The best Korean restaurants in London
With a discreet entrance just by Holborn station, Asadal’s basement dining room has been the go-to for fans of Korean in central London for many years. Expect classic barbecue dishes cooked on table-top grills (beef bulgogi, pork belly, ox tongue, squid etc), as well as affordable set-lunch options with sides of kimchi and pickles.
A regular favourite for cheap, rib-sticking renditions of (you guessed it) bibimbap, this likeable joint is all bright colours, happy snaps and Ikea-style furniture. Ten varieties of the hot stone-bowl rice classic are on offer (including five for veggies) – all you need to do is stir in the fiery gochujang sauce and soya bean paste.
Just over the road from fellow Korean restaurant Jihwaja, Daebak is worth a punt if you don’t want a side order of karaoke with your kimchi. Occupying what was a greasy spoon, it still feels like caff, but prices are low, portions large and flavours are bang-on. ‘Daebak’ is Korean for ‘awesome’. It’s getting there.
It’s still nigh on impossible to get a table without booking at this Korean/Japanese hybrid, but – luckily – Dotori also does a life-saving line in takeaways. Well-prepared and well-priced dishes include buchu jeon (chive pancakes), bokkeumbap (stir-fried rice with toppings), yukgejang (a spicy beef ‘stewpot’) and specialities from the Korean barbecue.
It’s hard to know where the restaurant starts and the karaoke stops at this warren-like Korean joint on Kennington Lane – still, the food’s pretty decent. Massive steaming bowls of sticky lip-smacking fried chicken (a whole bird) vie with delicate dumplings and a killer crossover dish of cheese ramen – utterly filthy.
Capacious, low-lit and sleek without being imposing, Kimchee flaunts its poshed-up wood-latticed Korean charms on newly developed Pancras Square. Food-wise, we particularly like the ugeoji galbitang (beef rib and cabbage soup), the stir-fried pork with tofu, and the thick udon noodles topped with fried chicken. Similar fare is available at the Holborn original.
Launched back in 2005, Koba remains one of the stronger players on the West End Korean scene. Barbecue meats are well marinated and grilled at the table – choose from beef kalbi, bulgogi and more besides. Stews make a sound choice too, with umami-rich stocks and accompanying bowls of pearly rice.
It may be plonked on a busy stretch of Burlington Road, but don’t let that put you off. KH’s extensive menu covers the usual barbecues, stews and variations on bibimbap (plus Japanese sushi), although we suggest homing in on dishes that are slightly less familiar – offal and blood sausage stew should do it.
Although Naru offers some cheffy presentational flourishes, it’s not a matter of style over substance – this is a solid venue for quality Korean classics, with a few innovative touches. Instead of table-top grills, meats such as marinated short rib or beef bulgogi are barbecued in the kitchen and brought sizzling to the table.
Don’t be fooled by the dull decor and hotel lounge muzak: this Korean barbecue restaurant is the real deal, with bulgogi and other meaty items grilled on hotplates built into each table. Fancy something raw? Try the classic yukhoe (Korea’s answer to steak tartare infused with fresh pear). Go on, make your own fun.
Now holed up not far from the British Museum, the Seoul Bakery is a destination for all things Korean – from K-pop music and memorabilia to some of the cheapest bibimbap in central London. Fans also pile in for their filling seafood pajeon pancakes. Expect to get well-fed for under a fiver.
Given its sandwich bar set-up, you’ll be surprised by the vats of punchy kimchi flying out to hungry workers who come here for lunch ‘to go’. Wellbeing’s spicy Korean soups have real depth of flavour, but everything is carefully prepared here. Best of all, prices are really affordable - wellbeing for your wallet too.
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