Haejangguk (해장국) is a Korean "hangover stew". Read more about it on wiki. I first had this dish in Strathfield last year and it is a really hearty dish, perfect for the oncoming winter. It's very Korean too, you won't find it at any old restaurant - here in Sydney I've only seen it at a couple of eateries and it's always the specialty dish.
And now there's a new restaurant in the city that specialises in Haejangguk. Yay! It's called NARU and I have been waiting and waiting for this place to finally open as I had walked past it many times while they were still renovating. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely.
|Finally it's open! Head downstairs and it's a little piece of Korea.|
It's in an inconspicuous spot amongst the other Koreatown restaurants - you need to walk down the stairs to get to the entrance. But inside is a bright space full of Korean's eating Haejangguk. The menu is a laminated A3 sheet with a few noodle dishes but the rest consists mostly of meat and seafood. The Haejangguk comes with either Short Beef Rib or Spicy Pork Rib. We got the Spicy Pork Rib ($13). It's a big serving and comes out in a hot pot - there's big chunks of pork rib, cooked chinese cabbage, eschallots, shredded fresh mint and cheoncho powder (powder from fruit skins of a citrus tree). It's all nestled into a hot, chilli soup. The flavours combine together and have a great kick. And the pork is so soft, you can't help but try to pick every last bit off the bones. They even give you a small tin 'bucket' lined with a plastic bag for discarding the bones.
|Haejangguk - the tastiest hangover cure I've ever seen and yummy banchan on the side.|
|Check out them bones!|
I thought we should order something a little different to the Haejangguk to try, so opted for Grilled Fish and Soybean Paste Stew ($12). It's very simple, the Soybean Paste Stew has only a little spice to it and is filled with cubes of tofu and cucumber. The fish looks rather plain but don't be fooled - it's so tasty and perfectly fried, not a dry bite to be found.
|She looks a little plain, but mmm that is one tasty piece of fish!|
Last but not least are the banchan side dishes that come complimentary (doesn't everybody just love complimentary banchan at Korean restaurants). These are definitely worth mentioning because NARU actually sells banchan, there's a fridge section near the entrance. The best one we tried tonight was the Kkakdugi (깍두기) which is kimchi made with daikon. It's tart, crunchy, chilli and cold all at the same time, just looking at the photo again I could eat some right now! But funny enough I didn't spot it in the banchan fridge for sale. There was, amongst other things, regular kimchi and white kimchi (kimchi without chilli, apparently this was the original form of kimchi before chilli was introduced to Korea).
So next time you're in the mood for Korean, consider trying NARU for something new. The only question that remains is - does Haejangguk really cure hangovers? I'm not too sure as I've only had it when I've been sober. If anyone has put it to the test, please let me know the results!
What: NARU Korean Restaurant
Where: 375 Pitt St, Sydney. The times on the opening banner said Mon-Sat 11am-Midnight, Sun 3pm-10pm but on the glass window it says Mon-Sat from 8am, Sun 11am-9pm. Take your guess I suppose!
How much: Dishes range from $10 to $45. Our meal cost only $25 for 2 and we were more than satisfied!