The Goobne Korean chicken empire has outlets in Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and, of course its home, South Korea. There are more than 1000 chicken shops in fact. It’s now landed in Sydney in what might be the first of many Australian venues. It’s picked the Darling Square precinct for its sleek, good-looking eatery, which plays K-pop on repeat.
But Goobne is more casual dining than fast food, and unlike most chicken that comes out of South Korea, here it’s baked not fried.
The clue is in the name; goobne means “baked” in Korean. “By using powder we can make our chicken crispy – this is our secret ingredient,” says Teddy Kim, who is overseeing Goobne’s Australian launch (former Jamie’s Italian general manager Laura Carruth runs the restaurant’s day-to-day).
The powder is seasoned and ensures the chicken gets a little crisp but remains juicy inside. You can get seven different flavours, with the sauces added between the first and second oven bake. The fiery Volcano is a huge hit – a sweet but spicy option similar to gochujang, a vibrantly red Korean chilli paste.
Other options include one coated with a soy garlic sauce and the sweeter yet spicier Galbi sauce. The Deep Cheese is a total curveball though. The oven-roasted chicken is coated in a powdered parmesan cheese that tastes exactly how it sounds. A warning: if you order this one request a napkin – it gets messy.
The penchant for cheese continues with the show-stopping UFO Fondue Chicken. Customers choose two chicken flavours, and the pieces are served in a skillet fanned around a bowl of oozy fondue kept hot by a burner. Health food it ain’t.
Korean specialties make up the selection of sides: seafood jjamppong noodle (a spicy Korean noodle soup with seafood), egg rolls, soups and an egg fried rice prepared at the table: staff pours a scrambled egg batter into a sizzling plate to cook, then folds the rice through.
Ordering is via smartphone; customers scan a QR code on their table to access the menu. Payment can be made through the browser or with cash at the counter. A Korean chicken eatery wouldn’t be complete without booze, and like in South Korea the country’s most famous drink, soju, is available. There are also cocktails, the most extravagant being the blue-coloured tequila-spiked Sharknado. It comes with a toy shark that drips fake blood when pulled out of the glass. (It can also be had in mocktail form.)
Goobne Darling Square
Shop SE16, Darling Square Building, Tumbalong Boulevard, Haymarket
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on November 14, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.