Korean food found its spotlight a few years ago and doesn’t seem to have waned in London. For a long time London’s Korean food scene was skewed towards the traditional; the authentic dingy little eateries on St Giles Street or if you were diehard enough, in far flung New Malden. But recently eateries focusing on a more modern slant on Korean food, even fusion, have sprung up. On the Bab rides this trend and is arguably one of the most successful.
The surroundings are positively ‘hipster’ with K-pop blaring in the background and tables packed in tightly enough so that one could easily reach over the other table and steal a bit of your neighbour’s dinner! It is a pet peeve of mine to enter into an Asian restaurant and not hear music from that country being played. Fine if it’s British music, we’re in London after all but how many times have I heard Chinese music being played in a Japanese restaurant or vice versa? More than I’d care to admit.
We ordered a range of dishes on offer including the Toppoki, Yangyum Chicken with Seasoned Spring Onion, On The Bibimbab and On The Buns.
I have a rather odd tendency to order Toppoki whenever I see it on a menu. I wouldn’t say this is a favourite dish of mine but ever since my second trip to Korea a few years ago I’ve been intrigued by the extent to which this popular Korean snack has been transported from Korea. On the Bab’s version is garnished prettily and I love the crispiness of the fried wrappers. This is very much a sharing dish as the doughy Toppoki easily fills you up and it’s not that exciting just eating one dish the entire meal!
Bulgogi Beef On The Buns
On the Bab has incorporated these “of-the-moment” buns into their repertoire and it works. We chose the Bulgogi Beef which was filled with a smorgasbord of different accompaniments. It’s a great tasting bun with different flavours bursting out with every bite and is one of the messiest as well!
Yangyum Chicken with Seasoned Spring Onions
London needs more Chimaek culture! I can never refuse fried chicken and Korean fried chicken is one of the most eclectic variations in the world commonly smashed together with any number of toppings you can imagine. It’s normally a sharing thing which brings me to the embarrassing moment where I accidentally ordered a 16 piece platter for myself in Busan, the more the merrier! On this occasion we were conservative and ordered 5 pieces to share. I love On the Bab’s ethos of dousing anything and everything with loads of garnish and on the whole this was a delectable dish though you do taste a little flakiness of the batter. It’s one of the best “KFCs” I’ve had in London but the real deal is still in Seoul.
On The Bibimbab
We also ordered the On the Bibimbab which disappointingly didn’t come in a hot stone bowl which would give the rice an added crispiness. However this was still a very tasty dish with the sauces and seaweed melding with the rice and who doesn’t love a runny fried egg!
On the Bab expertly melds traditional Korean flavours with popular modern styles. Dishes are generally considered to go with drinks, in the Korean anju fashion but portion sizes are decent so ordering two dishes each should be about enough. On the whole this is the place to go if you’re looking for a modern take on Korean cuisine.
Address: 36 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7BD
Telephone: 0207 240 5568
Mind the Gap
Mon – Sat: 11:30am – 10:30pm
Sun: 11:30am – 9pm
On the Bab has been growing steadily, it now has three restaurants; in Shoreditch, Covent Garden and Marylebone with a fourth opening soon at St. Paul.