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Tradition meets modern Korean cuisine at ATTO in Chirn Park

Food & Wine

While Korean barbecue (or KBBQ as it is also known) seems to be having a moment in foodie circles, Chirn Park’s newest resident ATTO Korean Cuisine delivers a delightfully modern Korean dining experience. The unassuming new nosh spot quietly opened its doors late last year and has been building a cult following of folks who can’t get enough of the venue’s flavourful fare. Prawn burgers, the crispiest, stickiest Korean fried chicken and delicate sashimi are just some of the edible gifts that await at ATTO. Here’s everything you need to know …

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A couple of shops down from 5b2f Bakehouse is where you will find ATTO Korean Cuisine, which is the handiwork of Yongsul Lee, who also goes by the name Stefano. Translating to mean ‘gift’ in Korean, ATTO is his gift to the Gold Coast.

Stefano’s story is fascinating – a civil engineer back in Korea, Stefano moved to Sydney and got work in a kitchen. Barely speaking a word of english, he fell in love with cooking and moved his way up the ranks to eventually becoming sous chef at hôntô in Brisbane as well as stints at Spice Temple, Rick Shores and head chef at Etsu Izakaya, to name just a few.

After 18 years, he decided this was his time to step out on his own for the first time. Looking around his humble restaurant, Stefano tells us candidly, “This is my dream,” and from the moment you step inside the intentionally minimalist space, you can really feel it. A couple of prints are hung on the monument-grey walls, framing a scattering of 25 seats inside. Outside there’s a further 15 or so seats.

Make no mistake, the food is the hero here. Stefano tells us that this is his mother’s food – a nod to his childhood. Despite having never worked in a commercial Korean kitchen before, Stefano deftly fuses traditional Korean flavours with innovative techniques and modern plating to deliver something that’s familiar yet exciting all in the same bite.

The dinner menu opens with a selection of cold starters including natural oysters with plum-soy vinaigrette, finger lime and Korean chilli, alongside kingfish sashimi resting on a bed of kohlrabi, shiso, onion chive and Stefano’s own house-made gochujang sauce (fermented chilli paste). A serve (or two) of the K.F.C (Korean fried chicken) is an absolute must, which pairs nicely with the ATTO prawn burger, which contains prawn katsu, pickled zucchini tartar and fermented chilli mayo.

Flip the menu and you’ll be greeted with ATTO’s clutch of mains, including a charcoal-grilled Moreton Bay bug bathed in fermented soy bean and yuzu kosho, braised pork belly, which is glazed with sticky soy for that perfect hit of umami flavour. Wrap a piece in a lettuce leaf and drizzle with ssamjang sauce and you will quickly discover why the board above the counter reads ‘good food, good mood’.

Finish your feast with a serve of refreshing magno bingsu, which is shaved ice-cream topped with toasted lime meringue. ATTO is licensed with a succinct scattering of wines and other refreshments such as house-made sparkling fruit juice.

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