If you love K-food, noodlies, Sydney food blog reckons 88 Pocha will excite.
88 Pocha is new in the Korean town Pitt street section of Haymarket that’s crammed with grocery stores, hair dressers and of course hip looking restaurants catering to fashion forward Korean international students. Inside it’s intimate, a row of tables, dark wood, lighting directed downward, enough to light up the place and still keep the intimate atmosphere. There’s another level on top, but we’re told the music is louder there.
Folks will run screaming when the banchan lands on the table. No comp cabbage kim chi sides, no pickled sides at all. Just a green salad with a zesty dressing and a bowl of edamame. That’s it.
Sure our eyebrows are raised bordering on furrowing, but we practice equanimity, at least until the mains arrive. Everything is redeemed when the jaw-dropping leek pancake appears. Familiar with the eggy, seafood variety, this flat, green pancake in a woven basket plate arrives and stops conversation.
If you’re not a fan of thick, eggy Korean pancake, this might just be your thing. It’s remarkably thin, avoid of strong flavours until the chilli spice hits the palate, totally unexpected but wonderful.
That chilli spice is a recurring theme, particularly through the stir fried spicy pork belly. This dish appears on most Korean restaurants as “spicy” but is invariably mild. Not at 88 Pocha, the nose will run and the pulse will race. It’s a brilliant highlight to the rich pork belly.
My pet hate of kim chi chi ke (kim chi and tofu stew on the menu) is an overly sour soup. Sure it’s a kim chi stew, but that doesn’t mean your eyes need to water from pickled sourness. Here the sour is down letting the soup’s richness come through. It’s a nice balance that’s not too salty and definitely not too sour. Totally love enoki mushroom.
There’s lots to like about 88 Pocha, we kept it safe but there’s plenty more adventurous choices on the menu, the soup/stew selection is comprehensive including ox blood, ox tongue, beef tripe, spicy chicken feet – you get a sense nothing is wasted, which should appeal to the trendy nose-to-tail foodies out there. The selection of hot pot is mouthwatering too, seafood, beef & mushroom, pork kim chi – the picture menu makes everything look perfect.
88 Pocha is the best new Korean restaurant we’ve been to in a long while. The menu is extensive and we love the unusual spicy zing in the dishes tonight. You will need to get over the lack of kim chi sides.
88 Pocha Korean Restaurant
371 Pitt St, Sydney
(02) 9267 9842