For a few weeks before our visit to San Ma Ru, my girlfriend and I had been reading about Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Base Stew), well-known for its interesting array of ingredients and we decided this was reason enough to try Korean food again.
Despite having many Korean dining restaurants in Chatswood, we decided upon San Ma Ru as they had some pretty decent ratings. Their version included ingredients like baked beans and sliced American cheese.
The modern decor and bright lighting set a great vibe in the restaurant.
The banchan (Korean side dishes) came out very quickly and we were impressed by the variety and colour presented to us.
Listed clockwise: sweet glazed potato, fish cake, cucumber pickle, salad with miso dressing, kimchi, seaweed salad and bean sprouts. We really liked the mixed grain rice and thought it was a nice touch.
The Budae Jjigae came out warm but not boiling however once the waiter set up the mini portable gas stove, it started bubbling away quite nicely. Immediately apparent was the vibrant red colour of the broth and the trimmings; it was topped with spring onion, kimchi, rice cake, tofu, assorted sausages, bacon and, of course, the ramyun cake and cheese. The plastic cheese and ramyun noodle cake were hiding the more unhealthy ingredients!
Slowly, a sour and salty aroma started to fill our nostrils while we were nibbling the banchan. Soon, the hot pot was boiling and the ramyun noodles were cooked so we dug in!
As we began mixing the jjigae, we discovered hidden treasures like spam, frankfurter, baked beans and bacon. Upon tasting, we found the soup to be delicious and full of flavour. It was salty because of the beef, spicy and sour due to the kimchi while the rest of the ingredients provided a perfect balance of soft and chewy textures. The baked beans helped to thicken up the stew, especially towards the end. The cheese, however, seemed to just disappear into the soup. Needless to say, we were very satisfied after this meal.
We also ordered a pot of Solomon’s Seal Tea. This tea is made from the root of the Solomon’s seal plant which gives it a unique, starchy and slightly sweet flavour. We found it to be a great accompaniment for the jjigae.
I really enjoyed the ambience and modern decor of San Ma Ru. The waitstaff were courteous and were easy to flag down. Even if they weren’t around, they responded to our call button very quickly and were very helpful as well!
We had a great time dining at San Ma Ru and we’ll definitely be back. Next time with friends!