Dinner for 2 with copious amounts of Obe beer: £75.00
Korean BBQ is to me – and I know many will disagree – the best BBQ that there ever was. In fact since it is nigh impossible to get even remotely authentic Southern BBQ in New York City (where I am from) I would have to say that Korean is the closest my hometown has to a local BBQ culture. I love it and I am amazed that its just not more common here in London. So anytime I have the chance to trick someone into going out for Korean food with me (this time it was a date) I jump at the chance.
Koba is pretty small so if you’re expecting anything resembling one of the Manhattan/Queens style hangar sized BBQ palaces you’ll be dissapointed. I’d think the biggest party you could possibly get away with is 8 people comfortably around a table. Also if you want to sit and stare deeply into someone’s eyes its a bit of a stretch as the tables have to be big enough to accommodate a grill and an extraction hood. Both myself and my date each smacked our heads into the extraction hood over the table during the meal.
The one major disappointment I have with all Korean restaurants here in London so far is that you have to order and pay for your namool – little dishes of most often pickled things. In NYC at any Korean restaurant they are complimentary and are often a real highlight as you get a chance to try all sorts of things you might be scared to order off of a menu. For example I never knew that I loved dry shredded squid until I was served a small dish of it once.
We started with a selection of kimchi which were absolutely fine though quite a bit less spicy than usual. I think this is a case of dumbing things down for a Western palette. But they were still spicy enough to get your appetite going.
Next we had Pajun – a pancake with seafood and spring onions (not pictured) which was yummy. And ddukbokki – rice and fish cakes in spicy sauce – one of my absolute favorites . I cannot explain my obsession with this particular dish. Its full of all sorts of strange textures and flavors and I just love love love it. Their version was pretty good – not nearly the best I’ve had – but pretty good.
The main event is of course the meat and I cannot express to you how delicious the meat is. I don’t know what it is that Korean chefs do to make it all taste so good but whatever it is it works. We had a selection starting with Kalbi – marinated beef spare rib. The marinade is slightly sweet and the beef was incredibly tender.
Next up was daeji bulgogi (not pictured) which is spicy pork – ridiculously good. And last we had prawns which were not marinated and which were so fresh and sweet that they really didn’t need any sauce at all.
It was a fabulous meal and I am already plotting to go back. I am pretty sure my date liked it too.
11 Rathbone Street
London W1T 1NA