Home-style Korean food has found its way to Crows Nest in the form of Charim, a new-ish cosy restaurant that only has room for a few wooden tables and an open plan kitchen which also doubles as the counter. I am glad we booked ahead, because on the Friday night we arrive the tables in the restaurant are already almost full and the owners had to play some tetris with the remaining table to fit the 4 of us in.
Charim’s menu is simple classic Korean dishes with the choice of 2-3 different types of meat. We start off with a Seafood and Shallot Pancake, which is served up a bit differently from how I’ve had it at other Korean restaurants – in 3 small circles rather than one giant pancake. The pancake is thicker than usual and tastes more doughy, but its still pleasantly chewy and the smattering of seafood (mostly octopus/calamari) and shallots keep things interesting.
Seafood and shallot pancake, $13.90 (main sized)
Next up we had the quintessential Korean dish of Bibimbap which consists of a variety of shredded vegies (bean sprouts, carrots, cucumber) surrounding a mound of steamed rice, garnished with an egg with a runny yolk, alfalfa sprouts and some spicy chicken. Although everything in the bowl looks all neat and pretty when presented by the waitress, the point of the dish is to mix everything in, especially the runny egg yolk which acts as a bit of a sauce. But even with the bits of saucy, heavily marinaded spicy chicken mixed in throughout the Bibimbap, I find that it needs a bit more flavour and I add a generous dollop of the chilli sauce which was served on the side to make the dish more flavoursome. There was also a bowl of miso soup on the side which was decent but a bit lukewarm, although I liked the addition of some enoki mushrooms.
Spicy chicken bibimbap, $13.90
I am a sucker for ramen and Charim’s Korean style ramen doesn’t let me down with a spicy soup and a good serving of springy, chewy noodles reminiscent of a better quality Shin Ramyun. We got spicy chicken again as the meat for this dish as we had a non-beef eater on the table, but I think I would’ve enjoyed the spicy beef version more with this dish.
Spicy chicken ramen, $13.90
Our last dish of the night was yet another spicy dish – the ‘Petit Hotpot’ Sundubu, spicy seafood soup served with silken tofu, assorted seafood and a bowl of rice. This is a great dish to share, as there is a lot to go around in that little hotpot. The soup was quite similar to the ramen soup, a miso soup kind of consistency with the chilli paste thickening it up a bit and adding some fire to the flavour. I find that Korean chilli starts off not being particularly fiery, but it sneaks up on you and 3 spicy dishes later my mouth was starting to burn. The tofu helps soothe the pain a bit and the bits of “assorted seafood” are interesting too – I found a fish ball (with a roe centre) in there which was unexpected!
Spicy seafood tofu soup, $14.90
The food is very well priced at Charim for the servings and their hearty, home-style cooking makes it feel like you’ve wandered into a Korean family’s open kitchen for a meal. The decor matches the cooking style, with adorable touches like their restaurant name spelt out in wooden letters on a shelf and cute little pot plants in mini milk jugs.
7 Falcon Street, Crows Nest NSW 2065
Ph: (02) 8041 9261