Goobne Darling Square
The Goobne Korean chicken empire has outlets in Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and, of course its home, South Korea. There are more than 1000 chicken shops in fact. Its first Australian location is in Darling Square. It's a sleek, good-looking eatery, which plays K-pop on repeat. But Goobne is more casual dining than fast food, and unlike most chicken that comes out of South Korea, here it’s baked not fried.
The clue is in the name; goobne means “baked” in Korean. The powder is seasoned and ensures the chicken gets a little crisp but remains juicy inside. You can get seven different flavours, with the sauces added between the first and second oven bake. The fiery Volcano is a huge hit – a sweet but spicy option similar to gochujang, a vibrantly red Korean chilli paste.
Other options include one coated with a soy garlic sauce and the sweeter yet spicier Galbi sauce. The Deep Cheese is a total curveball though. The oven-roasted chicken is coated in a powdered parmesan cheese that tastes exactly how it sounds. A warning: if you order this one request a napkin – it gets messy.
The penchant for cheese continues with the show-stopping UFO Fondue Chicken. Customers choose two chicken flavours, and the pieces are served in a skillet fanned around a bowl of oozy fondue kept hot by a burner. Health food it ain’t. Korean specialties make up the selection of sides: seafood jjamppong noodle (a spicy Korean noodle soup with seafood), egg rolls, soups and an egg fried rice prepared at the table: staff pours a scrambled egg batter into a sizzling plate to cook, then folds the rice through.
Ordering is via smartphone; customers scan a QR code on their table to access the menu. Payment can be made through the browser or with cash at the counter. A Korean chicken eatery wouldn’t be complete without booze, and like in South Korea the country’s most famous drink, soju, is available. There are also cocktails, the most extravagant being the blue-coloured tequila-spiked Sharknado. It comes with a toy shark that drips fake blood when pulled out of the glass. (It can also be had in mocktail form.)