When you order bibimbap at Korean restaurant Hansang, a waiter will also bring with it an array of banchan – smaller dishes filled with kimchi, marinated seaweed, chestnut jelly, egg rolls, fried ham, pickled radish, fish cakes and even pasta salad.
Receiving a spate of banchan free with your meal is standard at Hansang, a heaving Strathfield diner (with a sibling in the CBD) that aims to replicate the old-school, home-style eateries of South Korea. While Hansang also does better-known Korean fare such as barbeque and hotpot, too, the focus here is squarely on banchan, broth and rice.
You can see (and smell) two broths – sagol and gomtang – as you enter, simmering away in enormous boilers near the door. Sagol is made with a mix of beef and ox bones simmered for 72 hours. It’s robust, with a cream colour and the viscosity of high-fat milk, and comes with possible choices of beef on the bone, pork or “sundae” (a lighter Korean blood sausage with a rice noodle filling and a slightly jellied texture). Gomtang is a lighter, slightly more translucent broth made from boneless meat simmered over a short amount of time. You might top it with sliced ox, beef knee bones or ox-tail meat.
If you’re early enough (most of these soups are considered breakfast foods), you may be able to nab one of Hansang’s limited daily servings of samgyetang, a restorative ginseng-and-chicken soup. But it’s the ogokbap – a simple bowl of steamed multigrain rice with pressure-cooked chestnuts and beans – that best represents Korean homestyle cooking. When it arrives at the table the lid is popped to release the steam and to reveal a rice-filled cast-iron bowl. Once you’re almost finished, boiling water is poured in so you can finish with an earthy rice soup.
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