Given that London’s New Malden plays host to the largest community of Koreans in Europe — an estimated 20,000 — it’s surprising we didn’t start our love affair with the nation’s food sooner. But with fusion restaurants and food trucks popping up all over town, it would seem the capital’s love-in with the East Asian country’s cuisine is finally in full swing.
The reason? From their national dish, kimchi (a pink, pickled cabbage condiment that tastes far better than it looks) to dense rice dishes (bibimbap), substantial pancakes (jeon), sticky barbecued meats (gogigui) and filling foodstuffs specially designed to accompany alcohol (anju), Korean food is as diverse as it comes. And, to top it all, the country’s dishes are, on the whole, surprisingly healthy.
1 | Kimchinary
A Korean-Mexican fusion, Kimchinary’s toasted burritos (served with kimchi fried rice) are fantastic, as is the gochujang (fermented chili paste) and honey pulled-pork tacos.
2 | On The Bab
Set up by the founder of another Korean success story – Fitzrovia’s Koba – Hoxton’s On the Bab (meaning served with rice) is an anju restaurant specialising in street food with sweet spicy sauces and meat.
3 | BiBimBap Soho
Named after the country’s signature rice dish, Bibimbap Soho is a local favourite. There are loads of toppings to choose from, including raw beef fillet, mixed seafood and, of course, kimchi.
4 | Busan BBQ
“AmeriKorean” street stall Busan BBQ serves the best bulgogi (marinated beef) burgers outside Seoul. Find them at The Yard in Hackney, StockMKT in Kingston, or Bread Street Kitchen in the City.
5 | Hurwundeki
This hidden gem in Bethnal Green is both a fantastic Korean restaurant offering its own blend of soy and chilli sauces, and a great hairdresser (seriously). Our advice is to go for a Shoreditch fade, and stay for the food.
6 | Korrito
The options at this travelling stall (which stops at Shoreditch, South Bank and Kingston) are simple: choose your “protein” (bulgogi beef, spicy pork belly, buldak chicken), then decide if you want it wrapped up or mixed into a salad or rice box.
Anywhere we've missed?