Roti-wrangling has given way to coal stoking at the gated compound on the corner of Goulburn Street, at the entrance to the busy Dixon Street pedestrian mall. Yang San Park is a Korean barbeque joint with a difference: very good service! The effective all-male floor team quickly seats us. The short menu has a good cross-section of Korean barbeque favourites, but if you’re dining as a couple, consider ordering the Combination Set ($32/person).
As we settle in with a bottle of Kooksoondang Korean Rice Wine ($13) a generous array of banchan (side dishes) are peppered onto our table. There’s the expected kimchi, a ball of sweet, yellow mash, tart pickled onions, and a lovely layered square of chilli pickled cabbage.
A glowing red pot of coals are delivered from the restaurant’s central furnace, and a variety of meat plates arrive – pork belly, ox tongue, thin skirt, marinated pork rib, chicken and beef rib.
Before we’ve even thought about what to cook first, the floor team get pork belly slices onto the metal plate. With very few words exchanged, we work out that when the rotating series of staff move pieces to the sides of the grill, we should eat them. My dining companion is delighted not to have to slave over the hot grill, and I’m equally happy that they also cut everything into bite sized pieces.
While we get stuck into our barbequed pork, individual egg pots arrive piping hot and fluffy, and our team of at-the-table chefs get cracking on our next protein. It's quite the production line, but as your only job is to eat this plentiful feast, it's hard not to feel like a king or queen!
We also learn a lot about cooking Korean barbeque from the experience – mostly to cook things less. Our wafer-thin ox tongue is served just kissed by the grill briefly on both sides; the skirt steak is served cut into thicker fingers that are pink in the middle; and the beef rib was cooked much less than you’d think. Staff also change the grill plate between each type of meat, though the coals are so hot, they last the whole meal.
We’re kept in plentiful cabbage salad by staff circulating with bowls of thinly sliced cabbage and jars of dressing. Dipping sauces are provided on the table, allowing us to pretty much eat them out of spicy gochujang, though if we had I have no doubt it would have been replenished without us saying a word.
It’s a pretty compelling formula – full service Korean barbeque and an alcoholic drink each - for less that forty bucks apiece. We'll be back next time we get a hankering for Korean barbeque.
Yang San Park Korean BBQ
1 Dixon Street, H
Ph: (02) 8283 3276