QUICK READ: Succulent meats, half attentive/inattentive service, banchan is 'refillable', reasonable priced for Korean BBQ, popular in Korean community, use of coal and ventilation fans to remove heat/smoke.
Ever since being introduced to the flavoursome food of Korean BBQ, I've been hooked and at times, will crave it for a lengthy period. After reading reviews of 678 Korean BBQ being a favourite among the Korean community and that the prices were affordable compared to other BBQs, I grabbed two companions and headed out for a delicious brunch. The venue was paneled with wooden and neutral coloured designs, with the left wall filled with photographs and signatures from famous South Korean celebrities.
Being the first patrons of the day, we were immediately shown to a table and given menus. As the title suggests, it wouldn't be a proper barbeque without the meat and there were plenty of options to satisfy our tastebuds. Among the three of us, we decided to settle on the Wagyu 8 Marinated Beef Rib Eye Fillet and Pork Belly as our meat options and also ordered the Korean Omelette. After we gave our orders to the waiter, we were immediately served the side dishes, banchan, which consisted of kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), sauces and other various salads. It was a plentiful range of side dishes used to eat with other main dishes and serves to add more punch to your meal.
Cooking the meat is the most fun and interactive experience of Korean BBQ, flipping over the meat every so often ensures the best flavour. Once the meat was done to our personal preferences, we began to eat while adding more meat to the grill. The marinated beef rib eye fillet is very succulent and flavoursome, I'd highly recommend this particular meat! The pork belly was done to its perfection and was delicious. The Korean Omelette was also scrumptious, the dish is served with tomato sauce and you're able to add cheese for extra $2. Whilst cooking the meats, we decided we weren't full enough and so, we chose the Sizzling Stone Pot Bibimbap with Soy Beef as an additional dish.
The Bibimbap (dish consisting of rice and sauteed vegetables, beef and in this particular dish, egg) lacked some flavour so adding the kimchi and different Korean salads definitely spiced the dish. If you're new to Korean BBQ, the selection of Banchan includes many different dishes, but generally, consists of three typical sides. Here is a description of these three sides, there are many more Korean side dishes and of various sizes/types; these mains I spotted at 678 Korean BBQ.
Main Korean Side Dishes - Banchan (Image credit to platingsandpairings, vegan8korean)
The difference between typical Korean BBQ venues and 678 Korean BBQ is its use of ventilation fans to remove the heat/smoke from the grill using coal instead of gas. The temperature is noticeably less hotter than other Korean BBQ restaurants and I definitely like its purpose, however, there are occasionally instances where the smoke will have contact with your eyes. Although I enjoyed the meats, I wished the proportions were larger for what we were given.
A terrific restaurant for those who want to try Korean BBQ at a reasonable price and was a great restaurant experience, partly because of being able to cook your meat at personal preference. 678 Korean BBQ is located at 85-91 Goulburn St, Haymarket and opens at 11am, closing at 12am daily. The experience with their servers were standard; one server was more attentive than the other but, were quick if we politely called them.
ALTERNATIVES: Sydney Madang is also a fantastic place for Korean BBQ for more variety, but is pricier.
TIPS: The Banchan served before the main meals is free at cost, if you finish one side dish, asking the server to refill is also free!
For the most flavoursome bite, take the meat from the grill, add it to the lettuce leaf (arrives with Banchan), then top it off with kimchi or any other salads/sauces.
The waiters are strict on all persons of parties being present before being served a table. I contacted 678 Korean BBQ and asked if I needed to book a reservation at the time I was visiting, they responded it was not essential. However, based on the popularity of this restaurant, if you are visiting at night, I'd recommend reserving a table.
When cooking the meats, be sure to make distance between your body and the grill.
The Bibimbap' bowl is heated; AVOID TOUCHING THE STONE POT. If you prefer your rice to be crispy, leave the food untouched for the next 2-3 minutes (dependent on your degree of crispiness) and then stir the ingredients around. If you don't want the rice to be crispy, make sure to stir everything around (frequently).
The button on the table can be used to call your server.
When paying for your meal, there is a jar of complementary Korean fruit candy for customers.