Review: O Bal Tan (Sydney CBD)

There’s no doubt our behavior is impacted by our environment. Our parents were our first teachers without us consciously deciding it. Now that we’re grown-ups we are able to decide which influences we want in our lives. Surround yourself with people you want to be like. Get inspired and learn from them.

Those who’ve read my nutrition-related posts know that I’ve experimented a fair bit with my diet over the years. I got serious about training and eating around 2004 and have been tweaking my food intake ever since. I used to find it hard to be consistent because of my background and interest for food and cooking. But being honest to myself, I realised I was making excuses just like everybody else. It was time to stop day-dreaming about a better lifestyle I’d been reading about since 2007 and get the ball rolling. Time to jump into the Paleo bandwagon and see how it goes.

Even when I’m not 100% compliant I’ve noticed heaps of improvements in my health and body composition. Not being compliant means that I allow myself some cheat meals. They work mainly as a social lubricant and a psychological vent, but my intention is to keep the compliance rate as high as possible.

I joined a Paleo meetup a while ago. We had a wonderful dinner in June at Nazimi. Food was great but for the first time it became the least important aspect of the evening, outshined by the shared information and experiences. I felt like a fish in the sea, except for the food shooting awkwardness.

We met again for dinner yesterday, this time in O Bal Tan, a Korean BBQ restaurant in the city. I almost had a panic attack when I found a business building instead of the restaurant. Fortunately I read the directory, which said to go pass the back door to get to 363A, the restaurant’s address number.

The entrance is located in an alley between George St and Pitt St. I don’t know why but the venue had an 80s vibe to me. It’s not extremely dodgy but not fancy either. We were assigned one of the private dining rooms with a long table and three grills. We ended up using only two because some people didn’t show up.

Ben was keen on ordering the offal plate but anyone else besides me agreed. We ordered the Combination A with beef brisket, beef skirt, beef ribs without bones & pork belly, a Special Wagyu plate and a Hang Jung Sal (pork’s back of neck) plate.

Service was attentive and effective, banchan (side dishes) arrived first, with kimchi, pickled onions, dipping sauces, sliced cabbage, lettuce and carrots, and a couple of non-Paleo dishes: tiny pancakes and pasta salad (WTF?).





Lettuce & carrot

Lettuce & carrot

Next came the combination A. I had the feeling there wasn’t enough meat and that it wasn’t good enough to justify its price. The beef cuts were alright but the pork belly was very disappointing. We noticed the grills didn’t have enough heat and a waitress used the extractor to ignite the coals a bit more.

Combination A

Combination A ($67.00)

The Special Wagyu and Hang Jung Sal arrived almost at the same time. They were ok, too, but nothing to write home about. From all the meat my favourite was the Wagyu.

Special Wagyu

Special Wagyu ($30.00)

Hang Jung Sal

Hang Jung Sal ($17.00)

We got a cabbage refill when we were halfway through our meal. To be honest I didn’t like this place as much as Ssam in Newtown, but it didn’t matter: as before, we had a super interesting chat that outweighed food in importance.

O Bal Tan
363A Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9269 0299

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