12 February 2013

Paju BBQ ~ Korean - Newtown

Due to it's Newtown address we assumed Paju BBQ Korean would be some kind of watered-down experience. How pleasantly wrong we were. Paju BBQ brings a bit of Eastwood in the inner west.

[LAST UPDATED OCTOBER 2013]



We live within cooee of Paju BBQ in Newtown, yet it's taken us maybe a year to get around to trying it. We've walked right past the place a zillion times on our way to the city to get a Korean feed. Silly us.

Paju BBQ is your proper Korean joint, with DIY bbq, hotpots, noodles, bibimbap, the works. It's got Hite beer and Korean soju at Eastwood prices. The only concession is the menu has pictures and descriptions of the meals to help us non-Korean folks. The staff are happy to explain dishes too.

The restaurant is large and spacious by Newtown standards, it's nice not to feel cramped. This top floor space above Tamana's has had a few incarnations - upmarket Indian, wood fired pizza and now this great Korean. At night it gets quite a buzz going, attracting a mixed crowd with plenty of Korean folks and everybody else. We also like to sneak in for a late lunch when the place is quiet, and grab a table by the window, have a beer and listen to K-Pop.

Best of all, it's cheap! Some Korean restaurants are cheap only if you have a group of four or more folks to split the costs of the pricier made-to-share dishes such as hotpot and bbq. But Paju also has a bunch of main course dishes  around the $12 mark, and $8.90 lunch specials. All these come with free side dishes too.

At the time of writing we've been four times and we're barely a quarter of our way through everything we want to try on the menu. We dig.



Like any Korean restaurant the meal is served with a bunch of (free!) side dishes, which are often the highlight of the meal. These vary from restaurant to restaurant and from visit to visit. Our favourite was the dish on the bottom left which waiter told us was 'sweet beans'. These were indeed sweet but not soft as they looked, they had a nice firm bite to them.

We also dig the dish above the beans in the photo above, which is like a plain jelly. We asked the waiter  what the dish was and he says "Chestnuts". And with a grin he goes on to explain "you get some chestnuts, then you do something, then they are jelly."



On our first visit we get all fancy pants and go for a  $75 bbq combo, to give a friend up from Melbourne the impression that we're not total tightwads.



The waiter does the cooking which is fine by us. We've never seen whole hunks of steak cooked like that in a Korean joint. When cooked the waiter cut the steaks up.



Some lettuce is supplied to wrap your bbq bits in, highly recommended.



On our second visit we try one of Korean favourites: soft tofu stew $12. This is as much a soup as it is a stew, with a mild Korean chili paste flavour, big hunks of soft tofu, and there's a little seafood to give some oomph. One of those magical Korean dishes that is so healthy yet so delicious.



We order Steamed egg pot - $6 because we've never heard of it before.



The menu describes the steamed egg pot as 'stirred eggs steamed and stuffed with thinly diced vegetables." It's a lot like scrambled eggs, or a Japanese chawanmushi, egg-mad Alison loved it.



Bibimbap on stonepot - $8.90 (lunch special price). One of the world's finest yet simplest dishes - rice with a bunch of veggies and a little beef and an egg on top. Add as much chili sauce as you want and stir it all together. Bibimbaps is one of those rare dishes that make you feel healthier after eating it.



Fresh vegetable bibimbap - $8.90 (lunch special price). We've never tried a veggie bibimbap before so we give it a go. Fresh and slightly pickled veggies on rice with a soft fried googie on top. The clincher is a wonderful sweet pear sauce. Yohoho.



Baby octopus stonepot bibimbap - $8.90 (lunch special price). Another new one to us, if you like baby octopus, you will dig this.



Kimichi cheese stonepot bibimbap - $8.90 (lunch special price). Veggies mixed in with kimchi (korean spicy pickled cabbage) covered with a thick layer of melted cheese.

Alison loves to order things that have cheese where it shouldn't be (she loves melted cheese on her apple pie in the USA). Cheese and kimchi sounds like a wacky combination but it works. The mix of cheese and chili from the kimchi gave it a nacho-esque flavour. The thick layer of cheese on top looks all hot and melty, but to our surprise it has been cooled to room temperature. We assume this is to get a nice firm texture to the cheese, we're not sure, but it worked all the same.



Korean seafood pancake - $10. This dish is always a winner, some nice stodgey dough cooked up pancake style with seafood, mostly squid\octopus from experience. This stodge filler goes great with diy bbq dishes.

[BACK AGAIN MARCH 2013]

We come back for a feed and a couple of Hites on a Sunday night and the joint is jumping, it's packed. There's a big table of old Korean blokes having a knees-up, they had flags at their tables suggesting they were former marines. This joint really is a piece of Korean in Newtown.



Beef and mushroom hotpot - $35. Serves 2-3 people, the two of us couldn't finish it and we're a pair of piggies. A lovely sweet beefy broth with loads and loads of many types of mushroom and a few fistfuls of finely sliced beef.

[BACK AGAIN OCTOBER 2013]


Alison has a lunchtime date with some work colleagues and an excuse to go back again. It's the first time some of them have tried Korean food, kimchi is not universally enjoyed so all the more ban chan for Alison. The $8.90 lunch specials are such a bargain and you still get served the wonderful side extras.



Pork Bibimbap in Stone Pot - $8.90. A good twist on the beef favourite, with a chilli flavoured pork. Keep some of the pork close to the hot bowl edge for extra crisp bits.



Chicken Bibimbap in Stone Pot - $8.90. Cubes of chicken, all the same other bibimbap goodness.



Stir fried rice with beef bulgolgi $8.90. For a non vegetable eater, this was as next to veggie free as the lunch time menu had, there was also beef or pork bulgolgi with a side of rice. Not eating vegetables meant more kimchi, pickled radish and broccoli and chilli for the rest of us!



Paju Korean BBQ Menu - click to expand...


Paju Korean BBQ Menu - click to expand...


Paju Korean BBQ Menu - click to expand... Please note the beef sashimi doesn't come with real Nazi, it comes with fake Nazi made of nashi pear.


Paju Korean BBQ Menu - click to expand...


Paju Korean BBQ Menu - click to expand...


Paju Korean BBQ Menu - click to expand...


Paju Korean BBQ Menu - click to expand...



Paju BBQ Korean Restaurant is at Level 1 (upstairs) 196 King St Newtown. Phone 9517 2772.

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4 comments:

  1. Love Korean BBQ and the bibimbaps look super rad here!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Alison I love cheese and apple toasted sandwiches, always a great combo!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been meaning to check out this place, your review is now my clincher. Thank you!!! More newtown reviews please?

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  4. I've had two different experiences at this place. The first time a few mths back the bbq meat and condiments were plentiful. The second time roughly 3 weeks later they were stingy on both meat (it seemed like 70% of what they gave the 1st time) and on condiments (basically only gave half the variety and size of the first time). Normally I would complain about it but the kids that wait the place clearly have a care factor of zero. I think Newtown is need of another Korean joint to shake this place up.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great nom noms that come along with it. Think Maeve O'Meara, not Masterchef :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (although sometimes our Mum shouts us).