It’s timely, with ‘Great British Bake-Off’ so huge, to profile this great nation’s most famous burner of cakes. This two-parter attempts to reposition Alfred from the anti-Paul Hollywood into an early pioneer of education, trade and urbanisation, among many other concepts we now take for granted.
Hushed enthusiasm has always been historian Michael Wood’s game, and our ever-engaging host does his best to bring to life an era about which relatively little is known. Bloodshed, though, was a given, with the Vikings a constant menace to the Anglo-Saxon natives of these Isles. Via Rome and a campaign of guerilla warfare (which featured the celebrated oven-related mishap), Alfred overcame our would-be conquerors and, intriguingly, played a very significant role in setting London on its way to global prominence.
Koba remains one of the strongest players on the West End Korean scene since opening in 2005 – we’ve yet to have a disappointing meal here. Barbecue meats such as beef kalbi or bulgogi are well marinated, and grilled at the table by efficient staff. Barbecued squid was fresh as a daisy, with just the right amount of tongue-tingling heat in the vibrant red sauce. Stews make a sound choice too, with umami-rich stocks and accompanying bowls of pearly rice. The spicy, slow-simmered short rib hotpot comes with chinese cabbage and sweet potato noodles as well as chunky pieces of beef, while the soft tofu stew is packed with seafood slivers. As this is Fitzrovia rather than K-town (New Malden), there’s no free panch’an, and the namul is a little pricy at £5.90. This is our only quibble, however. Service is polished but not too formal, and the dark, modern-East-Asian-meets-industrial interior is slick, making Koba an ideal spot for anything from a business lunch (set meals start at £6.50) to a casual dinner. Drinks include Korean beers, soju and a short wine list. Check out more great Korean restaurants in London
Venue says: “Please call us to reserve your table and to enjoy an authentic Korean table barbecue.”