Much nonsense has already been written about Bibigo’s arrival in London, which is supposed to herald a new age of ‘Korean fast food’. In reality, London has had Korean food – fast or otherwise – for decades, and Soho in particular is not short of good and affordable Korean restaurants. In fact, Bibigo merely replaces another Korean restaurant, Ran, on the same site.
We were disappointed with our dolsot (‘hot stone’) bibimbap. This is DIY stir-fry, the ingredients served in a hot stone bowl which is supposed to sizzle the ingredients as you stir the rice, namul (seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chilli paste) together. The bowl wasn’t hot enough, and the portion was meagre. Portions of namul and kim chi (pickled cabbage, spiced with chilli) were also slight. However, the kalbi (barbecued short rib beef) was good, carefully marinated and well-flavoured.
The dining room has been lavishly appointed, but the service was hesitant and disorganised. Bibigo is a large international chain, but its first foray into the UK still needs more fine-tuning than a 1975 Hyundai Pony.