Sunday, 24 February 2013

Arisun, Haymarket

Hey everyone, this post isn't part of my 12 Week Food Tour because it was the venue for my close friend Fiona's 18th.  You've seen her in a few posts of mine, she's been there with me through a bit of primary school, a bit of infants school, and all of high school.  She's also in love with food, and we've been on some trips together :)

Also, I've invited the lovely Jess X, the girl behind this caramel slice recipe, to review this place with me.  We're going to do a shared review, my writing will be in black, and Jess' in blue :)  I've eaten at Korean restaurants about 3 or 4 times before, while this is Jess' first time, so if you're new to Korean food, or if you have tried it a few times, there's a review for everyone! :)
Whilst I by no means consider myself to be a connoisseur of fine food, nor possess any significant culinary expertise, I was delighted when Tina offered me the chance to appear as a guest reviewer on her food blog. Unfortunate climatic circumstances (ie sudden Sydney downpour) dictated that a previously planned dinner at Yulli’s on Crown could not come to fruition, however a group get together for our dear friend Fiona’s 18th birthday at Arisun provided a wonderful opportunity to collaborate in sharing our Korean cuisine experiences with you – Enjoy!
The clutter of seats in their large outdoor area

 Jjajyangmyun - black bean noodles $11.00
All snipped up and mixed :)

Having not had jjajyangmyun in more than 2 years, this is a great homely Korean favourite, and I think people would appreciate this dish more once they've seen its frequent starring in Korean dramas.  Definite soy bean paste flavour, and there is something special about this dish in that it's not quite savoury, but it's actually a tad sweet due to the paste. For those who are new to this dish, it might be quite bland and not that outstanding, but it is a classic favourite, and it's definitely something I picture as a staple korean dish, apart from kimchi.  

I’m hesitant to commence by admitting my discriminatory ways when it comes to food, having only sampled a small mouthful of jjajyangmyun, partly owing to the fact that it looked like a big dark mass of noodly mess. I found the taste to be rather interesting, as Tina pointed out, simultaneously savoury and sweet that was sustained in its aftertaste, however proved to be rather monotonous and devoid of different layers of taste striking your tastebuds as you progressed through the dish.

Japchae - potato noodles $13.00

Also known as "glass noodles" due to its translucent nature, these noodles are also a Korean favourite, we call them "Korean noodles" when we eat it at home. Slightly savoury and a tad chewier than vermicelli, these noodles are tossed in vegies so its a great light starter dish.  There isn't a potato-ey taste to them though, which might be a let-down for those who haven't tasted this dish before.  I found the mound of rice to be unnecessary for this dish, as I liked the noodles on their own.

Having never sampled japchae before, the entrance of these potato noodles into my mouth did not set off romantic fireworks and an elaborate choir in my mind. Whilst they were very much beyond edible and had a pleasant taste and combination of textures, I felt like the simplicity of the noodles and fried veggies combination wasn’t anything new in the realm of Asian cuisine, and yielded no striking originality that allowed me to appreciate the dish on a deeper level.

I would certainly have loved it in the context of a cooked-at-home-on-exchange-in-Korea-dish, but feel like edibility alone provides little credibility in the context of assessing restaurant-quality food.

Dokbeokki hot pot - chilli rice cake hotpot $30.00

Given it was quite warm of a day, I wasn't looking forward to the hotpot, but I was definitely looking forward to eating dokbeokki.  This dish is also a Korean street food favourite, and Fiona was super excited to eat them again after having some at our school's Languages Festival.  

Despite it obviously being instant noodles straight from its packet, it's great how those noodles soak up that chilli sauce flavour. The dokbeokki is soft and cooked to perfection, along with the usual hot pot additions of fish balls and vegies.  There is something lovely about Korean chilli, it doesn't spike as soon as it enters your mouth, but it warms a very very mild and sweetly warm sensation.

Upon arrival of the waiter at our table, I was rather alarmed by the size of the dish and accompanying utensils that were about to strategically placed in front of us. By strategically, I mean positioned in the centre of the table to ensure the chilli-infused steam (and gas fumes from the portable stove) would blow gales of spice into the faces of those sitting directly adjacent this grandiose hodge podge of nutritious Korean chow. Not that it wafted, no, no romanticism to embellish this fittingly in-your-face dish.

Despite my slight disdain at the simplicity of the ingredients, the first sample proved to defy all expectation as I realised the beauty of such simplicity whilst slowly chewing a singular rice cake dipped in the chilli soup base – such a foreign sensation, a chilli devoid of tongue-numbing spice,  yet with a distinct aroma reminiscent of Asian food markets and hot soup by the fireplace on a cold Winter’s day. That was the wonder of Arisun’s Dokbeokki Hot Pot.

One does not know where to start when confronted with such a beautiful mixture of whole eggs (I do question why they were not chopped into smaller portions, as it is a rather daunting to attempt to fairly distribute two entire eggs between eight people), cylindrical rice cakes, an array of various vegetables, and the centre-piece of the display: an entire chunk of instant noodles, in all its nutritious glory, a symbol of the love and dedication to quality food preparation exhibited by the chefs of Arisun.

Rice & Kim Chee - $2 a serving of rice, and 2 complimentary dishes of kimchi

Tina did not originally include these two side dishes on the agenda for review, however I found that our sentiments could and would not have holistically captured the Arisun experience if these two elements of our meal had been omitted. The kimchi was exactly what was expected - crunchy and chilli fermented Korean cabbage, complementing all our dishes very well. Having said that though, it is near impossible to get kimchi wrong (unless you are my mother).

Korean BBQ beef stir fry $24.00

I love how you can tell half the dish is pure beef, and that it's not all just vegies. The dish is well seasoned, such a generous serving size as well.

A generous serving indeed of stir-fry with beef at its core, it proved to be quite a flavoursome accompaniment to both the rice as well as the different types of noodles that we had on the table. I could find no fault with the taste of the dish, however at times I found the beef to have been too heavily flooded with the sauce and that perhaps a more judicious approach to seasoning could have yielded a more subtle flavour that didn’t detract from the ingredients themselves.

Arisun's original fried chicken $30.00

Freaking amazing!!! Super duper crunchy, not drowning in oil, so much different crunch to the Colonel's KFC. I love it how the chicken stays super crunchy even thought it's dressed with a lovely sticky sweet sauce. We shared this dish through 8 people and it was by far the best - compliments and crunches left, right and centre!! Get your napkins ready, or lick your fingers clean, because you'll be coming back for 2nds and 3rds with this irresistible chicken. The winner of the night! If there's one thing you return to Arisun for (that is, it's actually really the only thing you'd return to Arisun for), that'd be all the deep fried chicken dish options on their menu, and not to worry, because they have quite a few!

Such a highly acclaimed dish, yet I did not get a chance to sample it!

Arisun, all up, is a place known for its chicken, the other Korean dishes are decent but not outstanding (mainly because every Korean restaurant kinda has those, and they all do it the same way). Decent service, ie it was expected that they'd help us with the hot pot.  I get the vibe that this place is good for that evening catch-up with friends over drinks and deep fried chicken (something that is well promoted in Korean dramas, though they do so with the lovely sizzling beef.) 

Essentially, I’m rather disappointed that I had visited a restaurant renowned for its fried chicken and failed to sample it – perhaps resulting in a rather mediocre review. I enjoyed every dish, but as Tina said, it was nothing more than enjoyable. There was no pizzazz or spark of originality that would prompt me to return.  Service was acceptable, save aforementioned incident with positioning of hot pot, however the layout of the restaurant was not optimal as the tables were not only much too narrow but also did not accommodate for the space required by larger groups such as our own party. I also experienced the misfortune of a smoker seated at the adjacent table ashing his cigarette and said ash partially landing in my wine.  All in all, decent restaurant that serves much as a vehicle to enjoying small talk and laughs with good company.

Co-reviewed by Jess @himalayancat on Instagram

Check out other lovely blogposts and get hungry for some chicken! :D
Arisun on Urbanspoon


  1. haha I'm suprised you didn't eat more chicken here, because that's what they're known for. I always walk passed here, but it's only because I'm on my way to other restaurants. Really need to venture out here.

  2. love the outdoor atmosphere here but hate the smokers too!


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