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On the Bab

Restaurants, Korean Covent Garden
3 out of 5 stars
(11user reviews)
On the Bab

Time Out says

The name may bring to mind doner kebabs, but this slick, industrial-chic Korean restaurant is in fact a stylish respite from the chaos of Covent Garden.

The name may bring to mind nights of boozy excess soaked up by a doner kebab, but this slick, industrial-chic restaurant is in fact Korean. ‘Bab’ means ‘rice’, so ‘on the bab’ refers to dishes such as bibimbap, where meat, vegetables and eggs are piled onto rice and then stirred in by the diner. But it’s not just the usual Korean suspects of bibimbap, beef bulgogi and kimchi pancakes on offer here – although these are all well-made, generously portioned and reasonably priced. The menu also has a few wild cards up its sleeve, including a so-called ‘burrito’, which turned out to be two jumbo futomaki (sushi) rolls overstuffed with beef bulgogi and shredded vegetables, then sprinkled with deep-fried garlic. The gloriously junky Korean fried chicken, which retained its crunch despite being rolled in sweet and potent garlic mayo (one of four available dressings), also got a thumbs up. During the darn the dining room, with its subway tiles, marble tables and long bar surrounded by plum-coloured high leather seats, is a pleasant retreat from the chaos of Covent Garden; staff are eager to please yet discreet and everything arrives promptly. At night, the lights go down, the K-pop music goes up, and you could be in a bar. If that’s the way the night is heading, order up a couple of soju cocktails or a Hite beer.

By: Nicola Arencibia

Posted:

Details

Address: 36 Wellington Street

London
WC2E 7BD
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden.
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30.
Contact:
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Users say (11)

3 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|11
1 person listening
tastemaker

When a friend suggested we go to On the Bab for lunch, I had no idea I would be walking into a Korean restaurant. Even on a Tuesday, there was a small wait for a table of two. The fried chicken buns were delicious, but the bibimbab was disappointing as it lacked flavour and interestingly was not served in a hot stone bowl. I would return to this place but I do think its overrated. 

tastemaker

I checked the health score for this place, it wasn't not great. Until they change their hygiene score, I won't ever return. 

Tastemaker

This branch of On The Bab may have opened it's doors almost 2 and a half years ago but the queues are showing no signs of dwindling. Having decided that Korean food would most satisfyingly hit the spot, my boyfriend and I were ready and willing to wait it out as our stomachs got noticeably more vocal, hoping all the while that this cult cubbyhole would deliver on it's 30 minute promise.

I'm sad to say that it just didn't. I did my usual and ordered a cocktail, scoped out the spread on surrounding tables and ran my decisions by the wait staff to make sure I wasn't ignoring any secret specials. We went for a Bulgogi Beef dish, 2 varieties of their fried Chicken Wings and Soft Shell Crab buns which is a relatively new dish of theirs. The buns were by far the most satisfying plate we received and I just don't think that reflects well on a Korean restaurant given that Bao buns originate from Taiwan.


The meal was incredibly filling (we had to ask for a box to take away our leftovers) but besides that there seemed no vindication for the hype and the queuing involved to experience it. If you're after Bao, hit up the restaurant Bao and if something Korean is what you're craving then I'd suggest Bibimbap in Soho where the dish is much more traditionally served, you won't be expected to wait around outside and you won't sigh at the receipt either.



tastemaker

After a friend's recommendation and walking past a lengthy queue around dinner time, I decided to return another day for lunch. I would highly recommend the Korean Fried Chicken, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and available in 4 different flavours. The Bibimbap was tasty but served in a stainless steel bowl rather than the more traditional hot stone pot which was slightly disappointing, although the waiter did mention that this would be the case when I ordered. The flavour of the Bibimbap was nice and refreshing but I much prefer the sizzle of the hot stone pot with an egg cracked over the top, cooking over the residual heat. Would definitely go back and try out the burrito next time!


Very good pork bau bun

Burrito was interesting but ordered beef which I think was a bad choice as wasn't very high quality.

The fried chicken is good and moist but sweet and spicy sauce was pretty standard.

friendly staff nice vibes

Tastemaker

Loved the staff (the manager on duty was amazing) at this place. I had the bulgogi bap (£8) while my hubby had the spicy pork. You get two each so... of course we swapped so we got to try both. I preferred the spicy pork but with the smoky spice sauce they have at the table the bulgogi one was pretty excellent. 


The Korean Fried Chicken (5 pieces for £6) was pretty delicious, lovely crispy but still moist. The pieces are not large mind you-- but wonderfully filling. 


Good place for a bite to eat- they do not take reservations though so be prepared to queue!

tastemaker

I came here to grab a quick lunch with some friends a while back and thought their Bibimbap was quite decent. Granted, it is not served in a hot stone bowl but rather, a stainless steel one, the flavours and quantity are definitely there. It was a rather generous portion of rice, fresh vegetables and meat (I had mine with bulgogi beef) and I liked that the sauces were already on our table for us to add to our liking. Normally, the chili sauce is already placed in the bowl when served but for a picky eater such as myself, I appreciated that everything was left on the table to add on my own. 


One of my friends had the buns, apparently what they're known for, while my other friend had the bibimbap too but with chicken galbi. I thought the buns were presented really well and they did look rather delicious, definitely something I would try when I visit again!

Tastemaker

I have been dying to try On the Bab, who advertise themselves as Korean street food, for ages and have all of their branches bookmarked on Yelp. After a few drinks my friend and I decided to pop in for some food imagining the service to be quick canteen style: tables with very fast service (Leon style but delicious Korean street food). It's actually more of a sit down affair. A very hot sit down at that! The tables in the main part of the restaurant were full however there were some at the front by the prep kitchen. We parked up to find they were uncomfortably stifling.

The menu was brought to us instantly and then a friendly waitress was available to take our order soon after that. The food comes as it is ready and was good although nothing amazing. My friend ordered a bibimbap which was big and filling but at £9.50 on the more pricey side of other bibimbaps we've had. I  couldn't decide what to go for so ordered two starters; Korean arancini and fried chicken salad, which came quickly resulting in a long wait for my friends food - the arancini was still piping hot after a long wait and the chicken is served cold to begin with (weird). Although both dishes were good the salad was not a salad but more of a cold vinegar soup with cabbage, carrot and fried chicken floating on top - bizarre! The arancini were good but a little blander than I had hoped. 
Drinks were expensive considering the size of the glass of wine and cocktails. 
Overall not a bad dinner but not the best I've had. I wouldn't be back in a hurry although saying that the buns they were serving were huge and looked incredible! 
No where near top of my list but also not bottom!

We stumbled across this place trying to get a bite to eat before seeing Bill Bailey & we were all happily impressed. Family of 4 with 2 teenage boys who aren't most adventurous diners. We all chose different dishes & were suitably impressed by food especially considering the cost. The egg muffin was divine & this is the first time my sons have eaten cabbage voluntarily! It was packed & full of East Asians who I guess are more discerning customers than us. We will be going back.


We went here today for lunch on the back of Time Out's review, and we were sorely disappointed. We've had bibimbap at a bunch of places across town, and this was the most expensive and worst by far. It was served luke warm in a stainless steel bowl, rather than the usual sizzling stone bowl. The rice was slightly hot and the other ingredients (and the bowl) were cold, so once it was all mixed in, it wasn't hot at all. I think even the fried egg was cold.


Very very disappointing; will not be going back.

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