Good beer, bad chicken

A few weeks ago I got an email from the Malt Shovel Brewery about a beer and food tasting at their brew pub on King Street Wharf. Best thing, of course, was the price: free. I signed myself and Holly up immediately.

The evening started off with a Golden Ale, always a lovely drop, and a bit of a talk from Chuck Hahn. Golden was paired with some pretty good jumbo deep-fried prawns. A good combo, the fruity hops going well with the seafood. Next up was Amber Ale paired with lamb cutlets. I'm not so sure about this combo really being a match, but I like both amber ale and lamb.

The next combo was a revelation. I think the James Squire porter is one of the best beers made in Australia. It's pretty much flawless, getting the critical balance between sweet and sour just right for the porter style. The combination was a cheesecake. I'm not normally that keen on cheesecakes, but a bite followed by a slurp of porter was an amazing taste sensation. The sourness of the porter cuts through the (normally cloying) richness of the cheesecake. A brilliant combination, which I'll be serving at my next dinner party I think.

Finally came the latest seasonal brew, a Pepperberry Winter Ale. Bush foods are something brewers in Australia are trying to incorporate, with varying degrees of success. The Barons Lemon Myrtle Witbier is vile, tasting more like Toilet Duck or Strongbow Lemon than a wheat beer.

The pepperberry is more succesful, keeping the exotic seasoning as a subtle texture to the flavour instead of overpowering the beer. It's a fairly standard winter ale, dark, fairly sweet, heavy (5.2% I think) and the pepperberry gives a warm spiciness to it. The aroma is something slightly aniseed, with a similar slight flavour running through the taste. It's got a very long, lingering flavour that changes as you savour it. Well worth checking out, but it's a limited seasonal brew so get in quick.

I asked one of the brewers when they'd be making another wheat beer. Previously they've done what they called a Colonial Wheat Beer, which wasn't as tasty as I'd hoped but pretty good. I'm more into the spiced wheat beers, Hoegaarden being the most well-known of the variety. The only Australian brewer getting it right is the Snowy Mountains Brewery's Charlottes Hefeweizen. Malt Shovel's Summer brew is apparently going to be a lager, like Australia needs more of those, but hopefully they'll have another crack at wheat.

The beer event was actually pretty quick, moving through the beer and food at a rapid pace. Holly and I decided to wander into town and find some dinner, and we've been looking for a change to try the Korean Fried Chicken I saw reviewed recently.

Sadly Dashi Korean seems to have closed. We wandered all the way up and down the short laneway without finding it, though there's a not-yet-opened restaurant with workers in it, and I suspect that might be where Dashi was.

We ended up wandering around the corner onto Liverpool Street where we'd seen KoreanFC advertised to check it out. The place is a real rabbit warren, the downstairs area packed with (mostly) Koreans, so we were shown upstairs to a kind of covered-in verandah. The decor is, well, dodgy. I suspect the council would not approve.

Anyway we ordered some of the sauced fried chicken, hoping it would be as good as the stuff we've had in London. Unfortunately not in this case.

The batter was overly thick, the chicken a bit dried out and the sauce was synthetic-tasting, without the chunky bits of onion and capsicum. Altogether not very nice, and quite disappointing. Korean food always comes with little side dishes of pickles and the like, and these ones were pretty ordinary too. A simply vinegared radish was somewhat refreshing after the greasy food, but the kimchi was very ordinary and the cold clear noodles bland.

We'll just have to keep looking for the perfect KoreanFC here in Sydney!