Ceci is one of the long standing OG Korean restaurants in Strathfield located on The Boulevarde main street. They have a range of hot pots, noodles, rice and wagyu bbq dishes as well as a set menu. While these are fine, they also have delicious cook your own Korean Teppanyaki trays which are worth visiting for.
I had written the strangest note about Ceci in my "to eat" list on my phone. You see Dear Reader I keep lists of places that I want to eat at and each list is based on the area of Sydney (North, South, East, West, Inner West, City). That's just in case I get caught somewhere and we want to have a quick meal I have a list at the ready of eateries. My note about Ceci read, "Ceci, add rice" and came from Laura who finds great places to eat on TikTok.
We walk in and the man is napping in a chair to the side of the counter. Disgruntled at perhaps being woken he grunts at us and we take a seat at the front of the restaurant by the doors. It's a sweltering hot Autumn day when the weather forgot that it was supposed to cool off. The smell of everyone cooking makes our mouths water and there's also the faint whiff of Indian spices from the nearby shops. "This is literally a melting pot," says Laura.
Sikhae Korean Rice Drink $3
The man comes back to take our order once we signal that we are ready. There's a sign saying that they are looking for help and I suspect he can't wait for that role to be filled as soon as possible. I start with a Sikhaye, a non alcoholic rice drink, slightly sweetened that is wonderfully refreshing in this heat. It's very similar to barley water with a malty flavour and it's actually used to help with digestion after a meal.
The banchan comes out and it's half a dozen dishes from kimchi, broccoli with sesame dressing, bean sprouts, potato salad, fish cakes and macaroni & corn salad. It's fine and I think out of everything I enjoyed the bean sprouts and potato salad the most.
Cheese, Noodles & Chilli Rice Cake $18
The menu is huge and between the two of us we order a couple of dishes to start. Usually you get cheese and chilli rice cakes but here you can have them with noodles added. I do prefer it with the noodles for a textural contrast.
Pork and Soft Tofu Soup $18
There are single and share hot pots available and we thought that we'd try something soupy (although I'm not sure why, it's SO hot). There are pork strips and plenty of vegetables and silken tofu in this lightly spicy soup. The pork is a little bit tough but the flavour of this soup is good.
Chicken with Veggies and Noodles $48
There are around half a dozen Korean Style Teppanyaki dishes and beef is obviously king but Laura doesn't eat beef so we go for the chicken with vegetables and noodles. They set the rectangular tray down on top of the portable gas stove and it simmers away. By now the person helping us is a young guy who makes up for the older man's gruffness with a genial and helpful manner and he helps us cook this when he walks past.
You do need a bit of patience with this as it takes a while to cook the chicken through and you have to turn it to make sure that all the chicken gets cooked properly because the heat is confined to the round ring of flames and the tray is larger than this. But once it is cooked it is incredibly delicious. The chicken thigh remains tender and juicy and the sweet potato noodles and vegetables get cooked in the spicy marinade too so that they're full of flavour.
But whatever you do order a couple of bowls of steamed rice and once the marinade has cooked down to syrupy add the rice to the tray and stir it to coat with the marinade. Then flatten out the rice with the large spoon provided and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes and then you'll get a wonderful caramelisation of the rice and sauce that is so worth going for. There's so much of this leftover but if you only ordered this the quantity would be perfect for a tasty, filling meal for two people. And the bill is a very pleasant surprise at $90 for two. I even make plans to return with Mr NQN for the beef version.
A few weeks later I go back with Mr NQN, Monica and Marco and we have our eyes set on the beef Korean teppenyaki because I couldn't stop thinking about how good the chicken one was. For good measure we also try the black bean noodles.
I love these slippery, long black bean noodles and this version has pork in it. Monica mixes them up with the sauce and we eat these noodles and the banchan while we wait for our teppanyaki to cook.
Korean Teppanyaki Bulgogi With Veggies and Noodles $48
The beef teppenyaki doesn't take as long to cook as the chicken one as the beef is thinly sliced and obviously you don't want to mess with undercooked chicken. It's delicious with a sweet element to it and the ttebokki, noodles and vegetables make it a complete meal. The only thing that didn't work as well was adding the rice as they turned our gas off while Monica was trying to caramelise the rice as they were concerned that we were going to set something on fire or move the tray off the heat so we didn't quite get the same caramelisation as we did with the chicken. And although it is designed for 2 people, all 4 of us had it along with the noodles, banchan and rice and there was plenty of food. This also left room for us to go to nearby Cafe Crop for bingsu for dessert!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have a list of places to eat at? Have you ever tried Korean teppanyaki and if so what did you think of it?
This meal was independently paid for.
37 The Boulevarde, North Strathfield NSW
open 7 days 1pm-12am
Phone: 0418 212 238