If drinks on a Friday night should ever take you to the West End, I would heartily recommend paying a visit to Bibimbap: a Korean restaurant in the heart of Soho’s hustle and bustle. One thing you should know, though, is that it gets very busy on a Friday so, unless you book in advance, you’ll often wait for a table.
When my boyfriend and I arrived on a mild Friday evening, without a booking, having enjoyed a refreshing gin cocktail at the nearby London Gin Club on Great Chapel Street, we were ready to wait.
However, I had come prepared: a set of mini bottles of champagne – a Secret Santa gift I had retained for just such a moment – added a sparkle to the queuing experience. With around ten people in front of us, we settled in for a long haul. But we were lucky: five of those in front of us were in a group, and small tables are easier to obtain – so after just ten minutes, we were ushered inside.
We were immediately taken aback by the creative décor of the place, which featured an simple style – bright and inviting, and jazzed up by an array of Polaroid photos on the wall showing Bibimbap diners laughing, eating, smiling, and generally having a great time. With our table right next to the wall, we were captured by all these faces and wondered if we would ever make it into this series.
A menu slapped in front of us brought us back to the purpose of our visit, and we soon moved to choosing our dishes. For starters, I got a miso soup – which tasted exactly like every miso soup I’ve ever had, and offered a welcome touch of familiarity – and my boyfriend went for the seafood pancakes: a pair of flavours which made a surprisingly tasty combination. I’d never think to put bits of seafood in my pancake mix, but the pancake’s texture nicely complimented the fishy taste.
The real highlight of any Bibimbap visit lies is in the main dishes, the bibimbaps: a Korean meal involving rice or noodles topped with sautéed vegetables, chilli paste, and beef or other meat, sometimes with a raw egg tipped on top to part-cook in situ. What’s remarkable is that the food is not served on average plates, but on very hot stone bowls, which will continue to sautee and cook your vegetables and meat and crisp up your rice or noodles while on the table. You must therefore make sure that you give the whole portion a good mixing-up to get the most out of this clever invention.
I loved the fact that my food wouldn’t go cold no matter how slowly I ate it, plus the large array of vegetables with my beef bibimbap – which made me feel that I was treating my body to a load of vitamins (not something usually associated with Friday nights in Soho).
One more thing simply must be said about Bibimbap; without this piece of advice, you could easily ruin your evening – despite the great food. Do not, under any circumstances, touch the bowls.
11 Greek Street
Tel: 020 7287 3434