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Restaurants, Korean Shaftesbury Avenue
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

A Korean barbecue restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Don’t be fooled by the dull decor and hotel lounge muzak: this Korean barbecue restaurant is the real deal. Set in a deceptively small space on Shaftesbury Avenue, when the food is this good the uninspiring setting actually makes the whole experience more charming. You’ll feel like you’ve stumbled across a hidden gem. You have.

Chief of Olle’s charms is that its meat is cooked in traditional Korean style, on a grill built into your dining table. K-BBQ virgins, don’t panic – Olle’s helpful and welcoming staff do the actual barbecuing, leaving you free to sit back and enjoy the show. Everything was cooked to perfection, but the absolute highlight was the bulgogi: literally ‘fire meat’. The tender, caramelised beef was so good, I ate it straight off the grill with chopsticks.

Surprisingly, the non-barbecued starters were even better. Best of all was a classic yukhoe (Korea’s answer to steak tartare). Banish all thoughts of the French stuff you order in fancy restaurants. Olle’s was served in the traditional style: sweet, mellow and infused with sesame and fresh pear. Also fantastic was a seafood pajeon, a delicious savoury pancake cut through with spring onion and chilli.

Not every dish was perfect – a bibimbap (Korean mixed rice) was disappointingly bland and the prices here are relatively high for a restaurant so lacking in atmosphere. But the quality of those starters more than makes up for it. If you’re on Shaftesbury Avenue you can’t do better. Go – and make your own fun.


Address: 86-88 Shaftesbury Avenue
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £100.
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