Finding sake in Taree, in the unassuming Centerpoint Arcade almost had me raising two hands to clap.
Even my dining companion, who is fond of saying they built the Taree bypass for a reason, seemed excited.
This restaurant may very well surpass all others in this riverside town (located in the picturesque Manning Valley) whose biggest (and arguably most dubious) claim to fame is using an 1876 Protestant Hall as a BWS.
While introducing the residents of Taree to Korean and Japanese dishes may take time, I can’t think of an easier way into loving Korean cuisine than a steaming bowl of Bibimbap ($15). With a name that literally means ‘to mix rice’, this combination of rice, grilled marinated beef (bulgogi), assorted vegetables and an egg, eats best well stirred with a liberal helping of chilli sauce (gochujang) that’s supplied separately. While I prefer my bimimbap served dolsot (in a hot stone bowl) with a raw egg, I found this fried egg version flavoursome and filling.
From the Japanese end of the menu, your warming whole-meal-in-a-bowl option is the Tonkotsu Ramen ($15). This noodle soup is made with a boiled pork bone broth, giving it a milky, golden colour. It leaves a slight sheen of gelatin on your lips as you slurp it, and is topped with marinated eggs, crisp nori (seaweed) strips, slices of roast pork (chashu) and eye-catching naruto maki, a spiral fish paste roll with a distinctive pink swirl.
Bigger eaters might need to add on one of Sydney’s favourite Asian street food – Bao ($5/each). These soft, sweet steamed buns are filled here with either pork belly, or crunchy crumbed chicken katsu, and while the buns are a little on the sticky side, they’re just as tasty as their city-dwelling cousins.
Washing them down with the aforementioned Hakushika Sake ($13.80/288ml) or a Yenda Pale Ale ($5.90/330ml) I'm certainly thankful that these popular 'city foods' have finally hit Taree.
Shop 1, Centerpoint Arcade, 153-157 Victoria Street, Taree
Ph: (02) 6552 6823