New Malden, home to the largest Korean
expatriate community in Europe, is the place in London to get an authentic Korean barbecue experience. Marinated beef, chicken and pork are cooked before your eyes at the table. Wash it down with a shot of Soju
or a glass of Makgeolli
for a true Far Eastern experience. Here are five of the best Korean barbecue establishments in town.
Diner, Restaurant, BBQ, Korean, $$$
With twenty years of service, Sorabol is a high street veteran popular with locals and tourists alike. Eun-Jean, the amicable owner, is on hand at all hours ready to guide those new to the art of Korean BBQ. She’ll reveal the perfect ratio of lettuce, garlic, leek and kim-chi to make each mouthful memorable. Her specialty is galbi, a long strip of succulent beef marinated in a soy, garlic and sesame sauce. The meat is cooked on the bone and once sliced and shared, the ribs are left to be nibbled on. Using your hands is mandatory. Reasonable prices along with the cozy diner aura make Sorabol perfect for afternoon lunch.
Sorabol, 120 High St, New Malden, UK, +44 20 8942 2334
Hanok booths | Courtesy of Han
Han wows with its interior design. Each table is separated into its own booth, elevated in the style of traditional Korean houses, or Hanoks. The lumber is over 200 years old and imported directly from the peninsula. The staff are used to customers unversed in Korean cuisine and have adapted their marinade to be sweeter and less fiery across their broad range of meat. But the hidden jewel of Han is tucked below, in the extensive basement. Here you’ll find private karaoke rooms that can be rented by the hour. The extensive drinks menu includes a wide array of craft beers and cocktails which are brought directly to your dulcet tones.
Han, 1 High Street, New Malden, UK, +44 20 8949 7730
Coal stove | Courtesy of Jin Go Gae
Jin Go Gae
Restaurant, Korean, $$$
Jin Go Gae
Jin Go Gae has a sleek, modern design which wouldn’t feel out of place in the upmarket Gangnam district of Seoul. Connoisseurs of Korean cuisine will be more than satisfied with the comprehensive menu of traditional meats and fish including grilled prawns, squid and tenderloin steak. Rather than electric, the griddles here are heated using traditional coal bowls which burn red as they’re levered from kitchen to table. Listen out for warning shouts and screams as staff rush them through the packed restaurant. Whilst pricier than some of its competitors, the cost is redeemed in the quality of the menu. Understandably busy, booking in advance is recommended.
Jin Go Gae, 272 Burlington Road, New Malden, UK, +44 20 8949 2506
Named after the popular Korean pickled cabbage, Kimchi Village is the best place to get value for your sterling. The contemporary design features exposed vents and wooden beams as well as rustic faux-brick walls. The high street newbie, having opened just last month, is growing increasingly popular. This is perhaps in part due to the buffet-inspired open plan layout. Customers pay a set price for unlimited meat selected straight from the marinade. Popular here is samgyeopsal, thin slices of pork which crisp over for a welcome crunch. There is also an eclectic selection of Korean and Western sides included in the price.
Kimchi Village, 63 High St, New Malden, UK,
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
Yami pride themselves on authenticity, good value and excellent quality. The first thing to hit you on entering is the smell of grilled meat. The staff attribute this to their ‘secret’ recipe. The meat is freshly prepared everyday and left to marinate for at least 24 hours. Marketed primarily for the barbecue market, smoke rises from almost every table to form a communal atmospheric mist. When feasting on their delicious parcels, try the chilled plum wine or cold Chung Ha, a Korean take on Japanese sake.
Yami, 69 High St, New Malden, UK, +44 20 8949 0069