MELBOURNE | Sam Sam Melbourne is one of those places that tend to get ignored my much of the “foodie” set in Melbourne. A place that opens up without fanfare, without a public relations push and without any social media or online presence. One day there’s some construction going on and the next thing you know, there’s a new food venue in town.
Located on Swantston Street means that Sam Sam has the obvious benefit of heavy food traffic and indeed it was while walking past it on Swanston Street last month that the modern frontage and neon lights caught my eye. A few days later I found myself in the CBD with a group of friends, and we decided to make Sam Sam our choice for dinner.
Sam Sam is primarily about one thing – Korean fried chicken. Ever since Gami bought the classic Korean comfort food pairing of Korean fried chicken and beer to Melbourne many years ago, others have tried to replicate its formula with varying levels of success. Sam Sam
On the night we visited the upstairs space was completely full however there were some seats available in the basement level and our group of 5 was accommodated without fuss. Opening the menu, we were faced with a range of friend chicken options as well as a few other sides. On the drinks front, it’s mostly about beer and soju, with some sake and a few other spirits available too.
Half & Half Full Size Boneless Chicken ($33.00)
The fried chicken comes as either on the bone or boneless with your choice of whole, half of wings and with a choice of 4 seasonings/sauces. We went 2 servings of the half/half boneless chicken in order to taste of all the flavours – original, sweet & spicy, soy & garlic, hot & spicy. The fried chicken was moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. Not the best fried chicken in town but certainly acceptable. The sweet & spicy came with potato wedges which we found odd and didn’t really hit the mark flavour wise, nor did the original which was somewhat bland. We all agreed that hot & spicy plus the soy & garlic were the best of the 2, with nice balanced flavours.
The classic traditional Korean vegetable dish served with mixed rice, egg and a choice beef bulgogi, spicy pork bulgogi, spicy chicken or tofu & mushroom is also offered. The vegan in our group went for the tofu & mushroom option. We all tried some and were impressed with how flavoursome it was. Surprisingly something that we’d all order again.
Kimchi Fries ($12.00)
This was a no-brainer. We weren’t going to leave without ordering this concoction of seasoned chips topped with caramelized kimchi, onion, crispy pork belly, lemon zest sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and jalapeno. Our decision was rewarded with an impressively tasty bowl that delivered exactly what was promised. The elements were all proportioned perfectly and the favours worked really well together.
Service was brisk and efficient – we were seated, given menus, our orders taken and food delivered very quickly with minimal fuss. Sam Sam isn’t a “destination” restaurant and it’s not where you go when you want the best fried chicken in town, but that’s not what it has designs on. What Sam Sam is, is a very centrally located, modern space that offers up perfectly acceptable fried chicken and beer, along with a few other items. Walk in with some friends, order a bunch of chicken, and have an enjoyable time. Simple.
209 Swanston Street
Mon – Sun: 11:30am to 9:30pm