If you’ve got that kimchi craving, then you’ve come to the right place. Korean restaurants can be found dotted all over town these days, as well as positioned in New Malden and Tottenham Court Road hotspots. Here's where to find the best of bulgogi, bibimbap and barbecue – it's the best Korean restaurants in London.
The best Korean restaurants in London
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. It still puts out a mix of classic dishes to a loyal crowd. Find the likes of bulgogi barbecued beef cooked on a table-top grill and gently charred pork belly, as well as affordable set lunch options with sides of kimchi and pickles in the mix.
Bi Bim Bap has become a regular favourite for a cheap and warming bowl of its namesake dish. Served in hot stone bowls (dolsot), there are ten varieties of the spicy rice mix to choose from including five different veggie options, all topped with a range of shredded vegetables and ready for you to mix with all the chilli sauce (gochujang) and bean paste you fancy.
Venue says: “New menu coming soon!”
An East Asian barbecue restaurant and Anju bar from former Roka alumnus Jan Lee. In reality, Bo Drake is a fusion restaurant blending Korean eats with Mexican cuisine. Find it in bao filled with brisket or kimchi quesadillas. Flavours are splashed on with vigour: to eat here is to surf on wave after wave of umami flavours.
There’s a real warmth to this residential Raynes Park restaurant, which pulls an appreciative crowd of Eastern and Western diners. The menu contains more than just the standard array of barbecues, stews and stir-fries. Even the complimentary panch’an are better than average, with subtle own-made kimchi and sweet, nutty adzuki beans a regular feature.
Ceena doles out Korean fast-food to a City crowd, with eco-friendly packaging for those taking away, and since it’s based in the City, lunch boxes are on offer for al desko diners. But steaming bowls of jjigae and Korean pancakes (jeon) suit the slower lunchtime crowd just as nicely. It’s more filling than refined, but a nice alternative to your typical Pret a Manger run.
It’s still nigh on impossible to get a table without booking at this Finsbury Park establishment that blends Korean and Japanese influences. All’s not lost if you don’t bag a seat, however, as they do offer takeaway. Well-prepared and well-priced dishes include bokum bap (fried rice), yukgejang (spicy beef stew soup) and dishes from the barbecue.
Translating as ‘my neighbour Jee’, Jee Cee Neh is an apt moniker for this New Malden restaurant, which has a decidedly homespun feel. It’s often packed, with a mix of Korean and Western customers. Like the venue, the authentic dishes are homely and unpretentious and the stews are particularly winning. Service can be variable, but usually comes with a smile.
A trendy take on Korean dining from celebrity chef Judy Joo (although more famous in the US than on these shores). The ‘Jin Chick’ is a tasty signature Korean fried chicken with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce. Otherwise, dishes tend to be a mash-up of East and West, from sliders to ribs to tacos.
Venue says: “Please call us to reserve your table and to enjoy an authentic Korean table barbecue.”
Koba remains one of the strongest players on the West End Korean scene since opening in 2005. Barbecue meats are well marinated and grilled at the table – choose from beef kalbi, bulgogi and more. Stews make a sound choice too, with umami-rich stocks and accompanying bowls of pearly rice.
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 tabletop grills, meat is barbecued in the kitchen and brought sizzling to tables, from marinated short rib to bulgogi beef.
Find more fiery food in London
This Korean bar and grill in Maida Vale certainly looks bang on trend - there's loads of bare brickwork, imposing chrome ducts and exposed filaments dangling over the bar. There's a contemporary feel to the food too, with classic Korean dishes often given a modern twist or two. Traditionalists shouldn't fret, though. Dishes such as kimchi, bossam, jap chae noodles and beef bulgogi all feature, as do various dolsot bibimbaps - stone pot dishes of mixed rice with an oyster sauce. Steak tartar - here seasoned with sesame sauce and served with sliced pear and egg yolk - is an example of the more imaginative side of the menu. A short wine list keeps the focus on big-hitting old world regions, but bottles from Argentina and Chile feature too. Cocktails include a selection based on soju (the popular Korean spirit), while beers include Asahi and Hite - the latter from Korea. Keep an eye out for lunch deals, too.
Venue says: “Enjoy the sizzling barbecue whilst sipping on our exclusive blend of Asian cocktails as you look over Little Venice (Maida Vale) canal.”