Noodlies, Sydney food blog visits a popular Korean gem in the ‘burbs.
“Anyoung haseyo!” bellows the staff in eerie unison each time new customers come through the doors. It might be disconcerting at first, but after a little while it adds to the fun of this bustling restaurant.
Jonga Jip is located on the quieter side of Rowe street. At first glance it might look like any other suburban Sydney street but just about all the shops on both sides are korean; butchers, cafes, grocery stores and of course, restaurants. Jonga Jip is cavernously deep and wide. It’s 6pm on a Saturday and it wasn’t hard to get a seat, though come half an hour later and the place is packed.
Yes, the place is noisy when full thanks to tiled floors and other hard surfaces and of course Koreans, young and old in noisy banter.
BBQ is a specialty here and plates of bright red meat and smoldering grills surround us. There are also couples chowing down to a simple plate of kim chi chi ke with a bowl of rice.
Though it’s hard to just have a ‘simple’ bowl of anything given the generous servicing of 10 side dishes which comes free with every meal. The crimson cabbage kim chi deserves special mention for being perfectly aged for my tastes, it’s not tastelessly young or acidly old.
Tonight, we opt for Korean dishes rather than belly-busting and smoke-billowing BBQ to get a better feel for Jonga Jip’s menu.
The pa jeon is a conversation stopper as the giant spaceship sized Korean pancake arrives at the table in a wicker plate, after which it becomes a conversation starter – you just can’t help but comment on this attractive looking package. Thin and crispy, it’s a nice balance, not too floury yet not too eggy, though non-seafood enthusiasts might quibble about the generous amount of squid.
Just because we’re not having BBQ doesn’t mean our posse can’t have gleaming, spluttering meat. The bulgogi (above) is well cooked allowing you to appreciate the beef, in contrast to wetter versions where the juice dominates. The pork (below) is well cooked though given the deliciously fatty pork cut and additional sauces, it’s a juicier execution. Enoki mushroom tops both dishes for an attractive garnish and colour contrast.
I’m a fan of Korean soup and no order is complete without kim chi chi ke. At Jonga Jip, it arrives still boiling with roughly sliced raw spring onions and generous shakes of black pepper as garnish. It’s a rich broth that’s not too sour, allowing you to take multiple mouthfuls without suffering acid-overkill. Despite the crimson chilli colour, it’s a relatively mild soup. Newbies might be more challenged by the in-your-face sweet, salty and sour flavours all clamouring for attention rather than chilli spiciness.
It’s hard not to like this unpretentious eatery; great food, efficient, friendly service and generous side dishes. Sure it can get noisy, but that just adds to the fun of this popular eatery. Oh, and like their facebook page while you’re there for a free drink with your meal – what’s not to like?!
Kudos to Mr Simon Marnie for the recommendation – we’ll be back!
87 Rowe St, Eastwood
(02) 9858 5160