Best Korean Restaurants in London

Korean food has been billed as the next big thing for at least the last ten years and while it has still to hit the mainstream in the way that Chinese or Thai have, it remains one of the more interesting Asian cuisines in the capital. Soho and the suburbs of south-west London are the traditional Korean restaurant centres where you can get to grips with the national dishes of kimchi, bibimbap and bulgogi, but a new generation of creative places not afraid to mash up Korean cuisine with funky global influences have recently been popping up all over town. Read on to find SquareMeal’s pick of the best Korean restaurants in London.

Updated on 07 February 2018

On The Bab Shoreditch

On The Bab Shoreditch

305 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LA

The restaurant that was doing steamed bao buns long before they became a citywide craze, On the Bab specialises in all kinds of incredibly tasty Korean anju (snacks to be eaten with drinks). A tiny corridor of a place, it's become a hot lunch spot for those who work within a one-mile radius. A fan who loves the spiced pork bao notes "it's not often I crave one particular dish", while others drop by for the deep-fried kimchi and cheese arancini as well as the staple Korean fried chicken with crushed peanuts and sweet chilli sauce. The plates (actually enamel camping-style crockery) come thick and fast and you're likely to be in and out in an hour, making this an ideal spot for a working lunch or dinner on the run – just remember it's a no-bookings eatery and the queues form early.

£30 - £49
Korean
Dotori

Dotori

3 Stroud Green Road, London, N4 2DQ

Simple and unassuming, this small Korean-Japanese hybrid, with its pictures of sushi in the window and tinkling fountain just inside the door, offers a calm respite from begrimed Finsbury Park station. Dotori has been quietly building a reputation over the past few years, so it’s wise to book. Prices are gratifyingly low, encouraging experimentation, and the Korean dishes are just as worthy of attention as the Japanese: perhaps seafood and spring onion pancake, or deep-fried oysters with a punchy chilli sauce, followed by bibimbap (rice topped with vegetables and chilli paste – with the possible addition of egg, meat or fish – served in a hot stone pot and mixed together at the table). Sushi is firm and fresh, tempura light and crisp, and service, from young waiters in smart black T-shirts, is well-meaning if occasionally erratic.

Under £30
Korean
Japanese
Koba

Koba

11 Rathbone Street, London, W1T 1NA

Popular with local big-hitters, Koba’s upscale decor makes it classy enough for swish clients while offering the showtime of cooking ‘at your own table’. Start with yook hwei (Korea’s answer to steak tartare, combining strips of raw beef with slivers of sweet pear and an egg yolk stirred in at the last moment), goon mandoo (pan-fried veggie dumplings, not unlike gyoza), or a casserole/broth with mushrooms and gnocchi-esque rice-flour dumplings. Then sit back while efficient staff fire up the hotplates and BBQ pieces of sirloin steak or ‘to die for’ pork belly – perfect with kimchi (chilli-hot pickled cabbage) and a bottle of cold Hite (Korea’s favourite beer). At lunchtime, perching at the bar is a favourite pastime for solo diners.

£30 - £49
Korean
Jinjuu Soho

Jinjuu Soho

15 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5PS

Permanently packed with a cocktail-clinking crowd, this Soho site takes the best parts of Korean and calorific US street food, then glues them together for oodles of guilty pleasure. The party vibe emanates from a “loud” ground-floor bar and bustling Kingly Street terrace, but the basement dining room has its own energy thanks to a semi-open kitchen and comic-style mythical creatures painted across the walls. It would be sinful to ignore the thrillingly crunchy Korean fried chicken, while it's also worth checking out the “really tasty” tacos, the mandoo dumplings and the carnitas ‘disco fries’. Our advice? Order bit-by-bit, as this is filling stuff. Smart staff are adept at handling the frenetic atmosphere, while the upmarket look extends all the way to gold metal chopsticks. Nothing about Jinjuu is subtle (including the prices), but it’s perfect for a trendy party – hence the arrival of a second outlet in Mayfair.

£30 - £49
Korean
Gogi

Gogi

451 Edgware Road, London, W2 1TH

A superb location awaits at this Little Venice local, with one side of the restaurant open onto the Regent’s Canal and a ‘distinctly cool’, clubby interior living up to Gogi’s billing as a ‘bar and grill’. Exposed brickwork, red strip lighting, black seats and a funky dance/R&B soundtrack set the mood, while the menu offers a reasonably priced, 60-dish jaunt through the mainstream Korean repertoire. Generous earthenware pots filled with spicy bibimbap provide ‘invigorating stimulation for the nose and palate’, bulgogi BBQs are a table-top fixture, and the pictorial menu also covers various soups, noodles, salads and appetisers such as bossam (slow-cooked pork belly with punchy daikon and cabbage leaves for wrapping) – not forgetting the obligatory kimchi. Lunch focuses on one-dish picks from the full-line-up, and there’s Korean beer to slake the thirst.

Under £30
Korean
Naru Restaurant

Naru Restaurant

230 Shaftsbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8EG

This Shaftesbury Avenue Korean stands its ground when it comes to authenticity, and can never be accused of dumbing down. Deeply savoury doen jang jji gae soup sets the tone for a menu that offers a full complement of native favourites, from steaming jigae hotpots and sizzling dolsot bibimbap (rice and all sorts of goodies mixed together in a hot stone bowl) to BBQ meats and sam kyeop sal (slow-cooked pork in a sweet and spicy sauce). The kitchen also shows some flashes of creativity: classic jap chee (stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables) might be wrapped in rice paper and deep-fried to make a crunchy, spring-roll starter. Friendly staff ensure that everything runs smoothly in the softly lit dining room, where pale wood, cream walls and subtle oriental designs define the mood.

£30 - £49
Korean
Myung Ga

Myung Ga

1 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5PA

Myung Ga has enjoyed an admirable run, serving authentic Korean specialities from its prime Soho spot for more than 20 years. A refurb a couple of years ago has addressed reader complaints that the noisy dining room had seen better days, although it looks much the same as it did before, only less worn around the edges. Arrive at peak times and expect to be turned away unless you've reserved a table – testament to the consistent quality of the traditional food on offer. Classic dishes such as light yet stridently spicy kimchi pancakes or a gentler seafood version, beef tartare dressed with sesame and egg yolk, golden nuggets of Korean sweet-and-sour chicken, and plump pan-fried dumplings are all done well, although star billing goes to the tabletop barbecue on which thin strips of meat (beef rib, ox tongue, marinated pork) and seafood (squid, prawns) are briefly sizzled before being tucked into lettuce wraps alongside raw garlic and spring onions. Staff can seem offhand but service is efficient; drinks include decent house wine and soju, the traditional Korean spirit. 

 

 

£30 - £49
Korean
Wing Wing Tavistock Square

Wing Wing Tavistock Square

30 Woburn Place, London, WC1H 0JR

This in-your-face joint centres on Korean fried chicken and cold beers and, while the emphasis is on takeaway, there are seats for 30 diners in a pared-back interior of exposed pipes and dark grey walls juxtaposed with bright colour pops. Signature chicken wings come with a choice of hot, soy garlic, or liquorice sauce, while elsewhere, there are burgers and wraps, filled with the likes of chicken, halloumi and even katsu curry. Sides see seaweed fries and a deep-friend onion ‘brick’, while gut-busting desserts include glazed brioche buns stuffed with Nutella, yuzu meringue or banana caramel. To wash it all down, there are ginger beer slushies and draught beers. This one’s pinned for a franchise rollout, so watch this space. 

Under £30
Korean
Cah Chi

Cah Chi

394 Garratt Lane, London, SW18 4HP

A busy, buzzing Korean restaurant, Cah Chi is packed nightly with local young professionals. They come both for the warmth of welcome from the family who run the place, and to eat well. Korean barbecue is the speciality, so each table has its own hotplate. Choose from beef, pork or prawn bulgogi, which is marinated and then cooked before your eyes. Whet your appetite with soup – pork and vegetable dumpling soup and seaweed soup are both recommended – or tuck into steamed tofu or pan-fried courgettes. There are also hotpots and noodles to try. This is a cash-only establishment, but prices are low (and it’s BYO – for wine only) so you won’t need wads.

£30 - £49
Korean
Asadal

Asadal

227 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7DA

Long before Korean food became a “funky” fixture of the London dining scene, Asadal was already spreading the gospel of kimchi – though you might easily walk right past its unassuming entrance hidden next to Holborn station. "Descend the steps and you could almost be in Seoul", notes one reader. The key to genuine Korean cooking is balance, and the extensive menu in this softly lit, wood-panelled basement dining room is “still delivering”, with bags of choice from savoury pa jeon (seafood pancakes) to sweet-and-sour tang su yook beef or spicy pork and beancurd hotpot. We’re also partial to hands-on favourites, including the sizzling bibimbap (layers of steak, vegetables and rice that you mix together in a stone pot) and the deftly marinated pork belly cooked barbecue-style on the hotplate at your table. Good-value lunch box deals are a great way to explore what's on offer. It may not be “cutting edge”, but Asadal’s food has “authenticity” in spades, concludes one convert.

£30 - £49
Korean