668-670 Parramatta Road Croydon, New South Wales 213202 9797 9999
|Opening hours||Mon-Thurs 5-10pm; Fri-Sun 11am-10pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Mastercard, Visa|
PARRAMATTA ROAD. YOU EITHER hate it, or you know about Wagyu House. The Korean barbecue joint, westbound between Scott and Byron streets at Croydon, is just a few months old and brimming with good times to be had.
Our shot of joy starts as we’re ushered into the driveway by an almost comically enthusiastic staff member. He directs us to a parking spot and opens the car door, smiling and welcoming us. A second, third and fourth Wagyu Houser greet us as we proceed from car to restaurant – a big breezy, buzzing space decked out in raw timbers and split in two with the car park in the middle. By the time we take our seats, we’ve fallen in love with the place.
We’re even more impressed when we open the menu and read about how the restaurant sources the premium wagyu beef it serves from its own farms – two of them – in NSW. Staff then butcher, portion, plastic-wrap and display the meat, so diners can choose exactly what they want to take back to their table for barbecuing.
We choose beef chuck tail and cook it cautiously on our hot coal-fuelled barbie. It’s succulent and meltingly good, dipped into tangy garlic and barbecue sauce, and sesame oil with pepper. Smoke from the barbecues isn’t an issue, since the restaurant is all but outdoors, and there’s an exhaust pipe above each table.
The a la carte menu is extensive and the serves are massive. Beef short rib and vegie soup, a house specialty, comes in a deep, wide-rimmed, stainless-steel bowl filled with hulking pieces of meat on bone and a thin but hearty, mildly chilli-hot broth.
Bibimbap arrives at the table sizzling, the hotpot filled with steamed rice, vegies, minced beef and a raw egg yolk on top. Chilli sauce is added, to taste, and the whole lot mixed together. We love it – especially the crunchy bits of rice that have caught to the bottom of the pot.
Seaweed salad – bright green wakame andmesclun – offers a break from the meat-fest and rich flavours, and the dozen sides thatcrowd the table keep our tastebuds guessing, too (these include the usual Korean selection of pickled veg, syrupy cubed potatoes and, of course, kimchi – fermented cabbage with chilli).
The staff maintain their happy, helpful demeanour right to the end, waving as we drive back onto Parramatta Road. Love it!
Do ... bring friends – the bigger the group, the better the value for money.
Don’t ... worry, they’re licensed, and the list includes Korean beer.
Dish ... for the barbecue: any cut of wagyu; from the menu: dolsot bibimbap.
Vibe ... backyard barbecue party with kimchi instead of cricket.