Sang by Mabasa is a Korean restaurant on Fitzroy Street in Surry Hills. The menu is a Choose Your Adventure style of food - it can be as regular Korean or as interesting as you would like. It's the second eatery from the people at Mabasa restaurant in Balmain.
"Wow you like very...challenging food," our waitress says to Sofia and I. Sofia is one of my friends I would entrust to order food. Not that I couldn't trust everyone but I know that I definitely couldn't trust Mr NQN to order (otherwise we'd just get fruit salad!). But Sofia and I met on a food trip overseas and we were the two crazy food writers with an insatiable appetite. She chose Sang by Mabasa for our catch up.
It's located on Fitzroy Street, next to KonaKara the Japanese restaurant and the signage is subtle. Service is really sweet and friendly and there's an interesting mix of drinks. Sofia orders a soju and tonic while I go for a soothing tea. There are two types of tea and I order the Doaji Cha with bell flower roots and ginger.
Jjim Mandu $14
I'm trying to just have tastes of things which means a few bites of as many things as possible as I have self diagnosed my tongue to have ADHD and it can get bored of the same thing very easily. But I can't help to go back for a second fat pork dumpling. The skin is thin and the filling pneumatic - I mean just look at these beauties! The pork is well seasoned and there's also a vegetarian version if you're that way inclined.
Assorted Sides $6
As this is a bit more upmarket you do have to pay for the normally complimentary banchan or side dishes. It's tasty spicy fish cakes, bean sprouts and seaweed.
I have to admit that I didn't really go for the mung bean pancake. It's thick and dense with lots of vegetables and spring onions on top as well as shreds of dried chilli. I think I was hoping for a super light, crispy Korean pancake.
Gu Jeol Pan $34
However one of my favourite items is the Gu Jeol Pan. It's best shared with two people maximum as the 9 little piles of goodies (beef bulgogi, carrot, mushroom, purple carrot, egg) are quite small but the beetroot and rice flour mini pancakes are spongy and delicious. It comes with a honey mustard mayonnaise. I follow one wrap with another immediately.
Yangnyeom Saewoo Jang $32
Our waitress was slightly worried with us ordering this dish because the prawns are raw and very spicy but we both confirm that both are totally fine for us. This is not a dish for those that can't take hot chilli as it packs heat. It's soy preserved, spicy marinated raw king prawns, Korean watercress and spring onion. I love the creamy texture of raw prawns and the resolute hit of chilli that gives me life.
Chwinamul Dolsot Bap $23
Sofia and I both have difficulty pronouncing Chwinamul so our adorable waitress gives us a mini lesson (tip: don't pronounce the w). The Chwinamul dolsot bap has a range of ingredients including aster scaber (a herb), perilla seeds and pickled radish although it seems like mostly rice. It comes with a little pot of pickled chilli sauce but I actually prefer this with the spring onions and chilli from the prawn dish above to give it some pep.
Ice Creams $12
There are two flavours of ice cream on the menu. The first is a creamy mixed grain or cereal ice cream, very mildly sweetened and more of a comforting sort of thing. The cinnamon sorbet is strong in cinnamon and very fragrant. It tastes like apple and cinnamon although I don't know if that is because apples and cinnamon are always intertwined!
The Kkwabaegi are twisted sourdough donuts sprinkled with super fine brown sugar with a sweet vanilla cream. These are freshly fried and have a markedly sour taste that is balanced with the sugar fall on top and the sweet and very vanillaey cream on the side.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you eat much raw seafood? What food gives you life? Do you choose safer or more adventurous food?
This meal was independently paid for.
Sang By Mabasa
98 Fitzroy St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tuesday to Saturday 11:30am–3pm, 5:30–10pm
Sunday 11:30am–3pm, 5:30–9pm
Phone: (02) 9331 5175