Restaurant Reviews

Funda

At a new Korean hotspot in Sydney's CBD, the level of creativity is as high as the decibel count, writes MATTY HIRSCH.
Funda Sydney review - Korean restaurant interior and bar

Funda's bar

SYDNEY
Address
50 Pitt St (entry via Macquarie Pl), Sydney, NSW

The first three letters of Funda’s name spell out in no uncertain terms what sort of energy it’s looking to convey. Should they not make it clear enough, the restaurant’s entrance will: an LED-lit tunnel screening aerial footage of the Seoul skyline ushers you in. Sensory overload continues in the dining room, courtesy of a spinning mirror ball, fluorescent perspex panes that frame the open kitchen and a DJ spinning Destiny’s Child tracks at ear-splitting volume.

Simply put, there’s a lot going on at this glitzy 120-seater – so much so that it’s almost tempting to write off the place as a magnet for TikTok-savvy twentysomethings. Peel back the nightclub atmospherics, however, and you’ll find an unexpected degree of refinement and consideration beneath the hyper-stimulating surface.

A left-field gin Martini, for instance, spiked with miso, pickled kelp and fried kimchi oil. Bottles of Burgundy and vintages of Tyrrell’s Vat 1 semillon on a wine list that pays equal mind to icons and obscurities. Service that reinforces a contagious level of enthusiasm with knowledge and attentiveness.

Then there’s the “fried seaweed roll”, which sums up the menu’s modus operandi. It’s a play on gim-bugak, wherein a log of scallop-and-prawn mousse gets wrapped in a perilla leaf and sheet of laver, coated in rice flour and deep-fried. The pay-off here lies in the precision, the piping hot temperature and hearty crunch; how brightly the freshness of the shellfish shines, drawn out even further by a yuzu-kosho and soy dipping sauce.

Crudité with anchovy ssamjang and light sour cream.

If a pattern is at work here, it’s to start with a familiar Korean dish, take it apart, then put it back together using classic European technique and off-script ingredients from all over the map to make it sparkle anew. Note how pine nuts – an integral part of yukhoe, or beef tartare – are whizzed into a foam and used to coat the hand-chopped meat, imparting toasty and buttery character.

Other dishes, though no less successful, almost defy categorisation altogether. Bibimmyun trades fresh vegetables and gochujang for cured bluefin tuna and a woodsy mushroom sauce, resulting in a gratifying bowl of springy cold rice noodles that’s vaguely Japanese. Properly fatty sweet-and-sour lamb riblets would fit right in at any natural wine bar, just as the pleasantly savoury jujube cake on a scatter of kataifi could easily pass for a modern Middle Eastern dessert.

It pays to know that both executive chef Jung-Su Chang and head chef Chris Kim bring fine-dining chops to the pass; the former fresh from a four-year post at Seoul’s two-Michelin-starred Jungsik, the latter an alumnus of Tetsuya’s and Sepia. They may be cooking at Sydney’s loudest restaurant right now, but their ingenuity is generating noise all of its own, nudging Korean cuisine’s steady trajectory onward and upward.

Funda
Korean
50 Pitt St (entry via Macquarie Pl), Sydney, NSW
Chef(s)
Jung-Su Chang & Chris Kim
Price Guide
$$
Bookings
Recommended
Opening Hours
Lunch and dinner Mon-Sat
Verdict
Jumpin’, jumpin’

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