Looking for a true taste of Asia? Let Banchan transport you to the streets of Seoul. Here’s where you can try Korean food that’s unapologetically honest and genuine.
Restaurant name: Banchan Korean Restaurant
Address: Corner of 10th Street and Elizabeth Avenue, Parkmore, Sandton
Phone number: 072 913 3269
Opening times: Mondays to Wednesdays, 11:30am to 3pm and 4:30pm to 9:30pm; Thursdays to Fridays, 11:30am to 9:30pm
Average price of a main course: R145
Parking situation: Ample street parking during the day
Food type: Asian
Best for: A first date or a catchup with close friends who enjoy sharing
This family-run restaurant is a hidden gem in the business hub of Sandton and a hotspot for any lover of Korean food. The menu is a delicious compilation of popular dishes like jeon (savoury pancake), mandoo (dumplings), mul-naeng-myun (cold buckwheat noodles) and Korean fried chicken and barbecue. The indoor tables are fitted with grills where diners get to cook their own barbecue. The kitchen team make their own kimchi and tofu, which adds another layer of authenticity to the offering.
Portions are generous and, if you enjoy sharing plates, this is the perfect place to do just that. Start with a selection of steamed dumplings that come with a spicy dipping sauce and a side of kimchi, wilted greens and a small gyeran-mari (rolled omelette). For a vegetarian option, try the “tofu kimchi”, pan-fried tofu slices topped with kimchi that’s been cooked with aubergine pieces. A bite of the crispy coating gives way to a soft and delicate mouthful of tofu. For mains, you can’t go wrong with bulgogi bibimbap (rice served with pan-fried vegetables and thin slices of marinated meat). Don’t leave without ordering a portion of bingsu, a special shaved ice dessert that awakens your senses with its chilly temperature and interesting “snowy” texture on the tongue. The presentation of the food belies the quality of each dish and you’ll be pleased to notice many Korean accents at neighbouring tables – a clear indication that what Banchan offers is culturally embraced.
The drinks menu is varied with options that stretch from cooldrinks and coffee to spirits, local wine and beer. Naturally, there is an emphasis on Korean drinks featuring the likes of soju and makkeolli, a traditional fermented rice wine. All the South African wines listed are available by the glass at reasonable prices and, if you’re wanting to splash out, they have chilled Barons de Rothschild Brut Champagne at R1,900 a bottle.
While the waiters are friendly and professional, the menu isn’t explained upon seating and the service, in general, is slow, as is waiting for the bill to arrive. The staff could work with a little more urgency and intent.
The restaurant space is small and intimate, which evokes the charm and character of Asian eateries. Banchan’s decor is modest and functional, rather than being led by a particular design aesthetic, and while there is outdoor seating available, the atmosphere is rather different. Inside, you’ll find a relaxed and happy buzz where friends chatter and multi-generational families meet to share a budae jjigae (Korean stew). It feels like the kind of place you could visit in your slippers when you have the craving for a bowl of spicy, slurpable noodles.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.