While the flashier Kensington Street residents like Kensington Street Social and Automata attract most of the attention, there's something to be said for sneaking into Spice Alley for a fast, no-frills feed.
After getting liquored up at a wine tasting at Handpicked Wines, I ducked through the well-lit galley that is Koa Kitchen to enjoy an al fresco meal under the bobbing red lanterns.
While you can move between the Spice Alley eateries, assembling yourself a multinational feast, we chose to have an all-Korean meal from Koa Kitchen.
All the close-by competition means they’ve kept prices on their short, picture-based menu keen; and with the clever addition of half-size portions, even a solo diner can assemble a multi-dish meal for around twenty bucks.
Craving a fast hit of something tasty, we started with some hot and spicy Korean Fried Chicken ($11.90/large) asking them for extra chilli by way of a hyped-up gochujang application. I'm also currently a bit obsessed with Ddeokbokki ($4.90/small) – it’s a popular Korean chewy rice cake that’s served here with thin pieces of fish cake in a sticky-sweet red gochujang sauce. It’s both comforting and texturally intriguing, and goes well with the staple of all Korean meals: Kimchi ($4/large).
To make it into a more balanced meal, we added on a small side dish of Japchae ($4.50/small), a sweet potato noodle dish where the glassy-looking noodles are stir-fried in sesame oil and served warm, flavoured with soy sauce and sugar. The small bowl is topped with thinly sliced carrots, onion, spinach and mushrooms, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
We rounded out our meal with Korean Fried Noodle ($11.90) brought out to our table by the friendly, forage cap-wearing counter hand. Knots of fried off noodles intertwine with well-cooked marinated beef and the same blend of vegetables as our japchae. Served on a paper plate, it might not be the world’s prettiest dish, but with its spattering of dressed leaves, it’s a cheap and filling meal for one in an area where the ever-growing student population means it’s clearly appreciated.
46 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Ph: (0412) 278 966