Bite Chew Drink isn’t a healthy restaurant. Sure, there are salads on the menu, but we can’t imagine many people ordering them. It’s the kind of place that serves Korean barbequed meats with milks buns; cheese-drenched pastas with Korean chilli sauce; and potato gratin topped with a literal tower of pork belly, jalapeños and fried rice.
It sounds crazy and it kind of is. Not just because it’s ridiculously hearty, but because there’s nothing else really like it. “Look at the Asian restaurant scene, a lot of it has been localised,” says owner Jae Kim. “Like Thai – there are a lot of takes on it. [Korean] hasn't really taken off like that. We wanted to steer away from traditional Korean and make it a bit more modern.”
Kim and his partner, head chef Lily Yang, are not the only people to do this (Moon Park and Kim are good examples) but this is a different style. Instead of delicate deconstructions and intricate reinterpretations, this is fusion in its most basic and accessible form. Take the Korean-American barbeque – an enormous platter with crispy-skin Korean fried chicken; sticky and spicy Korean ribs; fried pork belly; pickles; various homemade chilli sauces; fries; and milk buns to stuff it all in. One of the pastas has both a carbonara-like sauce and Korean rice cakes. Another has a Korean-style spicy bolognese sauce with a huge heap of cheese. Both are served on enormous share plates and come with the option of getting your leftovers refried with a hunk of fried rice.
The brief Kim gave the designer was to create a place where people could relax and enjoy the food. The result is a teenage-movie party vibe with dark walls, house music, a semi-open kitchen and a backdrop artwork depicting a line of sturdy Korean blokes holding liquor, lamb legs, skillets and a butcher’s knife. “Life’s short, enjoy every bite,” it reads.
The only thing it really shares with traditional Korean restaurants is that pretty much everything is designed to share, and to have a drink with. Bite Chew Drink doesn’t have its liquor licence approved yet, so until its Korean-style cocktail menu kicks in you’ll have to BYO.
Bite, Chew, Drink
Shop 9.08 Regent Place, 501 George Street, Sydney
(02) 8957 8227