When Franklin Street’s newest resident, Ban Ban, first opened its doors last month it was unsurprisingly met with a wave of attention to the tune of queues around the block and demand that heavily outweighed original supply.
“Initially we knew it was going to be something different but we really didn’t expect it to be that hyped up,” says co-owner, Ernest Koong. “It made us realise this is something really big, that we need to deliver and [that] the pressure is on”.
Ban Ban is the debut restaurant endeavour of Ernest and business partner Darren Song bringing Korean fried chicken to the forefront as its main offering. “I’ve eaten a lot of fried chicken in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, but when I visited Adelaide there wasn’t any such place, [so] I thought it would be a good idea to have a similar sort of food introduced to Adelaide,” explains Ernest.
“We know that there are Korean restaurants that do serve Korean fried chicken as a side, [but] not as the main dish, so we’re trying to do it as a main” he continues.
Joining Adelaide’s swelling west side hospitality precinct, the restaurant is in good company just minutes from fellow newcomers Shibui and Arbour Kitchen. “The west side is starting to get activated and there’s new apartments coming up as well, so we think it’s a good location to kick start something that’s a new restaurant in a new location,” says Ernest.
Take a peek inside and you’ll be greeted with an equally fresh fit-out. The K-Pop inspired space is the work of Gensein Studios, who are responsible for neighbouring Antica’s Napoli-inspired flagship pizzeria.
Clean lines are softened by the subtle curvature of bespoke baby blue tiling, which takes centre stage in a space where modern-day minimalism meets retro neon and graphics. “We tried to have unique design as well so everything comes in a new package”.
“The tiles became the highlight of the design because [they] were handmade in the Netherlands, so this is the first restaurant to use this tile in Adelaide,” says Ernest.
As for the food, it’s all in the name, which Ernest says, “means half-half, so what we’re doing is a whole chicken [and] in Korea because of the variety of different sauce and seasonings, people usually order half-half so that they can try different things”.
For the uninitiated, Ernest explains that “the difference is that [with] Korean fried chicken we coat it with sauce, that’s generally the difference to American fried chicken, and I definitely think ours is crunchier”.
Another point of difference, the batter. “We make our own mix with more than fifteen ingredients in it”. The recipe might be on tight lock but rest assured it delivers deliciously crunchy results.
On the plate, this carefully curated process shines. A South Australian chook is lathered in the restaurant’s house-made batter and then doused in a choice of sauce. When it comes to ordering, think yum cha, with diners given order sheet menus to order chicken by quantity.
“A serving is a whole chicken, it comprises of fourteen pieces,” explains Ernest, “the whole chicken is cut into fourteen pieces and we have boneless options as well for people who don’t like to get their hands dirty”.
Going hand-in-hand with a finger linking bout of fried chicken, beer is Ban Ban’s drink of choice. “The whole idea of Korean fried chicken and beer is about sharing and having a good time, having beers with friends after work”.
More than your stock-standard drinks list, Ban Ban’s offering sees beer from around the globe. “We have a different list that’s from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore”. One for the locals, Coopers is a staple on tap.
Injecting a fresh concept into the emerging Franklin Street precinct, Ban Ban has readily captured the tastebuds of Adelaide’s foodies. While the restaurant is now open for walk-ins, we recommend making a booking to avoid disappointment.
WHERE? 145 Franklin Street, Adelaide
WHEN? Monday – Thursday & Saturday: 17.00 – 22.00 / Friday: 11.30 – 14.30 & 17.00 – 00.00
COME HERE FOR: A place to come together over crunchy chicken and cool beer
EXPECT TO SPEND: $$
Photos by Ben Neale.