SYDNEY | Sáng By Mabasa is a modern Korean restaurant in Surry Hills that is popular and trendy, while also being a small family run restaurant without pretension. The restaurant is run by the family behind Balmain’s Mabasa, and succeeds by getting all the basics, and then some, right.
Seung-kee and Jessica Son do the cooking, while their son Kenny takes care of front of house and interior design.Kenny’s wife, Youmee Jeon, takes care of dessert and pickles pickles, and does Sáng’s graphic design. The first thing you notice when you walk inside is that the restaurant is very small. There are a tables and stools for about 30 people , with the open kitchen separated by a bench full of jars of pickled and fermented goodies. White walls, light timber, and clean lines combine with little touches like copper pendant lights, and custom designed cutlery, tableware and other objects (Kenny also runs object design studio Studiokryss), to create a space that’s modern, chic, and welcoming.
The food here is all about simple Korean food with contemporary flourishes – respecting tradition while modernising things. The food here is undeniably Korean, and across the menu you’ll find an assortment of familiar and unfamiliar dishes ingredients. Yes there’s Korean fried chicken, along with bulgogi and bibimbap, but there are also things like jjim mandu (steamed dumplings), jok bal (soy braised pig trotters), and moon-eo sook-hwe (poached octopus with red radish, coriander & chilli).
With so much delicious sounding things on the menu, it can be hard to decide what to order, but you really can’t go wrong and if you need any guidance, Kenny is happy to help you pick out a few things that will be to your taste. We tried several things when we visited, all of which impressed us. In fact, one of the most impressive things about the menu at Sang is that there are a lot of vegetarian dishes on the menu. The kind of dishes that you order because they sound great and don’t even realise that they’re vegetarian until after you’ve eaten them.
Baechu Jeok, a Napa cabbage pancake, is battered on the one side and fried, and one of the best things we’ve eaten this year. Also fantastic is the Kampung Gaji – perfectly sized morsels of sweet & sour deep fried eggplants that are crispy and coated in sauce on the outside, and most on the inside. Another highlight is the Jae Yuk – melt in your mouth tender, flavour packed spicy BBQ pork belly.
The stone pot bibimbap, with its perfectly crisp layer of rice on the bottom, is also spot on, as is the crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside fried chicken. Yuk Hwe, raw beef tartare with nashi pear, cucumber & toasted almonds, is also amazing. As a bonus, most dishes can be prepared as take away.
For drinks its a single page menu of Korean BBQ and local craft beer from Batch, eight Australian wines, and a selection of soju and cheongju . If you want to bring your own wine in, BYO is offered with a very reasonable $4 corkage.
When dining out, good restaurants tend to fall into one of two buckets – the popular places in trendy neighbourhoods that live up to the hype, and the hidden family run gems that you discover by chance. Sang manages to capture what’s great about both of these, and in the process has already become a must do Sydney dining experience.
Sáng By Mabasa
98 Fitzroy Street
New South Wales 2010
Tue – Sat: 11:30am to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 10:00pm
Sun: 11:30am to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 9:00pm