Waegukin (foreigners) are warmly welcomed into this little piece of Korea that has sprung up on Liverpool Street.
Jangpo Korean Pocha & Bistro is set up like Korean street scene with Korean ads perched over corrugated iron awnings.
Overhead, you’ll find power lines running across the space to fake power poles plastered with Korean safety signs.
There are flashing lights, a spinning barber’s pole, and the counter itself is set up like a pocha (short for pojangmacha) or covered wagon food cart with a blue and white striped awning.
If all this doesn’t give it away, the menu brief is Korean street food, and you’ll be eating it to a thumping soundtrack of sophisticated K-Pop.
While we’re popping and locking to EK’s God God God, our beautiful hostess gets some banchan (side dishes) onto our table, and explains the buzzer system.
Set on every table, the call button on the right is for food; the centre button is for beer; and you can order soju by hitting the button on the left. As it’s daytime, we opt for less strong, milky off-white bowls of makgeolli. This living Korean rice wine is sold here as Kook Soon Dang ($13) and the slightly thinner, more savoury Seoul Jangsoo Makgeolli ($13).
We kick off with a street food combo. serving up original Gim-Bap and Tteokbokki ($15). With gimbap containing cooked rice (bap) wrapped in seaweed (gim) it’s hard not to draw comparisons to Japanese maki sushi, though with more filling than rice, and a mix of crunchy pickled vegetables, egg roll, and imitation crab meat inside, their flavour and texture is quite different.
As if to further distance itself from Japan, they're delivered with small paper cups of clear broth that - rather than mild mannered miso - punches us in the back of the throat with spicy pepper.
The second part of our street food combination is a bowl of spicy rice cakes or tteokbokki. The texture of these tubular rice cakes is a winner, though the dish wanted for more heat. Next time I’d skip the street food combo and order the Market Style Very Spicy Rice Cake ($13), which is listed with a three chilli rating on the extensive menu.
Korean pancakes (jeon) are also on the street food menu. We opt for Kimchi with Cheese ($20) and are rewarded with a plate-sized red jeon glistening with melted cheese, plus a thoughtful knife and fork to cut it up into chopstick-appropriate portions (see I told you they liked waegukin here).
A generous Half & Half Fried Chicken ($36) teams our chosen snow cheese chicken and sweet chilli chicken with pickles and Korean ‘slaw. Not a big fan of the pink dressing, but everything else on the silver tray is great - well the spice level on the chicken could be amped a little to combat all the sugar.
The boneless sticky, red chook is actually sweeter than our dessert, a complimentary bowl of Patbingsu ($15) or Korean shaved iced with red beans, drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and dusted with roasted soybean powder (kinako).
By the way, Jangpo Korean Pocha & Bistro is just half of a mega-venue that, when combined with their Korean barbeque joint upstairs, is licensed to hold 380 people. Might have to go back to see the rest of it...
Jangpo Korean Pocha & Bistro
Ground Floor, 73-75 Liverpool Street, Sydney
Ph: none provided