September 19, 2010

Ma Ba Sa

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!

Ma Ba Sa-1

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.
Ma Ba Sa-2
Jjim Mahn Du - Steamed dumplings (pork & vegetables) - $7

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.

Ma Ba Sa-3
Kun Mahn Du - Pan-fried dumplings (pork & vegetables) - $7

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.

Ma Ba Sa-4
Assortment of complimentry side dishes

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

Ma Ba Sa-5
Dolsot Bi-Bim-Bap - $15

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!

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Chicken Teriyaki - $14

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.

Ma Ba Sa-7
Sam-Gye-Tang - Stuffed baby chicken soup with sticky rice & ginseng - $22

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)

Ma Ba Sa-8
Kim-Chi Dduk Jeongol - Spicy Kim-Chi & rice-cake stew with pork & veggies - $38

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.

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Sponge Cake ice cream - $5

The 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.

Ma Ba Sa-22
Rice cake Ice cream - $5

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


  1. I always like a hotpot when eating Korean, which is why I often crave it when it's cold. Love how the desserts are liberally drizzled with chocolate sauce!

  2. Ooh, nice one! Glad you tried so many dishes. I picked up a menu from them a while ago so I could choose the dishes before visiting. Love your photos of the food.

  3. Nice pictures :) That is one unusual looking dessert!

  4. Will have to drop in for some biddy ba ta soon!!

  5. I love the ginseng chicken dish and bibimbap. Looks like you tried a nice range of food there!

  6. the sponge ice cream looks so cute cut up like that!

  7. Wow, everything looks fabulous...would love to try the rice cake ice cream...yummie!

  8. Very interesting place. Love the desserts!

  9. I still haven't had authentic Korean, so I'll keep this restaurant in mind :-) The desserts look terrific!

  10. Many thx Rhonda.
    This is greattttttt =)


  11. I love this place! It is like 10 minutes from my place and I was there twice last week.

  12. I've been meaning to head over to Ma.Ba.Sa since I got their email saying they'd reopened. We used to do dinner there almost every Friday night - love their giant hotpot stew dishes :) Now I'll definitely have to make the trek!

  13. as a very recently diagnosed coeliac ma ba sa [i'm assuming it was kenny] was firstly knowledgeable about eating gluten free and second extremely willing to help me out with gluten free menu options - very much appreciated. i ate with confidence and had a delicious fresh meal.

    rhonda, i've link to this great blog post of yours in a blog post i did that referenced my dining ma ba sa for a slightly different reason :-)


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