With a discreet entrance just by Holborn station, Asadal has been the go-to venue for Korean food fans in central London for many years. On a Friday night, the stairs leading down to the dark, spacious basement dining room were filled with hopeful diners queuing to get a table.
The busy restaurant took its toll on the staff, who weren’t as efficient as we’ve known them to be in the past. This led to a school-boy error with our bulgogi barbecued beef: the table-top grill was not heated before the meat was added, leading to a slightly stewed result – though the flavours were still as they should be. With the barbecue now in full swing, pork belly was much more successful: gently charred, with a tender centre and a decent line of buttery fat along one side.
A bowl of yukkaejang was pleasingly spicy and sour from the well-aged cabbage kimchi it contained. To finish, traditional, milky-coloured, persimmon punch was cool, refreshing and spiked with powdered cinnamon. Asadal wasn’t on top form this time, but it certainly still draws a crowd.