What sets this Melbourne based KFC chain apart from our usual Sydney Korean staples?
It’s all a little bit depressing when you show-up at a beloved restaurant, to find that they’ve recently closed down! Nooooo! R.I.P Petaling Street, putting on our ‘Restaurant demise’ investigative hats- we suspect that they’ve only been closed down for no more than a week or two, as the pile of unopened mail under the door wasn’t that large. Thus it kick-started another interminable wandering of city streets, to find an alternative lunch destination which appealed to both of our tastes- eventually settling on Korean Fried Chicken at Central Park.
Gami Chicken & Beer is a restaurant chain with its origins in Melbourne- when we learned of this fact we wondered what would stand them out from all the Korean restaurants we already have in Sydney, what had compelled them to head north to challenge the already well-established Sydney Korean dining scene? And I think their point of difference is their youth vibe, for example they serve fries with their fried chicken combos, and the industrial-chic interior of the Central Park restaurant also reinforced this feel.
As soon as the doors opened we were immediately greeted by a friendly staff member (who even walked us to our table), and after a short deliberation we settled on the 12 pieces of Korean Fried Chicken wings (half original and half Sweet Chilli) – $16.00; Spicy Seafood Soup- $18.00; and a Gun:Bae Lager from the tap- $5.50.
And the second obvious point of difference which set Gami C&B apart from other Sydney Korean establishments, was the staff. I’m not sure if everyone picks up on this when they’re down in Melbourne, but I’ve noticed that our southern neighbour’s restaurants are less bound by ethnic lines e.g. we dined at a Melbourne CBD restaurant that served Vietnamese food, where the owners were 2 young Caucasian Australians; while a waiter at a CBD Malaysian restaurant where we dined at before watching a show at the Princess Theatre, he was Caucasian! Which is rare to see in Sydney, up here it’s given that the owners and staff at a Chinese restaurant would be Chinese, same again at the Viet restaurant, same again at the Indian restaurant, same again at the Korean restaurant, while the only uncertainty is at the local Japanese restaurant, as they’re probably Korean. Haaha. But keeping with the Melbourne approach, the friendly staff member at Gami C&B who greeted us at the door, he was probably Latin American? And the polite female waitress who brought out our food looked Asian, but she had an American accent. I have to admit this was pretty novel for Sydney, but very refreshing actually!
The first of our order to arrive was the Korean beer, it was a darkish beer with a light taste.
While our wings and spicy soup all arrived at the same time. Our chicken came with 2 sides- a bitter coleslaw, and sour pickles.
And tucking into our Spicy seafood soup, it was a perfect level of heat- just enough to tantalise your tastebuds, without overpowering the other soup flavours. The seafood was a collection of prawns, squid, mussel (singular), scallops and morsels of fish. The soup was served with a generous serving of Potato noodles- quite thin to begin with, but as it sat in the soup over-time it absorbed up the soup liquids thus our 3rd and final bowl of soup, the noodles had doubled in size by then!
The KFC wings were all mid-wings (quite large in size actually)- the original flavour was perhaps a little bland for my liking but it had a nice crumbly outer coating; while the sweet chilli was sweeter than it was chilli, but it was a good addition to the mix of flavours. Thus this meal we had a good representation from all of the taste groups- spicy (from the noodle soup); salty (from the original chicken- although it could of been saltier); sweet (from the sweet chilli chicken); sour (from the pickles); and bitter (from the coleslaw)!
Our end verdict- 4.0 Stars from 5! (2.5 from 3 for Food (the food was solid, pretty close to being perfect); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the friendliness of service was a notch above what you’d usually expect from your typical Sydney Korean restaurant); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (they played this 80s mix, while the atmosphere drastically improved when a group of 10 arrived- giving the restaurant some added life); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for money (the beer was well priced, although $18.00 for the seafood soup was probably on the high side)).
In the end, Gami Chicken & Beer has managed to set themselves apart from the usual Korean Sydney restaurants, it’s that Melbourne-ness about it which sets them apart i.e. the hipness, the small tweaks on tradition, and that touch of westernisation? Gami Chicken & Beer’s slogan is ‘Just add friends’, this was aptly displayed by the party of 10. Putting on our ‘Dining companion deduction’ investigative hats this time, we think the group of young guys were once high school mates now 7 years out of school (most had girlfriends, one even had a newborn) while they were still young enough that initial table conversations centred around gaming. But observing how they were just a bunch of mates, all enjoying themselves over a lazy Saturday lunch sharing plates of fried chicken & beer, I think the founders of Gami would be pleased that they’ve created a venue where people can come and live out their slogan of ‘Just add friends’!
Gami Chicken & Beer- Saturday 4 May (4.0 Stars)
PH: (02) 8067 0304
Lower Ground, the Dining District, Central Park Mall, 28 Broadway, Chippendale
Mon-Sun 11am – 10pm