In suburbs populated by many Koreans, there are generally an abundance of Korean restaurants. Strathfield is one of these suburbs. There are Korean restaurants to be found on every corner of every street. Jang Ta Bal is a popular Korean BBQ restaurant situated on The Boulevarde, near the Commonwealth Bank. Jang Ta Bal is a Korean BBQ, meaning that it is a DIY style eatery, which allows you to cook your own meat just the way you like it. In addition to this, there are also meals available that are cooked by the chefs.
Raw Beef Salad, the Korean variation of Steak Tartare - a classic dish, though not suitable for picky eaters.
The restaurant is comprised of a cosy wooden interior. All the tables are wooden, with round charcoal grills built into the centre for cooking meat.
Outdoor section of Jang Ta Bal]
Jang Ta Bal is also split into two sections: an outdoor, as well as an indoor one which provides convenience for both smokers and non-smokers.
Jang Ta Bal's street sign
Shortly after ordering, a waiter arrives with several complimentary side dishes; a perk that mostly all Korean restaurants serve.
Complimentary side dishes that are a delight for all
Included with our side dishes are seaweed salad; chilli crab; seasoned bok choy; raw onions in a tangy sauce (used as a dipping sauce); mashed potato, and a salad with dressing. The array of side dishes are always a pleasing appetiser, and a good way to fill up before the main attractions arrive. My favourite side dish is the mashed potato, which is creamy and has small pieces of vegetable mixed throughout. The seaweed salad is cold, refreshing and moist.
The chilli crab is served cold and raw, but can be placed on top of the charcoal BBQ to warm it up.
Fresh Wagyu Marbled Beef, a superior cut for carnivorous connoisseurs.
The first meat dish to arrive is the Fresh Wagyu Marbled Beef ($23) served on a small wooden block with a side of lettuce. All the BBQ meats come raw, and are placed on the BBQ to cook. In this setting, diners are able to cook their meats just the way they like it, which is one of the positive aspects of eating at a Korean BBQ. The Fresh Wagyu Marbled Beef is discernible by its veiny, white ripplings throughout the cuts of meat. For anyone who hasn't tried wagyu beef before, it has a noticeable difference in appearance and taste from regular beef, and is definitely worth forking out the extra dollars for. The taste of wagyu beef when cooked is juicier and richer than regular beef, and is very addictive. Cooking time on the charcoal BBQ is short if you prefer your beef rare like I do. Also, to taste more of the juicy tenderness, leaving the beef a little raw is preferable.
Wagyu Oyster Blade
The Fresh Wagyu Oyster Blade ($27) comes out served on a small wooden block, however I think the serving of this dish is a little small for the price we're paying. However, the price is justifiable with the premium quality of the meat.
Soybean Hotpot with Tofu and Beef
We have also ordered some hot soups to go with the meat, being the Egg Soup ($8), and the Soybean Hotpot with Beef and Tofu ($13). Both the soups are served on hotplates that keep the dish warm long after it has been delivered to our table.
Egg Soup - more of a pudding than a soup, but tasty nonetheless.
The Egg Soup could probably be considered as more of a pudding than a soup, as it did not contain much liquid. Despite this, it is light and fluffy in texture, and goes well with the meat. The Soybean Hotpot has a more traditional soupy texture, and was slightly spicy with beans, cubes of meat and tofu throughout. The two soups provided different flavour sensations, as the Soybean Hotpot was more suited for people who like chilli; while the Egg Soup would be good for people preferring something plain but filling.
Sesame oil and garlic salt dipping sauce to dip the meat in
My favourite dish of the night was the Raw Beef Salad ($25). I found the name of this appetiser somewhat misleading, as it wasn't a salad at all. In fact, the Raw Beef Salad at Jang Ta Bal is actually a Korean version of the classic French dish Steak Tartare. In other Korean restaurants this dish is usually named Beef Yukhoe, or Beef Yukke. The Raw Beef Salad was served cold, with sliced condiments of cucumber, pear and an egg yolk on top of the beef. The beef was top quality, and when the egg yolk was broken and mixed through the raw beef, the texture of the meat became moist and juicy, contributing to the tender flavour. The pear and cucumber condiments also added a delicate sweet and dry flavour, contrasting with the moistness of the meat.
Beef Thin Skirt marinated in Soy-based Sauce. A must try for anyone who loves their marinated meats.
My friends favourite dish was the Beef Thin Skirt marinated in Soy-Based Sauce ($17), which we had two servings of because it was so delicious. This dish was a regular cut of beef, of which was marinated to perfection, and comprised of a mixture of sweet and salty flavours.
Front of Jang Ta Bal's menu
Back of Jang Ta Bal's menu
We had a filling and enjoyable dinner that was moderately priced. The service at Jang Ta Bal was polite and courteous, and with the buttons to call waiters on every table; diners will never find it hard to get service. The restaurant fills up quickly at dinner time, so come early or make a booking to avoid the queue. The food never disappoints, however a downside of the restaurant is that the smoke may get in your eyes and make them water. After dinner, diners are also generally left with the smell of BBQ in their clothes and hair, which may be unfavourable for some.
Meat cooked to perfection on the charcoal BBQ
Where: 48A The Boulevard Strathfield NSW
Why: For the premium quality meats and traditional Korean dishes.
Cost: Starting from $17 for cuts of meat.
When: Dinner 7 nights a week, open at 5pm.