On the Bab Covent Garden, London

5.12.2015

You may think I am exaggerating if I said I heart gochujang sauce, the Korean hot pepper sauce. I love spicy food, especially the sweet, sour and spicy type which sort of translate to Korean cuisine. Occasionally I do whip up some not-so-authentic Korean food at home, courtesy to maangchi's recipes online.

I first heard of On The Bab probably on instagram first, their first branch is near Old Street station which is somewhere that I do not go often. I still haven't been yet, So when I heard they were opening a new branch at Covent Garden I knew I had to go. Luckily I was able to skip the long queue on their soft launch day. I went on a Sunday after a brunch session of Moët & Chandon champagne tasting. Already had 5 glasses of champagne beforehand, I was ready for more alcohols and sadly that did not happened.

Korean Muffin with Quail Egg and Bacon

Bulgogi Beef Noodle Salad

Yangyum Fried Chicken in Sweet Spicy Sauce

OTB serves Korean street food along with few classics dishes. We started of with a nibble of Korean take on a muffin, with quail egg and bacon. It is not what I had in my mind, the muffin. It is a Korean version (obang-ttok) of the Japanese's imagawayaki, similar to a waffle but with a filling inside. Crispy outside and a soft centre with the yolk oozing out, very moreish with the sweet tangy sauce. My wish is only if there was more of it, as this is the first time I had imagawayaki in UK. It's a common street food that can be easily found in Japan and Taiwan, possibly very popular in Korea too (not been there)?

The bulgogi beef noodle salad reminds me of naengmyeon, a Korean cold noodles dish served chilled. This is probably OTB take on the classic mul-naengmyeon. The broth is light with a slight tang to it which made the whole dish refreshing with tender pieces of beef and the noodles has a bouncy texture. The photo may make it seems like a large dish, it was quite a small dish in fact. No explaination is needed for the Yangyum fried chicken, aka Korean fried chicken. It comes in various flavour and I had the sweet spicy sauce. It's not the best fried chicken, it was still lips licking the crispy thin batter coated chicken covered in gochujang red pepper sauce topped with some crushed peanuts. It wasn't spicy enough for me, actually I didn't think it was spicy at all.

Mari

Kimchi

Mari which is essentially Chungmu gimbab is something that I find it very hard to resist. Back in the university days, there was a Korean supermarket nearby and I would go there to buy gimbab all the times and I could demolish the pack literally with in minutes. On this occasion, the gimbab was a side order. What arrived was Chungmu gimbab (mari), a gimbab made only with rice as the filler ingredient rolled in sheets of dried laver seaweed. The difference between gimbab and sushi is how the rice is seasoned, the former seasoned with sesame oil and salt and the latter seasoned with vinegar. It was some tasty morsels. On the other hand, I found the kimichi to be very average and lacking the spiciness. 

Bibimbab - with bulgogi beef

On The Buns - with spicy pork

The classic bibimbab is served in a metal bowl rather than a hot stone pot, if so it would have described as dolsot bibimbab. There was a lot of vegetables in it and it was ridiculously filling. Again it was rather an average dish. On the buns is OTB take on the popular hirata buns (the hottest hirata buns shop has to be BAO in soho at the moment, from all the rave reviews). Soft bun overloaded with a spicy pork filling and a heap of salad. It is not on my level on spiciness but the filling was tasty. The only let down was the bun was cold when it was served or it could have been everything was sort of served at the same time as I left it last to eat.

I wanted to order the beer tower, but I also knew I may have to be carried home on the fact that I already had champagne beforehand. I ordered a hot oolong tea to go with the meal and my only major criticism is why served a hot tea in a metal mug? How do one supposed to drink it when the mug is hot too? Halfway through the meal, it was still undrinkable. I know Korean like using metal utensils, but for a hot drink do not use a metal mug!

OTB is a quirky Korean street food restaurant with a warehouse sort of interior and serene ambience. Service is friendly with rooms for improvement, perhaps more attentive. I like the casual informal dining of OTB, with a great price and good food. What is not to like about it?

Score Rating: 3/5
Price: £20/head (50% discount, ~£23 for 2 people)

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http://onthebab.co.uk/

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