The single best thing about London’s food scene is the sheer variety on offer. Our huge, sprawling melting pot serves up a veritable smorgasbord of cuisines from all over the world, with fresh influxes of flavour arriving every other week. Lately, Korean food’s been getting a lot of love, so I was excited to go to the media evening for On the Bab’s new Covent Garden restaurant with my old mate El. It always feels good to check another cuisine off the list (even though cabbage is my sworn enemy and I’d heard that kimchi is kind of a big deal in Korea).
And indeed it was, the stuff was EVERYWHERE. I read the menu, sighed (inwardly) and prepared myself for an evening of surreptitiously scraping fermented cabbage off my food, which began with a kimchi and cheese muffin we shared as a sort of pre-dinner niblette.
It was actually…not that bad; nay, delicious. I’m not sure how authentic an English muffin is to Korean cuisine (but hey, that’s what fusion is all about, right?) but it was quite wonderful. I wanted more. They also do an eggy variety, and at £3.50 each (with a side of spicy gochujang mayo dip), it’s a nice little micro-starter.
We split our muffin over a couple of cocktails; for me the Strawberry Something, an alcoholic slushie made of soju, Korea’s most popular alcoholic beverage. Since visiting Vegas in 2013 and sucking down around 400 frozen daiquiris in five days, I’m always on the lookout for slush drinks with (a) punch. And at £6.50 for a cold, thick, long-lasting cocktail, it’s good value too.
El chose the Cherry Blossom (£7.00), a tart, sparkling concoction exclusive to OTB’s Covent Garden restaurant. It tasted like a glass of liquid Love Hearts, but pleasingly palatable, even to not-so-sweet teeth like mine.
We sampled some of their other drinks too, including the tangy frozen Sojurita, which I can also confirm was top stuff.
From the ‘small’ plates menu we chose a medium portion of Yangyum Chicken (£11.90), which really was big enough to adequately do two people with a couple of sides. Two piles of chicken straddled a mountain of kimchi (which I shovelled away like a woman possessed), deep fried with crushed peanuts. You can choose two out of four possible sauces, and we opted for Sweet & Spicy (delicious but pedestrian) and Garlic (wowzers!)
Have to admit it’s not ultra appetising to look at, but the garlic chicken especially was fantastic. A little too strong for El, but perfect for me. (My motto has always been ‘there’s no such thing as too much garlic’, though, so perhaps it’s only for the hard core!)
We also ordered the Korimari (£9.50) from the ‘On the Bab’* menu, a stack of Korean rice roll wrapped in nori, alongside spicy pork and three, count ’em, three, different kinds of kimchi. You get to try a lot of flavours for one dish, and it’s fun to share.
*Bab = rice. Not (ke)bab.
It was similar to the ‘Korean style burrito’ (£7.50), which arrived as two enormous slugs of rice, beef and veggies. It was a bit too seaweed-y for me, but El was a big fan.
As you can see, it was a lot of food, but it came out quickly and I would definitely recommend this place for pre-theatre cheap eats. Especially when you can wash everything down with…a tower of beer.
Bloody good fun, I think you’ll agree. Over and out.
XOXO, Cabbage Convert.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.