So any day or evening at KOFFIA will involve more than just seeing the film. Your friends might want to go eat somewhere as well. I'm going to assume you know your authentic Korean food and where to go to get it; Especially when you think of Korean food you think of a big B, quickly followed by another B and then a Q. But I'm going to look further afar while still maintaining some Korean ties. For those interested in a bit more variety than your usual Korean cuisine, read on. Don't worry. There'll be no mention of Old Boy and places to go eat octopus. Except that one.
Many people don't like the path away from authentic food, but I find it interesting as it can reveal just as much about a culture in the process of changing something to suit someone else's preferences. We're not talking about taming down of Korean food and making it bland and less interesting. We're talking about the taking of a culture's food and having it Korean-ified.The ways that Korean culture modifies the foods of other countries is just as revealing of Korea as their traditional food.
As happens in many countries, international food trends - good and otherwise - have been embraced in South Korea. They are assessed and adapted in a way to suit local taste buds. Korean staple, Bulgogi beef for instance can actually be found at McDonalds in Seoul in a way that might alarm some peole (Pro Tip: Don't bother trying it). Yet the presence of bulgogi at McDonalds informs you an interesting process of adaptation that tells you just as much about Korea as authentic food does.
One might think that the Korean version of this food transformation would be limited to South Korea, but it can be found in your local city if you know where to look. Which brings us to eating during KOFFIA 2013.
Going to see a KOFFIA film at Event Cinemas in Sydney may tempt you to eat something at the nearby KFC.
You need to consider the other KFC. Korea fried chicken is an institution and when it's served with something like a spicy wasabi soy dressing then you are transported to heaven. Try it at nearby Naruone at 375 Pitt St. You'll never go back to the colonel again.
Probably the most interesting mix of cultures can be found at Arisun located at 1 Dixon Street. Check out the magic of the hand towels, but please don't eat them. Savory pancakes, fried chicken (yes, again, why not?) served in a wicker basket, hot dogs and sizzling sausages. And it all feels somehow Korean. Arisun also has a strong Chinese influence so go there if you want to experience Korean style Chinese food in Australia. Get your head around that.
KOFOO - short for Korean Food - is youth-focused restaurant near the corner of Liverpool and Sussex St. It has a kind of industrial feel, without feeling dangerous, with all it's exposed concrete and metal seats. Go there , not because it's great, but because it's cheap. Plus I have had a nice prawn dumpling soup there and it does have some vegetarian options.
All these restaurants are in Sydney, but your local neighbourhood will have interesting cultural mixes if you go looking. It's multiculturalism at its best where you find something that's more than the sum of its parts. It's quite common to see Korean-ified multicultural food for the South Korean based foodie, but it takes a little more digging to find them elsewhere. However they are there to be found and are rewarding for those that look for them.
By Michael Collins