The Best Korean Grills in New Malden, London
Korean barbecue and side dishes | © Lucas Vallecillos / Alamy Stock Photo
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 in true Korean style. Here are five of the best Korean barbecue establishments in town.
Diner, Restaurant, BBQ, Korean, $$$
With 20 years of service, Sorabol is a high street veteran popular with locals and tourists alike. Eun-Jean, the amicable owner, is on hand at all hours ready to guide those new to the art of Korean BBQ. She’ll reveal the perfect ratio of lettuce, garlic, leek and kimchi
to make each mouthful memorable. Her specialty is galbi
, a long strip of succulent beef marinated in a soy, garlic and sesame sauce. The meat is cooked on the bone and once sliced and shared, the ribs are left to be nibbled on. Using your hands is mandatory. Reasonable prices along with the cosy diner aura make Sorabol perfect for afternoon lunch.
Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Korean, $$$
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 to soothe your throat after all the singing.
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
Yami pride themselves on authenticity, good value and excellent quality. The first thing to hit you on entering is the smell of grilled meat. The staff attribute this to their ‘secret’ recipe. The meat is freshly prepared every day and left to marinate for at least 24 hours. Marketed primarily for the barbecue market, smoke rises from almost every table to form an atmospheric mist. When feasting on their delicious parcels, try the chilled plum wine or cold chung ha, a Korean take on Japanese sake.
Jin Go Gae
Restaurant, Korean, $$$
Jin Go Gae has a sleek, modern design that 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 that 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. While pricier than some of its competitors, the cost is redeemed in the quality of the menu. Understandably this place gets busy, so booking in advance is recommended.
Restaurant, Korean, $$$
New Malden’s K-Town is London’s first buffet-style, all-you-can-eat (AYCE) Korean barbecue. It offers meats, seafood and bibimbap, and part of the fun is cooking your own barbecue at the table. The restaurant has an industrial vibe and can get very busy, but it’s good value for money – the barbecue buffet costs £20 with an added 10 percent service charge, and has plenty (40+) of fun food options to try out. Give it a try to see if you agree with K-Town’s motto, “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy K-BBQ and that’s sort of the same thing.”
These recommendations were updated on October 1, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.