"Korean Mexican huh? So is that a thing now?" my friends said when I suggested Ko & Co in Surry Hills for a Friday night out. It's a smallish Soju bar located on Hunt Street in Surry Hills right near Shortgrain and Longrain. I was warned by another friend that the liveliest night to go would be Friday and to get there before 7pm.
Mr NQN and I head there at 6.30pm ready to hold a table for Nick and Belinda who are battling cross city Friday night traffic. A friendly host greets us at the door and offers us a seat at the window for the moment while a larger table frees up. The decor is made up of wall murals, a bar to the right and tall bar stools with cow hide covers and lower tables along the left hand side.
The after work crowd is young, friendly and very Surry Hills as opposed to the suit wearing CBD crowd. The owner Frank brings plates to the tables and we see a lot of burritos and fried chicken coming out. His business partner is formerly of Merivale and he helped set up the bar. We ask him about the name and he explain that the "Ko" is from the word Korea and the "Co" is from Mexico.
Cold Press Fruit Soju $9
While waiting we sip on cold pressed juice soju. The watermelon soju is dangerously drinkable and refreshing tasting of fresh watermelon with an alcoholic after kick to every sip. They offer us bowls of tasty chilli furikake dusted crispy corn chips. Over the next hour Belinda and Nick arrive, exhausted from the rain and their search for a park. They definitely need a cocktail.
Yuzu margarita $16, Cass Korean beer $8 and Black Raspberry Bramble $16
Belinda's yuzu margarita, the house special is fantastic. With the citrus tart tang of yuzu fruit it made with tequila and honey yuzu tea shaken with lime juice. Nick's drink is made with Bokbunja, a Korean black raspberry wine. It is mixed with gin and lemon juice and packs a real punch. Out of the two the margarita was my favourite but I am a lightweight when it comes to cocktails.
Going up to the bar to order food there's a girl sitting on a bar stool that overhears my order which is pretty much "one of everything please" because it's a fairly compact menu. "I think your life could be quite happy without the quesadilla," she drawls and we get to talking about the food while I order. The choices are tacos, burritos and sliders with a choice of four fillings: spicy pork belly, beef short ribs, Korean fried chicken and spicy tofu.
Chilli Edamame $5
The chilli edamame are good although we should have probably these while we were waiting because once the rest of the food hit, these were pretty much ignored in favour of other goodies.
Taco with spicy pork belly $6
Oops! I only ordered one taco. It's a soft corn taco filled with coleslaw and chunks of sweet, spicy pork belly. The pork belly is tasty and moreish and I would have liked to have tried it in the slider or burrito too.
The burrito is filled with rice and we chose the beef short rib for this. With rice filled burritos, usually sour cream or guacamole relieves the dryness from the amount of rice. There isn't any in here so it's a touch dry but a bit of Sriracha helps.
The girl at the bar was right. We could have done without the quesadilla. We ordered it to try the kimchi but it's very thin and filled with the house made kim chi and a tiny amount of three cheese. The balance of flavours isn't quite to our taste and we mostly leave this.
Korean Fried Chicken $14
We all loved the Korean fried chicken however which is so crispy and delicious that I wish we had ordered two serves. The boneless pieces of chicken are juicy and moist and are barely coated in a light flour coating that gives Korean fried chicken that distinct crispiness. The flavour is similar to a chicken karaage but the crispiness is key and it has a similar crispiness to BonChon fried chicken.
Sliders $10 for 2
They were out of spicy tofu as the vegetarian filling but the substitute was mixed mushrooms. The brioche buns are excellent - soft and slightly sweet and the mixed mushroom filling, coleslaw and kim chi mayo makes it a very tasty vegetarian option.
Dessert tortilla $7
We were a little perplexed by this. Alas the look of it prompted some sniggers (by Nick and Mr NQN!). It is said to be filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and pistachio but it tasted like sweetened condensed milk or a light honey. I didn't get the cinnamon or pistachio at all. Alas they were out of the sticky rice ball dessert.
Yep Korean and Mexican. Now it's definitely a thing...
So tell me Dear Reader, do you prefer to arrive early to get a table or would you rather eat later and put your name down on a wait list? And do you like fusions of cuisines?
This meal was independently paid for.
Ko & Co
6 Hunt St, Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia 2010
Tel: +61 (0) 428 944 741
Mon: 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tue - Thu: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm - 12:00 am
Sat: 6:00 pm - 12:00 am