We needed somewhere fast and cheap to eat in Brisbane CBD recently and doing some research I came across this place.  Madtongsan II – sounds like a 60s spy password or retro cocktail.  Plus I just like saying it (go on, say it out loud).  Ok, enough about the word… it’s actually a fab little Korean place that we will visit again.

We arrived early so the restaurant was pretty quiet.  We were greeted almost immediately and offered a seat of our choice.  First impressions: a modern style restaurant with Asian touches, pretty comfy given its reputation as a cheap eats spot.  We noted a line of chairs near the entrance, I had read that at peak times there is often a line up out the door for this place.

The other clientele were mainly Koreans – I always take this as a good sign.  If Koreans are eating at a Korean restaurant, it must be good, right?  We made our menu decisions, and I was about to hail a waiter when Sime pointed out the little button on the table (right in front of me… der).  I pushed it and a friendly member of staff arrived within 30 seconds.  Cool!

For entree we ordered a Pancake with Pork and Kimchi ($9).  Kimchi is a famous Korean condiment – pickled chilli cabbage.  Might sound a bit dodgy but is actually delicious.  The pancake arrived and reminded us a little of Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) but a lot thinner.  The flavour combination was delicious, sweet onion, sour and spicy kimchi mixed with egg and pork pieces and a salty sesame dipping sauce.  We’ll be coming back even if it’s just for this.

Sime’s main arrived while we were still eating our pancake (like most Japanese and Korean restaurants I think you need to specify if you’d prefer entree then wait for mains).  He ordered his favourite – Kimchi Chigae, a soup or stew style dish with a fish stock and kimchi base ($11).  He said it was good, just that the stock itself tasted like it was concentrated compared to what he’s had in the past.  The flavour of this dish is normally quite strong anyway so he didn’t really enjoy it as a result.  Good flavour, just too much.  His meal came with sides of Kimchi, fried eggplant cubes and a mayonnaise pasta salad.  We never really get the pasta salad thing with Japanese and Korean food…

My main arrived next – Bi Bim Bap with beef ($13).  Bi Bim Bap is a heated stone bowl filled with rice, beef, Korean condiments, Korean chilli sauce and a raw egg (for those squeamish readers, don’t worry, as you mix the dish in the hot stone the egg cooks).  This was delicious and up to the usual standard of Bi Bim Bap I enjoy at other Korean restaurants.  The rice has a creamy texture which is great with the sweet and spicy morsels of Korean condiments mixed through.  I also added some of Sime’s Kimchi for extra bite.  If you leave the rice sitting in the hot bowl for a while it will actually go a bit crispy too, but I was worried my egg wouldn’t cook (wuss!).

We finished our dinner and headed off, handing over a paltry $33.  Sime said although his soup was too strong he’d still go back, especially for the pancake.  I’d like to be more adventurous next time and try something new, but Bi Bim Bap just draws me back every time.  The service was friendly and efficient, it was a nice environment, and all for a great price.  We’ll be back!

Oh, one last thing: on our way to Madtongsan II, we did walk past Madtongsan I (sister restaurant), which didn’t look as nice a place to sit.  I’d stick with Madtongsan II.

85 Elizabeth Street (07) 3003 1881

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