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best korean restaurants in london, koba
Photograph: Koba

London’s best Korean restaurants

Chow down on kimchi and bulk up on bibimbap at the best Korean restaurants in London

Sarah Cohen
Written by
Time Out London editors
&
Sarah Cohen
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If you’ve got that kimchi craving, London has many options. There are great places to eat Korean food all over town, from unassuming takeaways to sleek temples of Asian cuisine. At London’s best Korean restaurants it’s mainly all about the three Bs: bulgogi, bibimbap and barbecue, and the fun part is there’s often a DIY element to Korean dining, with cooking meat at your table a common practice. Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.

RECOMMENDED: London’s best Japanese restaurants.

The best Korean restaurants in London

  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Soho

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.

Daebak
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Vauxhall
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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Dotori
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Finsbury Park

It’s still nigh on impossible to get into 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.

Jihwaja
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Vauxhall
  • price 1 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Shaftesbury Avenue
  • price 1 of 4

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. The spicy Korean soups here have real depth of flavour, but everything is carefully prepared. Best of all, prices are really affordable – wellbeing for your wallet.

Kimchee
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • King’s Cross
  • price 2 of 4

Capacious, low-lit and sleek without being imposing, Kimchee flaunts its poshed-up wood-latticed Korean charms on 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Fitzrovia

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.

Olle
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Shaftesbury Avenue
  • price 2 of 4

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.

Find more fiery food in London

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