I have to say, this little Korean restaurant and I have history. Not long ago it used to be situated along Pitt Street just opposite the Art House/Galleries Victoria, except, it was operating under a different name (Hancook). Mum was the one who first introduced me to this little gem, back then she used to always visit it after one of her gym sessions. When we heard that they had to close due to repossession we were devastated… “where am I gonna get my hot pot from now?? OMG!” … but never fear for …*drum roll please*.. I introduce to you… the new and improved Ma Ba Sa!
The new restaurant is now located comfortably along the other eateries on Darling Street in Balmain. Upon walking into this cute little restaurant I get a really cozy feeling, it is stylishly decorated with indoor and outdoor seating…but, the best part about it is, the food is still just as good!!
First glance at the menu and I was able to spot the new additions already..such as the steamed dumplings. These were so good! The skin was thin and soft and the meat inside was nice and juicy.
An old favourite and a dish I get everytime I go there are the pan fried dumplings. These are what fried dumplings should be. They're different to the Chinese style fried dumplings (Wor Tip), where it can be soft on one side and just slightly fried on the other with a big chunk of meat inside. These are thin with a serious crunch to it, yet the inside is still nice and juicy - not dry at all. It also goes so well with the soy/vinegar sauce served with it.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Korean restaurant without the complimentary side dishes. These included Kim-Chi, pickled vegies (bean sprouts, spinach & potato) and fried fish cake.
To start the mains we ordered the Bi-Bim-Bap, which is a rice dish topped with a selection of ingredients such as pickled carrots, bean sprouts, spinach, cucumbers & mince. To eat it you need to mix all the ingredients together in the bowl and if you like, add a little of the mild chilli sauce (its not hot.. more on the sweet side). I love having it in the stone pot because it sort of burns the rice which adds that awesome crunch! mmMMm
My brothers favourite is the Chicken Teriyaki. The chicken is deep fried then tossed into the teriyaki sauce with the vegetables, it is served on a sizzling plate which smells so awesome when they bring it out!
Dad's favourite is the Ginseng Chicken. This is such a comforting dish, its a whole baby chicken stuffed with sticky rice in a clear sweet chicken ginseng broth.
Now... the dish I want to talk about (my favourite) is the Kim-Chi hot pot/stew. I get alot of cravings for different types of food but this is a recurring favourite. Inside the hot pot is Kim-Chi (duh), pork, veggies & rice cake (aka nian gao - made from glutinous rice flour, it is another type of "noodle" except it comes in different shapes/sizes - sometimes like oval discs or long cylinders. It has a soft, chewy type of texture, which really gets my appetite going). I also like to add extra ramen too!! This dish bursts with flavour and has a lovely bite to it. On cold days or even when I'm down this dish always hits the spot. (Btw, incase you're wondering, I didn't eat the whole thing myself, its a pot for 2... or in our case 3)
By this time I am stuffed, but there is always room for dessert, right? ...Also new on the menu are the Ice cream "sandwiches" & Rice cake icecream.
Sponge Cake ice cream - $5The sandwiches were delicious! The sponge on either side of the vanilla icecream were so incredibly light and soft and the chocolate sauce absolutely topped it off.
These are parcels of icecream wrapped in rice cake. Not too sure what flavour the rice cake was but I did detect a hint of green tea. The rice cake was a little harder than usual but the more you ate it the more you wanted... its weird, maybe its the whole chewy effect? lol!
Ma Ba Sa
Shop 2, 390 Darling Street
Ph: 9555 6621