Jang Ta Bal (JTB) is one of the most popular Korean barbecue joints in Sydney. This is partly due to its history (the Strathfield restaurant was open long before Korean barbecue exploded in Sydney), but mostly due to the rare combination of having both extremely good-quality meats and also a good-time vibe that’s akin to a well-sauced house party.
First, the barbecue. It’s not all 7+ marbled oyster blades and scotch fillets; that’s just the expensive tip of the offering. The student crowd are more likely to be bingeing on galbi (marinated beef or pork ribs), beef tongue, thinly sliced cuts of brisket and some pork intestines. But however expensive or frugal your order, you’ll still get the same JTB-made banchan. If you’re lucky, that’ll include a complimentary serve of raw crab that’s been doused in a chili paste – with that, do what you want: suck the raw flesh out of each leg, or whack it all on the grill, crack it open and eat it.
If you want the full-on party experience – the throb of house music, the chaos of being among a sea of other tipsy tables and the ever-growing chance that your neighbouring table will want to chat – upstairs at JTB in the city is what you want. Downstairs is a tad more demure, as is the Strathfield branch, but neither are lacking in atmos. The latter comes with the added bonus of imbuing your clothes with the aroma of smoked meats, as it’s one of the city’s older barbecue restaurants and doesn’t have any of the fancy, adjustable exhausts.
If you’re after the same quality and range of meat and the same banchan but in a more relaxed setting, try JTB’s Campsie branch. It’s more familial and homey; instead of loud music and loose customers, it’s table mat seating, simple timber furniture and a crowd made up mostly of Korean families.