Bronze Award

SquareMeal Review of Koba

Bronze Award

There was a time when Korean barbecue restaurants were hard to come by in London, but in recent years, the trend for cooking your own dinner has really taken off. You can now practice your barbecuing skills at the likes of Olle in Chinatown, Superstar BBQ on Tottenham Court Road, and Gogi in Little Venice.

Koba however, found in Fitzrovia, pre-dates them all. The restaurant takes up residence on Rathbone Street, also home to Banh Mih Bay and The Newman Arms, and is classy enough to attract prim and proper clients while also offering the fun theatre of cooking your meal at your table.

Inside, the dining room features unexpectedly upscale décor – think a large central skylight that allows the dining room to be bathed in a natural glow, smart banquette seating which lines the walls and shelving units stocked with chic crockery and trinkets.

Whether you are here for a business lunch or a dinner date, we would recommend kicking things off with yook hwei, which is Korea’s answer to steak tartare. The dish combines strips of raw beef with slivers of sweet pear and an egg yolk that is stirred in at the last moment. Otherwise, opt for the goon mandoo (pan-fried veggie dumplings which are not unlike gyoza), or a casserole or broth with mushrooms and gnocchi-esque rice-flour dumplings.

Once you have polished off your starters, it is time for the main event. Sit back while efficient staff fire up the hotplates and barbecue pieces of sirloin steak, or feast on the pork belly that pairs perfectly with kimchi (chilli-hot pickled cabbage) –  “to die for”, as one reader swoons.

To wash it all down, order a bottle of cold Hite, which is Korea’s favourite beer, or stay sensible with a non-alcoholic cocktails such as the Plum Punch.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cool, Fun, Lively, Quirky
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Group dining [8+]
Food Hygiene Rating


Korean barbecue restaurant Koba is a long-standing fixture of Fitzrovia’s restaurant scene, having thrilled diners since opening its doors in 2005. The restaurant is unique in that its dining room is smarter than people have come to expect from barbecue restaurants, while a refurbishment in 2016 helped to give the space a little bit of extra sheen.

Of course, the main appeal of dining here is the chance to practise your skills on the grill and have a go at cooking your own lunch or dinner, but there are plenty more dishes on the menu to entertain you before you get to that stage. Appetisers at Koba include a daily-changing soup and a squid and seaweed salad, while you can pad out your table barbecue with assorted kimchi or a portion of steamed rice. Drinks wise, expect a succinct but impressive list of wines from around Europe (with a few international flourishes too), alongside tempting house cocktails and a few Korean beers.

The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, and if you are flying solo at lunchtime, we would recommend nabbing a spot at the bar. Koba’s lunch menu includes stir-fried noodles topped with chicken, vegetables or seafood, while you can also enjoy steamed rice topped with the likes of spicy pork and grilled mackerel.

If you are short on time, you will also be glad to know that some of Koba’s menu is available to take away. Among the dishes that you can bring back home or to the office are a Korean-style pancake topped with seafood and spring onion, or a kimchi and pork stew on a bed of steamed rice.

Koba is also a viable option when it comes to dining out in a group. For parties of eight people or more, there is a set menu available which takes away the burden of having to order for multiple people.


11 Rathbone Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1NA

020 7580 8825 020 7580 8825


Opening Times

Mon 12:00-14:30
Tue 12:00-14:30
Wed 12:00-14:30
Thu 12:00-14:30
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun 12:00-14:30
Mon 17:30-22:30
Tue 17:30-22:30
Wed 17:30-22:30
Thu 17:30-22:30
Fri 17:30-22:30
Sat 17:30-22:30
Sun 17:30-22:00


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6 Reviews 


24 November 2021  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
First Taste, Completely Love

My first ever taste of Korean food and I can certainly say it was fantastic!

We sat at the bar, by the door but was not cold even when people entered. The whole place felt comfortable, stylish and smelt amazing.

The menu was easy to browse and order, very clear about what every dish and what it contains. I was a little nervous of a BBQ as I have phobia of raw meats, especially red meats. However the staff were lovely and accommodating, handling the BBQ and the meats for us. Cooked our chicken to perfection and all the veggies were super fresh.

Our waitress Ari was lovely, on hand when we needed and super friendly.

Price for the meal came to about what I expected, not cheap but for a night out in London it's certainly not bad.

Can say I will return and would be tempted to try more on the BBQ and have more Mandu.


12 September 2017  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 2
Atmosphere 4
Value 3
What a difference a day makes...
This was my third visit to Koba in circa 6 weeks. Firstly, food, as always wonderful. BUT. We always have the Koba BBQ Selection as it's an excellent way to sample all the flavours on offer and have something lovely and varied. However, I personally, don't like beef and there are 3 types on the platter, with only a tiny bit of chicken. So, we asked for one of the beef options to be switched out for more chicken. Point blank refused. No discussion. Not happening. Chicken is cheaper on the a la carte options than beef and so they would have been up. As we were in literally 2 weeks before, you would think that the brain would compute that potentially we are a little pot of gold who will just keep spending! Their argument is that the selections are all made up, but unless this is the only restaurant in London with second sight and can anticipate every patrons’ order before they have sat down, I am still not clear on why this isn’t possible. Secondly, the service. Considering it was a Monday night and the restaurant was really not that busy, they were incredibly inattentive; verging on bloody elusive. They "man the hot plates" ensuring that you don't manage to give yourself food poisoning by undercooking things or generally burning yourself through ineptitude, also to clean it between cuts. We were left to it. The server looking genuinely surprised when we finally managed to catch his attention that we needed something. I have to admit that I drew the senior man on the floor’s attention to the deficit and we were apologised to with three reasonably terrible, but heartfelt cocktails. I won’t not go, but some of the flavour has been drained from the experience.

Sallinder R

02 June 2016  
Lovely food - casual dining and great service - def value for money.

Hannes H

08 August 2012  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 4
Atmosphere 4
Value 4
Had a great time , will be back for sure !

Mark M

04 May 2012  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 4.5
Value 4.5
I normally do not write reviews, but Koba seems to have some bad reviews, which it really does not deserve. Judging from the amount of customers in there, there are plenty of people who love the food, service and atmosphere and are very happy with the price and value for money. Went there last night with my girlfriend for her birthday. We had the Korean BBQ, which was fantastic. The food was great, high quality, fresh and yummy. The service was excellent, very attentive but not in your face! We ordered lots of food and drink without looking at prices. We probably had 3 portions between the two of us and 5 beers in total and the bill came to £92 incl. the service charge. I have been to Korea many times on business and Koba can easily compete. If you are looking for a cheap eat, this is not the place to go. If you compare Central London prices to Korea, you are also mistaken — after all you would not compare London prices for Thai food with Thailand either. If you are looking for a great night out, with fresh healthy food, great service and good value for money, this is definitely the place to go. Highly recommended!

Yu L

15 July 2011  
Food & Drink 0.5
Service 0.5
Atmosphere 0.5
Value 0.5
I took my boyfriend there to celebrate his 30th after reading good reviews online. However, the food, service and price were not as expected. The portions are a lot smaller compared to other better korean restaurants in London but more pricey, which is fine if it's a high end korean restaurant but it's not. Not only the portions are smaller they charge higher than other korean restaurants. I thought I would go to Koba for a change since I've been eating at my regular korean places for the last 5 years. They don't serve you the usual stuff like other korean places, such as 2 or 3 different dips for your BBQ and complimentary side dishes (kimchi/cucumber/sprouts etc) that comes with the BBQ. The spring onions were not enough for two people. Quality of good was not great; glass noodles and stone bowl rice were cooked differently and rather tasteless and missing some usual ingredients. This place is packed with tourists and locals who probably don't know their korean food very well. You don't really see many oriental people there coz surely they know it is not the korean place to be!
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