678 Korean BBQ
To many people (pretty much anyone connected to Korean culture), 678 Korean BBQ is a mega brand just below the level of popularity of something like Shake Shack (it’s owned by comedian Kang Ho Dong, you’ll see his image all over the restaurant). But despite both the Haymarket and Eastwood outlets being regularly packed, hardly anyone outside of the community seems to have heard of it.
Anyone doubting its quality because of franchise stigma should take a look at its in-house butchery. Most cuts of beef have a marbling score of eight plus and come from internationally renowned Wagyu farms such as Jack’s Creek. The advantage of being a franchise is that all the recipes are just like what you’d get in Korea.
For flavour and recipes, 678 is as Korean as you can get in Sydney. This will be obvious as soon as the food arrives. Many Korean restaurants serve lettuce, mashed potato or imported fish cakes as sides. 678 makes all its own banchan [traditional side dishes], including some wildly sour, pungent kimchi and a thin soup of sour cabbage and chilli that, like a pickle on a burger, cuts through a bite of particularly fatty meat to balance the meal.
There are other options on the menu, a particularly good bibimbap and kimchi seafood stew included, but unless you’re in a large enough group for them to be ordered as sides, stick to the meat and get a cold noodle dish to finish. Naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodle soup) is good to have after a barbeque. After all the greasiness it refreshes your mouth.
Want some tips for cooking your meat? Many are intimidated by the process, so here are some guidelines to follow. For the beef, you don't want it to be fully-cooked, medium-rare is good. After two minutes on one side of the hot grill, turn it over and lave it for another two minutes, then take it off. Pork belly needs to be cooked all the way through, so maybe give it a minute extra on either side. Because 678 serves a particularly thick cut, give it an extra flip so the skin on top gets crips. When eating it, first dip a piece in a little salt. For the next bite, bundle a piece in a lettuce leaf, add ssamjang (a paste made of fermented soy beans and chilli), bean sprouts, a bit of wasabi mixed with soy and eat it like a wrap.