Sydney Madang Cover

Sydney Madang – Alleyway Korean

Blink and you’ll miss it. Well, it’s not quite like that, but Madang is not exactly “on” Pitt Street proper. It’s inside a small (but not dodgy) alleyway that exits out onto Pitt St, so you’ll have to keep an eye out as there’s no banner to help you out.

Madang marks the first Korean eatery I’m to cover on this blog. That’s not to say I’ve little/no experience with Korean food – contrare, I eat it very often as I just love the variety and the spices. Recently however, I’ve had a bit of a dry spell with going to Korean restaurants. I’m not sure why, but that’s why you haven’t seen me cover any.

Until now, that is.

Date Visited: 18/12/2012
Address: 371 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000
Go-to dish: Japchae

I was so confused as to where exactly Madang was, before I knew it, a staff member actually came out and asked us if we were looking for Madang. Looks like they’re used to this.

Sydney Madang

Yeah that’s the entrance. Kind of looks dark (it is), but it’s bright enough on the inside thanks to all the ambient light

At least there’s that stereotype about alleyway eateries being hidden gems – I thought. With that thought in mind, I didn’t hesitate at all to march right in with a hungry, hungry stomach.

Unfortunately I didn’t take prices down (visited Madang back before I cared to note down prices in my blog after requests) and they don’t have an online menu. Rest assured that even moderately budget-conscious people will be able to enjoy a fully-fledged meal here.

Sydney Madang starter dishes

Starter dishes – the hallmark of any Korean eatery

First thing’s first, and one of the awesome components about Korean cuisine. All those side dishes  (banchan) which are, in a way, free. Waitstaff will refill them if you polish off the dishes, so take advantage if you wish. I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend it because you want to save some capacity for the mains! That said, it doesn’t hurt to cheap out a little, occasionally.

Sydney Madang starter dishes

Lettuce…okay

Sydney Madang side dishes

Can’t not have kimchi. Like, literally.

Sydney Madang side dishes

Glazed lotus roots – deceptively delicious

Sydney Madang side dishes

Cold poached potatoes – could eat these endlessly

Sydney Madang side dishes

Absolutely adore strained tofu skins. YUMM.

Of particular interest to me were the potatoes and to an extent, the lotus roots. Kimchi is almost always good at a proper Korean place, so you can correctly assume it was great here too – if you don’t like kimchi in the first place then nothing about Madang’s kimchi will change your mind.

I liked the potatoes because they were very soft and bursting with starchy flavour, a similar sentiment to give to the lotus roots. The glazed texture is great.

Everything else – pretty dandy too. It’s already a good start.

Sydney Madang Haemul Pajun - Seafood & Shallot Korean Pancake

Haemul Pajun – Seafood & Shallot Korean Pancakes

The first dish of significance is one that I get approximately half of all the visits I pay to Korean restaurants. Yeah, it’s pretty much a staple alright.

  • Crispy on the outside, softish doughy on the inside. It’s pretty much savoury crispy pancakes as you imagine them to be
  • I would err on eating these with a sauce, as very quickly they’ll become too dry to eat, slice after slice (I shared this pancake with just one other friend).
  • It may also get “boring” to eat after awhile, but pace yourself and eat other things in between and you should be fine
  • I wished there were more seafood….

What a carby start to the meal. It only gets worse from here!

Sydney MadangSeafood pancakes

Mighty detailed texture there

Sydney Madang Japchae - sweet potato noodles stir fried in sesame oil with various vegetables

Japchae – sweet potato noodles (called dangmyeon, 당면), stir fried in sesame oil with various vegetables

My favourite kind of Korean noodles next to Jiajangmyeon, Japchae is indeed a staple I order almost every time. I absolutely love the stuff, even though there’s almost nothing healthy about it – carbs cooked in fat (oil) which is just fantastic (not sarcastic, but from a health perspective TOTALLY sarcastic).

  • potato noodles will be one of the deaths of me, for sure. Super high in calories, super awesome to eat. The funny thing is that they’re not full of flavour, and their texture isn’t exactly mindblowing. But like potato chips, there’s just something so…ADDICTIVE about them when they’re cooked this way.
  • Besides, those veggies make up for texture in a very crunchy way.

Yeah that’s all I need to say. Japchae – IT JUST WORKS.

Sydney Madang Japchae

Delicious Japchae…

Sydney Madang Bulgogi & tofu hot pot

spicy pork  & tofu hot pot

To round off this night’s two-person feast, we order one of the many varied hot pots in Korean cuisine. I forgot what the proper name for this was, but I feel that the name I gave it is adequate in its description.

  • Korean hot pot differs from Chinese hot pot in that everything you’re meant to eat is pretty much already in the pot. All you do is wait for the pot to cook in front of you and begin serving! It’s more convenient, that’s for sure :)
  • I finally get to enjoy the spiciness that forms such a big part of the reason why I love Korean food. Ahhh, ever so spicy, though it was easily tolerable for me. This is an enjoyable level of spiciness
  • The tofu is not the silken type, but also not the cured hard type either. It’s somewhere in between (though leaning towards the harder stuff in hardness). I’d recommend eating it with the soup often as tofu by itself doesn’t carry flavour very well.
  • Delicious meatiness came in the form of the pork. Whilst not particularly awesomesauce quality (some of it was quite high in fatty portions and rind), the taste was on the mark – the flavours of the hot pot broth were soaked up very well by the meat

Such a hearty thing to eat in colder seasons…

Sydney Madang hot pot

Oh look! The tofu’s got pixels!

…WHICH IS RIGHT NOW!!!!

Madang is one of the better Korean joints in the city. It’s not /outstanding/ in the sense that it doesn’t rise above other great peers, but there is just no way in heck you could go wrong by going here. It’s just great, pure and simple.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three :D

The Good: mmm awesome Korean food at decent prices
What could be improved: overall ingredient quality, particularly that of the meat. Seafood pancakes could be a little more exciting
I give Sydney Madang a grand total of eight Caesars out of ten – 8/10

Sydney Madang on Urbanspoon

5 thoughts on “Sydney Madang – Alleyway Korean”

    1. “Unfortunately I didn’t take prices down (visited Madang back before I cared to note down prices in my blog after requests) and they don’t have an online menu. Rest assured that even moderately budget-conscious people will be able to enjoy a fully-fledged meal here.”

  1. 8/10? You’ve obviously never had a genuine Korean culinary experience before. I am seriously beginning to question the ratings that you’ve given and your credibility as a food critic in light of this.

    1. Hey Mark,

      You may be right in saying that I haven’t had a “genuine” Korean culinary experience before, as I didn’t grow up in Korea, nor a Korean family, nor do I eat Korean /that/ often. However, you are missing the point.

      *Authenticity does have its place, however, it takes backseat to something far more important: taste. If you ate two burgers A & B, and B simply tasted better than A but A is more authentic – would you care? As the case is, it is often that the authentic stuff does taste better, but this isn’t always the case.

      *My scores reflect not only taste (though the weight is mostly so), but also price, value, service, etc. More importantly, they’re reflective of my own experiences – I can only review restaurants through my own lens, it wouldn’t make sense to do so from someone else. If in the future, I happen to have some “real” Korean that happens to be mindblowing, my scoring would of course have to change. But that’s the thing – it’s constant refinement as one adds to their experiences.

      *Most importantly, my scores are if anything, consistent. That’s what actually does give me credibility. If one restaurant is a 9 and another is 8, then it doesn’t matter whether one is more authentic or whatever, it simply means that overall, I like that restaurant more. Your opinion will differ, but it doesn’t reduce my credibility: you would not bother reading reviews that give scores to restaurants if you shoot them down simply because they have a different opinion to you.

      Sorry for the lengthy reply, I just wanted you to understand where I’m coming from with the way I review and score restaurants – and that’s from my own personal, consistent observations; not as a self-professed expert in any particular cuisine.

      Always remember – everyone is a food critic, and as long as your opinions are genuine, you’re always credible.

      Regards,
      Michael

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