Bulgogi. Galbi. If you don’t know these terms we have to ask you which wok you’ve been hiding under. These are standards of the Korean barbecue phenomenon that has long left that far eastern peninsula to take (mostly carnivorous) foodies the world over by soy-sauce-marinade storm. And if you’re in Sydney and you need an education in sliced, marinated and griddled sirloin or tenderloin beef (bulgogi) or marinated beef short ribs (galbi) then Darlinghurst’s Korean BBQ 1st should be your, well, first stop on a journey of joyful culinary discovery. Found down Stanley Street, a booking at this bustling, smoked-out restaurant is best left to marinate overnight (reserve now, we mean).
It’s great when novices to Sydney’s Korean barbecue restaurants get swept up in the action for the first time. It’s a pretty sensational way to eat Asian – a hot grill slap-bang in the middle of your table, platters of deliciously marinated beef, pork, chicken, and seafood lined up for the frying, with an endless supply of traditional Korean sides and sauces served up as accompaniments. It’s a cuisine and culinary practice designed for table-talk (with a little soju), and Korean BBQ 1st, found down Darlinghurst’s Stanley Street, know their stuff and are eager to educate.
It’s true that the offering at Korean BBQ 1st, like any other Korean barbecue restaurant worth its marinade, is geared to the meat eaters amongst us. That doesn’t mean it’s a vegetable-free zone at this Stanley Street grillhouse. There are vegetarian entrees and rice dishes aplenty, but the focus here is of course on mighty, meaty and maritime BBQ sets, dipped into sauces (samjang, salt, pepper, and sesame oil, sweet soy) and wrapped in lettuce leaves with a strip of spicy kimchi to boot. The service at Darlinghurst’s Korean BBQ 1st is quick and friendly, and there are requisite Korean beers to wash it all down, making this Korean barbecue restaurant a top-ranking option in Sydney.
Loved this restaurant. The staff were wonderfully friendly, helpful and very accommodating. The food was delicious, wonderful seafood pancakes and best kimchi I've ever had, also the kimchi stew was amazing. The BBQ box was novel and really fun, a nice change from a standard Korean BBQ. Definitely will return to try many more dishes.