Cah Chi (Earlsfield)

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Cah Chi

Post written by Amy K, edited and published by Steph

Founded in 1993, Cah-chi is one of the oldest Korean restaurants in London, having moved from Swiss Cottage to more south of the river and into its Korea hub Raynes Park. With two branches, the one we visited in Earlsfield, Cah-chi considers itself as one of the most authentic Korean restaurants in town, a restaurant visited by many locals and Koreans alike.

Cahchi means ‘Magpie’ in Korean, which is considered a bird of good luck, connotating  ‘coming a new person or precious guests’.

Having not explored Earlsfield before, it was close to the train station and roughly 10 minutes from Waterloo. As you walk in, the decor was modern and the wooden furniture made the restaurant quite homely. It gave off a very clean feel in comparison to other places.  The manager was very friendly and showed us to our table. 

The meal:

Shortly after ordering our teas, we were served 9 side dishes. These included 3 different kinds of Kimchi, which were the original spicy picked chinese cabbage, cucumber and radish. We also had soy beans that were caramelised in soy sauce and sake, that were surprisingly really yummy and addictive. As these were small, our chopstick skills were put to the test! Other dishes included boiled egg in soy sauce that was really aromatic, and somewhat nostalgic, reminiscent of home cooking, and steamed vegetables. 

Next our starters arrived, and the “Haemul-pajeon” which was a seafood and spring onion pancake was nice and crispy with a good amount of both egg batter mixed with seafood and vegetables. This was served with soy sauce and rice vinegar dip.

Steph: I thought the Haemul Pajeon was slightly over fried – it was crispy but albeit a bit too oily for my liking.

The pork and vegetables was a safe choice as these were like small bites of goodness. The “Kkanpunggi” which is deep fried chicken in garlic and honey sauce came in bigger chunks compared to other korean restaurants, and was not too sweet.  the “Dak-koji” is also a very popular dish in Korea, of rice cake, fish cake and vegetables simmered in spicy sauce.  This also had some noodles within, but was quite a spicy dish. So I would recommend this if you like your spice.

Following came our main where we had the table BBQ that was set up by our waiter and cooked in front of us. We had Dolji Bulgogi – thinly sliced spicy pork and bulgogi – thinly sliced sirloin steak which was marinated in Cah chi sauce, also onions and mushrooms.  Both were flavoured very well and was even better when wrapped in lettuce, spring onions and umani soy bean paste. 

Another favourite was the dolsot-bimbimbap which consisted of rice, mixed vegetable, egg and strips of raw beef that are contained in a hot stone bowl.  We were asked how much hot sauce before the waiter mixed everything up whilst still cooking. 

The ‘Doinjan Jigae’ a rich soybean paste stew with tofu, seafood and vegetables. This lacked some flavour, as it wasn’t a strong soup, but had a lot of seafood condiments inside.

After having such a satisfying meal, we ordered ice cream to complete the dinner. however, only had room for ice cream so we ordered the black sesame, green tea and yuzu.

The price: ££

Square Meal

Superstar BBQ

Superstar (2 of 34)
Feels like Christmas already! Superstar BBQ at Tottenham Court Road

History and Background:

Meal courtesy of Superstar BBQ.

With an existing coup of Korean restaurants in London, the addition to Tottenham Court Road with Superstar BBQ doesn’t come as a complete surprise. With St Giles Street fast becoming a second Korea town (after New Malden), eyes were open, and ears were peeled to see what awaits in the St Giles Piazza.

An impressive menu at a very competitive price, the new restaurant in town is somewhat flashy too with intricate baubles hanging from the ceiling and its very own karaoke room. Although a BBQ restaurant, it is vegetarian friendly, family friendly and date friendly too!

Sophistication is what distinguishes Superstar BBQ between the rest, floor to ceiling windows and huge tables with a professional set of staff. A very westernised take on Superstar BBQ where no korean words are printed on the menu and staff who speak fluent English.

Korean BBQ has always been an on and off trend, with meat marinated and ready to grill at your ease with banchan (side dishes) to combine it with.

 

The meal: 

We had the option to go for any set meal for 2 – we chose set 3 which is £35.00. Below are what’s included.

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Traditional Mandoo (Dumplings)
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Pajeon (Seafood Pancake)
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Yuk Hwae (beef tartare)

A very good yuk hwae, the sliced pears are sweet in nature and mixed with the raw beef is a perfect combination (and raw egg of course).

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Kimchi (Banchan)

You will get another banchan which consists of namool. I believe these are seasoned beansprouts.

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A large table to cater for all
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Selection of meat dishes

Tiger prawn, sesame and garlic sirloin, rib galbi, wine pork belly and grilled vegetables highlight the BBQ meat section. Not quite your typical marinated dishes but at the same time a very good take on Korean BBQ. The tiger prawn ended up too dry and mostly due to us over-cooking it!

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The other banchan – Namool
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The way to do it!
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Bibimbap

The bibimbap was slightly try for me, even with the extra gochujang sauce. This is most likely to do with the dry vegetables you get to mix within the bowl. All very cute though.

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Black sesame ice cream

These desserts are probably one of the best I’ve had at a Korean restaurant. The black sesame ice-cream is strong in flavour and soft to spoon. The snowball (pictured below) deserves in own recognition. Quite literally a bowl of sugary goodness (a bit too much for me but most will like it), very much a Winter-y dessert.

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Snow ball

 

Service: Just as good as most restaurants

Bits and bobs:

  • Right opposite Kanada-ya and Ippudo, you won’t be hungry in this area trust me.
  • booking system available
  • Party bookings available

Price: ££
SuperStar BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ASSA

Assa (5 of 10)
Arguably one of the best hotpots in London

History and Background:

A little history on the internet on ASSA while I’ve researched where I can, it has been around since at least since 2008 with 2 branches, one on Giles Street, and the other, Romilly Street (near Kyoto).

Giles Street branch has since closed down due to the renovation works ongoing at Tottenham Court Road. An insider tells me the owner of the building block on Giles Street intends to knock down and rebuild it upscale residential flats. We shall see…

I have only ever been to ASSA for its hotpot, catered for all spice levels, and a variety of different hotpots you can choose from. Other food such as it’s kimchee pancake, and rappokki are very much recommended.

ASSA lists an extensive set of Korean dishes alike, such as rice cake soup to alcoholic drinks such as cucumber soju.

The meal:

Assa (9 of 10)
Rappokki (Ramen with rice cakes, fish cakes) £6.90

I’m a sucker for Korean food, probably stems from doing a homestay for a month in Seoul when I was 18. Ramen with rice cakes and dokbokki is a favourite of mine, if you like it like it spicy and sweet at the same time, definitely try this out. Ramen is 70% cooked, how I like it.

Assa (2 of 10)
Beef and Kimchi Stew £22 (recommended to eat between at least 2 people)

When you’re waiting for the gas to heat the soup base, don’t play around the pan just yet! You can order extra condiments (it’s pretty normal to do so, otherwise you don’t have much in the pot). Extra condiments vary in price but you’re given an extensive choice. Ask the waiter if you don’t know what they are. Some extras can be vague, i.e. ‘noodles’, ‘ramen’ and ‘glass noodles’, so what kind of noodles are ‘noodles’?

Assa (1 of 10)
Extra add-ons (£1-4) Ramen, 2x eggs, Ham, rice cakes, glass noodles, pork
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Generous serving on beef makes me happy
Assa (7 of 10)
Joceline was supposedly on a no carb diet so she got samgyupsal i.e. pork belly slices and lettuce wraps…

This was okay, nothing special, and wasn’t that hot, very fatty pork. I like my meat more lean…

Assa (8 of 10)
A feast for 4!

Service: Like most hotpot meals, or BBQ meals, there is expected, minimal customer interaction, but fret not, they’re friendly and helpful when you raise a hand or 2.

Bits and bobs:

  • They have karaoke rooms downstairs
  • Spread over two floors
  • Can always ask to refill the soup base when hotpot is drying out, or gas
  • As far as I remember, Korean BBQ there is grilled before serving, no DIY here!

Price: ££

Click to add a blog post for Assa on Zomato

Square Meal

Arirang

arirang (3 of 16)
Poyee and Amy digging in to their food
History and Background:

The restaurant is named after the word Arirang, which derives from a Korean traditional folk song. Opened in 1975 as the first Korean restaurant in the UK (as they said ‘ the UK’, I assume this also means that Arirang preexists before the collective group of Korean restaurants in New Malden).

A family run restaurant focusing on Korean BBQ, popular for the locals and Koreans, and able to cater for private parties up to 30.

They also have a menu page dedicated to Japanese dishes, such as sashimi and tempura.

The meal:

arirang (2 of 16)
Pa Jeon (Seafood pancake) £8.50
arang (4 of 16)
Kan Poong Gi (Deep Fried Chicken with Special Sauce) £8.50
This is very much like sweet and sour chicken Hong Kong style, something that is very familiar to me, with my family previously having owned Chinese restaurants…

arirang (5 of 16)
Tok kuk (Sliced rice cake with Beef soup)
arirang (6 of 16)
Chap Tang Bab £11.50
Chap Tang Bab consists of shrimps, sliced squids, beef, mushrooms and vegetables with rice and soup. Kimchee Jige below, Kimchee soup with pork, rice, side dishes and soup. There were only 2-3 pieces of pork though in the entire bowl, not sure if it’s worth getting.

arirang (7 of 16)
Kimchee Jige £11.50
arirang (8 of 16)
Squid with soy sauce £7.90
Basically, you can’t not have Korean BBQ when it comes to eating at Arirang, it’s almost compulsory! We had a selection of a few different types. See picture captions. Unfortunately we didn’t actually have a great experience with this place, the service used to be so much better. Momo ordered a bibimbap and they forgot about it, and 45 minutes in we were still waiting. Once the bibimbap was brought over, it was the wrong type… but we didn’t want to follow it up any further.

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Chicken £8.50
arirang (9 of 16)
The staff does everything for you – but you can request a DIY
arirang (11 of 16)
Thin sliced spicy pork £8.50
arirang (12 of 16)
THIS WAS SO GOOD YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WITH BULGOGI
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Amy’s maturity level… lettuce/ cabbage you need to pay extra, but compared to the other Korean restaurants, they’re big. (Which is good – greater filling)
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Dol Bibimbap £11.50
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One of my favourite Korean dishes – hot stone bibimbap
Service: As explained above, a careless error degraded my experience at Arirang – also not the same as it used to be, but you’re here for the food, not the service

Bits and bobs:

  • Gives you cutely cut up oranges after your meal

Price: ££

Arirang on Urbanspoon

OnTheBab (Covent Garden)

On The Bab (1 of 26)
It’s here! Another place for after-work drinks! #drinkswithsteph
On The Bab (2 of 26)
You can’t miss it…. there’s a sign

Second Branch of OnTheBab Shoreditch, (review can be found here), thus no introduction needed!

Opened on the 10th April offering a one day 50% soft launch (dishes here are shown full price), I took the opportunity to try some new things from the menu. Again the focus is on Korean Anju dishes, that is, food that is served well with alcohol, similar to a Japanese Izakaya, but the Korean version.

The meal:

There are a few things new on the menu, such as new flavours to the Yangyum Chicken, Sweet Spicy with Garlic Topping, and Garlic and Mayo.

Muffins are also new to the menu, mirroring the current street food trend from Seoul, the Korean Muffin Case Baked Egg.

On The Bab (7 of 26)
Kimchi and Cheese Egg Muffin £3.50 (Korean Style Egg Muffin with a Korean Dip
On The Bab (15 of 26)
Quail Egg and Bacon Egg Muffin £3.50
On The Bab (12 of 26)
Beer taps for the beer lovers
On The Bab (10 of 26)
When you eat with Andy you know you can drink with Andy

The muffins were indeed something new and it’s not something that suits everyone, Daisy enjoyed the Kimchi and Cheese flavour whereas Allan didn’t. If you go for a muffin, best go for the Kimchi and Cheese, the Quail Egg and Bacon is too European!

On The Bab (18 of 26)
On the Buns (2 pcs) £7.00 (Bulgogi Beef)

I’ve had a lot of baos this week, (Hirata Buns), the baos aren’t as soft as its Taiwanese competitors (Bao London) but it is still a great eat, its portions are larger, and you get your fair share of kimchi in your filling.

On The Bab (16 of 26)
A lot of veg in our veggie On The Bibimbap £7.50
On The Bab (24 of 26)
On the Buns – Spicy Chicken £7.00
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It’s chicken! Yangyum Chicken (medium) Garlic Mayo, and Sweet and Sour for £11.50
On The Bab (21 of 26)
On The Roll/ Korean Style Burrito £7.50

The Yangyum Chicken were my favourites, more the Sweet Spicy than the Garlic Mayo  but it was something different! Great with beer! The Korean Style Burrito is essentially a kimbap, a lot of condiments in them and a very large vegetable to meat ratio…

On The Bab (22 of 26)
We got too full… but the ‘burrito’ consisted of various vegetables, choice of bulgogi beef, spicy pork, spicy chicken, fried chicken or mixed veg.

On The Bab (20 of 26)Service: The manager came quite a few times to see how we were doing, it was a busy day for the team!

Bits and bobs:

  • Like the Shoreditch branch, they will not be doing bookings
  • A bar is incorporated into this branch, giving it a more pub-like feel
  • Offer takeaways

Price: £

Square Meal

Asadal

Busy on a Friday night, one of London’s biggest Korean Restaurants.

History and background:

Slap-bang in the middle of the High Holborn intersection lies Asadal and easily one of the most popular Korean restaurants in Central London. It first opened in 1991 in New Malden and then relocated to the City in 2005 (and what a good decision that was). Predominantly filled with City workers, business men and women, a large portion of its customers come from local universities such as LSE, which is a 2 minute walk away.

Working near Holborn myself, meant that I have been to this restaurant countless of times after work, and no doubt, it doesn’t disappoint. Although, I wouldn’t say it’s the most authentic Korean restaurant out there (the dishes are more catered towards a British audience), it does deliver good food.

Pajeon £8.90

I usually go for the Kimchi pancake, but on Friday, I went with the Seafood pancake (pajeon). Some type of sauce always complements the pancake, though I am not sure what it is..

One of my favourite pancakes in London. Crispy and crunchy.

Pancake made of egg, wheat and rice flour batter, pan fried with spring onions, oyster, mussels, prawn and squid.

Shikhye – Rice punch

Below we have Korean BBQ! A lot of people come here for the BBQ, they have a great selection, I would recommend anything marinated, or Kalbi.

Dewji Bulgolgi £8.50

Dewji Bulgogi is spicy marinated pork, we had this bare, but you would usually complement it with lettuce. Annoying thing about Asadal is that they do the BBQing for you. I’m one of those people who like to DIY it!

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Galbi £9.50

This is the Galbi – beef. So good and succulent… I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Specially marinated cuts of rib of beef
Yu Khei Bibimbap £9.90

Bibimbap consists of vegetables and beef and rice, then you mash it all up. Yukhei is raw fillet beef but it gets soon cooked inside the hot stone bowl.

Sam Gae Tang £13.50

This is a whole baby chicken stuffed with sticky rice, dates, ginseng, chestnuts, garlic slow cooked and served in broth. The first time I’ve had this at Asadal, or even in London. It was mostly good, though some parts of the chicken were quite dry.

Sticky rice soon became unsticky… lost it in the soup!

Not denying its popularity, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best restaurant out there…nevertheless, it serves good quality food at an alright price.

Service: Not great service to be honest, it’s quite impersonal. They do have a lot of staff, but you need a lot of staff for a 120 seat restaurant. 10% service charge.

Bits and bobs:

  • The restaurant is underground, little service/ signal and no wifi
  • Booking recommended but with 120 seats, you don’t usually wait long anyway

Price: ££

Square Meal

Asadal on Urbanspoon

OnTheBab

Grace, one of my frequent eating partners

History and Background:

Onthebab is a trendy, chic restaurant situated between Old Street station and Shoreditch. Opened in late 2013, the restaurant made headlines for its quirky interior and menu style.

Chicken, beer and traditional Korean street food.  

The meal: 

Having been here on a few occasions, I tried something different than what I usually have. Below is the Kimchi bokeumbab, this is Korean style kimchi bacon paella with a fried free range egg on top.

Presentation is quite simple. Different to the bokeumbaps that I had in Korea, but nevertheless it was a good dish. They give you a very, very, generous portion of salad, and small amount of rice… but a dish with egg makes everything better!

Kimchi Bokeum Bab £8.50

Grace had the bibimbap, this is normally my usual, and it’s one of my favourite dishes. Please check out the #yolkporn.

Bibimbap £7.50 (with meat, an extra £1.00)

Again, I feel that Onthebab gives you a very large amount of veg… compared to the rice/ meat. But it is a very filling main.

Kimchi Jigae £7.00

Grace ordered the Kimchi jigae, very flavourful. This is kimchi & tofu stew in pork stock.

On the buns (2pcs) £6.50

Honestly, I was so full from my main, I really struggled to finish this! But this is my absolute favourite! Very juicy, succulent and meaty. *dribbling*

For this hirata bun, I opted for spicy pork, Grace was so full she didn’t even have any, and I ended up eating both… BOTH.

Service: tends to be slow, but I wouldn’t say it’s due to lack of staff, they have enough, but it’s slow. Service charge is 10%

Bits and bobs:

  • No reservations. (Expect queues)
  • No place for your coats, small tables, but it’s cosy.
  • They do takeaways!
  • I would also recommend trying the fried chicken. Try it, honestly.

Price: £

 
On The Bab on Urbanspoon