To the delight of Holloway locals, this family-run Korean restaurant is back on the scene after it served its last bibimbap five years ago. Mr and Mrs Lee have re-opened Busan just a
few doors down from their original location.
The updated decor has a futuristic hint, with glossy tables and chairs and coloured lighting tempered with the addition of a large ink mural flanking one wall. The resurrection also sees the addition of a sushi and sashimi menu.
The main menu, unlike many we’ve encountered in London, has a poetic line or two explaining the dish; useful for newbies to Korean cuisine. We loved the description of the sundubu jijae (soft curdled tofu stew), the experience likened to ‘eating a spicy cloud’. Indeed – the soft tofu curds were gloriously silky and light, suspended in a rich chilli- and seafood-spiked soup, mellowed by the addition of a sunny egg yolk.
Good, but not better, was a galbi tang (beef shortrib stew), a peppery, milky broth laced with slippery glass noodles, chunks of tender daikon radish and pieces of (not quite as tender) beef.
We appreciated that the barbecued galbi came with lettuce and doenjang (soy bean paste) for wrapping up the meat – most Korean restaurants in London charge extra for these – but the beef was again just a bit on the tough side. Hobak bokkeum (stir-fried courgette with sesame oil) came in generous portions, and was sweet and moreish.
Service demonstrated a solid sense of hospitality – commendable, as it seemed it was Mrs Lee who was singlehandedly working the room on our visit. Welcome back, Busan.