Friday, August 13, 2010

Oh, barbeque time

Barbequeing at O Bal Tan, Pitt Street, Sydney
Nothing warms the wind-chilled face and fingers or an icy demeanour like this sight. Never mind the smoke seeping into freshly washed hair, woollen sweaters and cold dagger eyes, it's warm and there's food - and that's all that matters some Friday nights after a few schooners.

This particular late night, there was still a wait for O Bal Tan and next door Madang, although O Bal Tan was able to accommodate us more easily and quickly on this occasion. It's amazing how quickly decisions can be made when one is cold and starving. Must try it more often at work.

Pancake banchan
And when you're starving, what better than complimentary starters that, like the Tim Tam's of old, never run out. What a beautiful thought it is that a doorbell can bring you food almost instantaneously. These petite pancakes are mostly dough and a bit of forgettable vegetable. Not the best start, but nonetheless awesome when you're starving.

Pasta banchan
Much more interesting is the ice cream scoop of creamy orange pasta dotted with sultanas. It's subtle in its sweetness (I'm thinking sweet potato puree) with spiral pasta providing the substance. I must say I'm more accustomed to pasta banchan in a mayonnaise sauce, but this (hopefully) healthier version was demolished quick-smart, with another order shortly on the way.

Onion banchan
The onion might look devilishly like they'll give you onion breath for days, but they're quite tame, crisply pickled in a sweet and vinegary sauce that renders the onions glossy brown. They may not give you bad breath for days, but still probably not first date food.

Now I'm not entirely sure if the cabbage was part of the banchan, or was a side to the barbeque meats we had ordered, considering we received more than just one of these dishes. The thinly shredded nest of cabbage sat in a sweet vinegar sauce much like that of the onion and was a refreshing and crunchy mouthful everytime.

Seafood pancake
Korean pancakes are generally a must-order for me and I hate to be disappointed by them. This version is delightfully crunchy, quite thin and packed with shallots but a little light on the seafood. I recall some squid and mussels and not much else. Still, it's addictive even when I know it's filling and has carb-expanding powers within my stomach.

Some kind of HOT soup...
To be honest, I'm not sure what kind of soup this was. All I am certain of is that it was hot; burn-your-tastebuds-from-existence hot - this from the chilli and the intial temperature. There may have been crab in it; there was Chinese cabbage and zucchini; I really don't know. All I remember is red hot chilli. Ouch.

Sides for barbequeing
I find that at Korean restaurants, food tends to rush out all at once and thus, filling up a table rather quickly that you have to juggle your Hite bottles with empty banchan dishes and dipping sauces to fit the next thing on. The vibrantly fresh butter lettuce leaves and carrot sticks make it for the barbeque but the cucumber sticks go right in my mouth in an attempt to cool and calm the tongue from the soup attack.

Barbeque action starts
And then comes the DIY portion of the night, which I often no longer choose due to laziness. But we're barbequeing chicken thigh fillets and beef ribs tonight, the latter of which are so oddly satisfying. Must be the gnawing on the flat, thick bone that is such novelty; while the chicken thigh is difficult to mess up.

Both appear marinated in a sweet, garlicky sauce that cooks to a burnt, caramelised outer crust and induce some finger licking. I like to wrap the meat in the lettuce leaves and generally dunk it into whatever sauces are around: chilli bean sauce, garlic vinegar sauce, kimchi remnants - anything goes.

Post barbeque, we're thoroughly warmed - I may have even broken out in a sweat over that soup - but happy and satisfied. Barbeque times are always guaranteed good times, whether it's in the backyard with tomato sauce covered burnt sausages, or at a Korean restaurant with chilli soup and a hole in the table.

O Bal Tan on Urbanspoon


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I always love the complimentary dishes that they give you to start with. They're always so tasty! I love BBQing the meat. I guess we don't have a BBQ at home so this is where I get to do it :P

Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said...

Lol! How are you going to make the cold and starving factor influence decisions at work? Hold meetings out in the cold or demand everyone take their jackets off and stand under the airconditioning vents? It's not a bad idea! I should use it! Maybe you can also make use of that chilli soup as a deterrent - looks tasty but deadly!

Tina said...

Hi Lorraine - Yes, and I suppose it's not only the men's domain at Korean BBQ.

Hi Forager - Well... the air co at work is pretty cold - perhaps I should stop complaining and make some decisions out of it!


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