Difficult to call on the accuracy of the cooking, I'm not a regular eater of Korean, which, considering the delicious menu I'm faced with, surprises me. I think that there's a trick missed in my dining life. A selection of stews, fried dishes, noodle dishes and the phrase I'm looking for, dolsot bibimbap, a (relatively) healthy dish served in a roasting hot stone bowl that I'm relying on to take away my Monday evening blues. Authentic or not, there's little else I recognise on the menu, often one of the best benchmarks for authenticity.
A larger than expected portion of ‘Crunch Chicken’ sweetly and oddly tastes just like a gourmet version of a McDonald's Chicken McNugget. Noticeably sugared flesh beneath a light battered coating, it's surprising and not at all unpleasant, in a guilty pleasure sort of way. There's definitely a food dude marketing angle in this, it'd sell like, well hot chicken, in an East End foodie market. Come to think of it, I might try and get in there before anyone else notices! The obligatory side of kimchi, fermented and chilli infused cabbage, is a welcome contrast (if a little cold) cutting through the chicken and giving a needed contrast in texture.
The main event, that dolsot bibimbap, is enough to make me kick myself for not having it more often. It's a superb piece of simple cooking with some wonderful flavour and texture contrasts. Small piles of steamed and fragrant veggies are placed adjacent to each other for contrast, alongside a healthy portion of beef slivers, atop a bed of plain rice. The stone bowl, boiling hot from the oven, has been coated with sesame oil before being filled and the smell is outstanding. An egg yolk completes the dish, stirred into the browning, crispening rice and coating the meat and vegetables, cooking as it does to give the whole dish a light yellow sesame scented sheen. Cut through with more of that kimchi, this is truly a heartening and hearty winter dish.
The FoH team are friendly and unobtrusive, the decor is inoffensively pale, a mid range fairly generic Asian restaurant that could be anywhere or serving anything. It's not overly designed, but is functional and very comforting, like the food. Just round the back of the Shaftesbury Theatre, you're not going to find it on any glitzy hit lists, but that won't stop me going back and shouldn't stop you going, assuming you haven't already been.