

King prawns ($7.50 each) wrapped in thinly sliced pork belly.

The buta bara ($5.50 each) is a pork belly skewer that is extra fatty and seasoned with shio.

A bunch of juicy (with a slight crunch) enoki mushrooms & pork belly skewers ($6.50 each).

The XL shiitake mushrooms ($6 each) are smoky and full of umami.


How can I say no to grilled camembert cheese ($5.50 each)!

What do I love more than tsukune (grilled minced chicken skewers)? Grilled cheese tsukune ($8 each) of course!

Then there’s the gorgonzola honey skewers ($6 each). Pungent and delicious gorgonzola cheese wrapped in sweet & smoky flaky pastry glazed with honey.

The scallop and bacon skewers ($7.50 each) were so addictive!

There’s a also a classic zuri or chicken giblet skewer ($5.50 each) that was smoky, sweet and tender.

Last but not least is the fatty and delicious bonjiri ($5.50 each) or chicken tail. Love the umami packed caramelised bits at the edges of the fatty bits.

Omedetou gozaimasu Goryon San on your first Sydney branch opening!

Goryon San Surry Hills
47 Reservoir Street
Surry Hills NSW
Ph: 9281 2228
https://goryon-san.com.au

Opening Hours
Dinner 5:30pm to 10:00pm 7 days

Ramen lunch (COMING SOON) 12pm to 2:00pm

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Kakashi is without a doubt my favourite Naruto character and his special attack the lightning blade “chidori” (A thousand birds) is badass. I also have a new favourite Japanese restaurant in the Sydney with the same name as Kakashi’s signature move.





Chidori Japanese Bistro is located in Crows Nest near the Willoughby Road dining strip. The space has that quaint and beautiful modern Japanese fittings and furnishings. The restaurant has 2 floors with bar seatings, tables for 2 and for groups. The menu pretty much has this modern Japanese diner style commonly seen in Osaka. Chef/owner Eric Chan and his team has Japanese-style Western dishes on offer from Tonkatsu set to Omurice and izakaya staples like renkon, karaage chicken and Salmon tartare. Oh, for the ramenheads out there, they have some ramen bowls on offer too.

The karaage chicken ($8) is super succulent with a nice doughy crisp coating. Accompanied with mayo and salad.

Their tonkatsu ($14) is absolutely amazing! The decent sized fatty pork loin is cooked sous vide and then deep friend in golden crisped panko! It was beautifully tender and juicy on the inside and it came with cabbage salad and umami rich tonkatsu sauce & mustard. For an extra $4, you can have it as a setwith rice, miso soup and salad. The housemade sesame here is extra tasty and addictive.


The omurice ($12) here is next level awesome! Tomato flavoured rice with bits of chashu covered under a blanket of fluffy egg (insert drooling emoji). It also comes with a creamy cheese sauce and smudged of what appears to be a form of demiglace. It also comes with salad. Tip: order extra grilled melted stretchy cheese ($3) to go with your omurice (you’re welcome).


I was excited to see ramen on their menu! For a place that doesn’t specialise in ramen, their Shirunashi tantan ($16) is insanely delicious! It’s like a mazesoba with a bit sweet, nutty and umami rich thick broth, onsen egg, negi, kikurage and bean sprouts. Mix it well, mix it good and voilà, your shirunashi tantan is ready! The thin noodles they use are similar to the ones used for Hakata style ramen. They cook noodles to katame (al dente) texture.

We ended our lunch with some delicious brown sugar syrup glazed fried buns ($9 and gua baos to be exact) with matcha ice cream and fruits.

The service here of course has a dash of Japanese hospitality that we all love. I definitely want to go back to try their Kogashi shoyu ramen.

Ramen Raff was invited by Chidori Japanese Bistro to dine as a guest.

Chidori Japanese Bistro
Shop 4, 29 Holtermann Street
Crows Nest NSW

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-9pm.
Closed on Sundays


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I’ve been recently missing Seoul and all its glorious food. Most people who know me are aware of my Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) obsession! I love everything from the sping onion type (also known as padak in Korea) to the sweet chilli glazed kind. South Korea’s love for fried chicken is so deep into their culture that it’s easily available almost 24/7 and everywhere in Seoul! 



I’ve been to Seoul twice now. In those 2 trips, I’ve visited a few popular shops that I can now confirm are nothing short of a complete sensory experience. Most of them are now chains so they are pretty much easy to access. Without further ado, here are some of Seoul’s best fried chicken shops:

BHC 치킨 (Better & Happier Choice)

If you’re heading to Seoul soon, chances are you will most likely stay at either Hongdae or Myeongdong! There are branches of BHC in Seoul. The most convenient one is the shop in a building complex Myeongdong 7 ga-gil. This shop was made popular and endorsed by South Korean actress Jun Ji-Hyun (aka Cheon Song-Yi from My Love from the Stars).


Makgeolli

Cheese sprinkle fries 
They provide you with complimentary mini prawn crackers while you wait for food. Just like any Chimaek (fried chicken and beer) bistro in Seoul, they serve local and imported beer. Of course, you can get Makgeolli too!

We opted for a whole chicken ban ban (half & half) of sprinkle chicken (snow cheese) and OG fried chicken for ₩19,000 (A$23). That’s roughly 14 pieces of chicken, which we normally charge around A$35 here in Sydney. The OG has that nice rippled flavoursome coating and the meat is juicy. The cheese powder sprinkled on the sprinkle chicken had a nice blend of onion and garlic flavours with hints of sweetness.

Address: 21 Myeongdong 7-gil, Euljiro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu
Opening Hours: 2:00pm – 12:00mn
Nearest station: Euljiro 1

678 Chicken




Yes! You’ve guessed right if you’re thinking that this shop is affiliated with 678 Korean BBQ group (Owned by renowned celebrity Kang Ho-Dong) chain of restaurants. The shop we visited is just right next to BHC Myeongdong and just like BHC, it has multiple stores in Seoul and even globally. The space has a clean and simple contemporary interior. The staff members are quite friendly and one of the best parts about this store is that they are open until 3am every day! The restaurant also has about 90 seats.
  


We pretty much got the same whole chicken half & half of sprinkle chicken and OG fried chicken (₩17,000 or A$21). The most notable part and what sets them apart from BHC in my opinion is that their snow cheese sprinkle is less sweet with more umami taste like Twisties and Doritos. The OG chicken coating is probably a tad crunchier too.


Their fries are pretty good too but it's their cheese sticks that you also need to try! Golden crisped fried goodness on the outside with a stretchy mozzarella on the inside.


Address: 199-40 Euljiro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Hours: 11am until 2am
Nearest station: Euljiro 1

Mom’s Touch



The Mom’s Touch menu structure and even space is quite similar to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Like its American counterpart, they are also a chain restaurant that specialises in fried chicken and chicken burgers. The only difference is that their menu consists of Korean inspired flavours for both their fried chicken pieces and chicken burgers.


I tried one of their fried chicken burger offerings. In my honest opinion, I much prefer their burger compared to Kentucky’s! For the price of ₩3,500 won (A$4.35) you get a decent sized one-hand burger. The super rippled fried chicken coating was ridiculously crunchy and the meat was super juicy and flavoursome. The burger also consists of lettuce, mayo, pickles and onion in a soft milk bun.


We also tried a half serving of snow cheese sprinkled chicken for only ₩5,500 (A$6.84 for 7 pieces of chicken). The coating was perfectly crunchy and meat was juicy and tender. The cheese sprinkle had hints of onion and garlic.

Address: 26 Myeongdong 8-gil, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Hours:11:20am to 10:00pm
Nearest station: Myeongdong

 MyMy Chicken

Another accessible fried chicken store is MyMy Chicken and this chain probably has one of the most stores in Seoul (easily within the top 5). They have sit down shops and stores that are just solely for pick-ups and deliveries.


Their padak is the first spring onion fried chicken that we got to try in Seoul. It did not disappoint! Their fried chicken is probably one of the most succulent chickens I’ve come across. The coating is rippled and crunchy, whilst the soy mustard sauce had a perfect balance of sweetness and bite from the mustard. It also came with the usual complimentary mu (pickled radish). The cost for a whole chicken is ₩17,000.

Address: 6-1, Jahamun-ro, Tongui-dong, Seoul
Hours: Hours vary, check their website www.mymychicken.com
Nearest station: Gyeongbokgung


Thunder Chicken

The first time I’ve heard or have seen Thunder Chicken is through K-Drama series “I Can Hear Your Voice”. The place is so popular that the OG shop is part of a K Drama food tour in Seoul. I’ve read some hidden reviews posted by locals within the internet that they have the cheapest and probably the best green onion fried chicken (padak) in town.




We went to the branch near Dongdaemun Design Plaza where we were greeted by a horde of golden crispy fried chicken at the window! No joke, look at the photo!

I’m very pleased to report back that the reviews were true and probably exceeded my expectations. I’ll get to the chicken later. They have more than just chicken. They have Korean staples including the humble bibimbap. Their dolsot (hot stone bowl) bibimbap is so simple but is one of the best I’ve had. From the gochujang paste to caramelised crisped bits created by the rice and sizzling sesame oil at the bottom of the bowl, the damn thing was excellent.


Their padak is the best one I’ve had to date! The sound of the crunch of the coating, the texture of the ripples, succulent flavoursome meat, the flavours, the sticky sweet soy mustard glazing sauce and golden sight of their chicken is what makes this fried chicken amazing. The cost for 14 pieces of chicken is only ₩16,000 (A$19).


Address: Gwanghuidong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul,
Hours: 12:00pm to 2:30am
Nearest station: Dongdaemun History and Cultural Park

Reggae Chicken



If you’re ever in Hongdae and want to try something different, y’all need to check out Reggae Chicken. They have a few shops but we ended up going to the OG store which is quite close to Hongik University station and is very popular amongst the locals. The space itself has this rustic moody hipster vibe. The sitting is quite limited and it’s quite dark inside. I guess they are trying to go for a Jamaican Rasta shack style to the place. They provide you with complimentary curried popcorn with drinks and the popcorn is refillable for free!
Snow cheese sprinkled onion rings


We tried their signature Reggae fried chicken (₩17,000 or A$21), which is a platter of 14 pieces of crispy chicken and topped with potato wedges and onion rings. The coating is lighter than most fried chicken in Seoul. The chicken meat itself was flavoured with spices which is almost reminiscent of Jamaican jerk spice. Flavour-wise, their chicken packed quite a punch. The in-house garlic sauce is quite amazing too.

Address: 317-9 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Hours: Open every day 5pm~2am
Nearest station: Hongik University

Chicken in the Kitchen



I’ve saved the BEST for last. This place was highly recommended by my very good friend Kris Yoon (ex-Edition Coffee Roasters). He also took us here as he highly regards this place. Little did I know that this place always gets raving reviews from locals and visitors alike. Of course, we had to visit the OG store. I must say, this is my favourite Korean fried chicken shop to date.

The space is quite simple and tiny. But the service and food is really good. Actually the food is amazing!

The onion rings here are quite massive but super tasty.


We ordered half & half (₩19,000 = A$23) of their bump of chicken and red hot chilli peppers chicken. The bump chicken is a classic fried chicken with super crisped herbed coating that came with fried onion (giant onion rings) and chips. The coating and skin of the chicken almost becomes like a thick wafer like shell. The meat is extra juicy.

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