The fact that I love Korean food is not really a new revelation. You may remember my visit to London's Korea Town as well as a write up of one of my favourite Korean restaurants in London, Arang. So when a group of us were looking for great place to eat, I followed the recommendation of a few fellow bloggers and headed to Koba restaurant, off of Charlotte Street for a little Korean BBQ..The restaurant itself is much more elegant than most Korean restaurants although the prices are pretty standard. Eager to get a good feel for the quality of food served here, we ordered quite a lot of food between the 4 of us and proceeded to plough through them at great speed. Starting with the customary Kimchi/Kimchee pickles, (which annoyingly we had to pay for!), we crunched our way through the 3 pristine piles of perfectly pickled cabbage, Daikon radish and cucumber. Fluffy light 'Pajeon' seafood and spring onion pancakes were sensational and moreish; I could have happily just eaten that all evening.Two further starters arrive; 'Jap Cheh' sweet potato-based glass noodles with beef and vegetables and also an interesting and much-blogged about dish of strips of raw beef combined with Asian pear topped with a raw egg. Risky business. The Jap Cheh was nice but it always frustrates me that restaurants seem to charge £7-8 for this dish (Koba charges £7.20) only deliver a tiny portion that could quite easily be inhaled in seconds. This is a sneaky restaurant trick as there are only ever the tiniest strips of beef and a few vegetables in the dish so why not be generous? The real let-down came in the form of the raw beef with Asian pear and raw egg yolk (which unfortunately I didn't manage to photograph before the egg was mixed in). I read rave reviews about what an amazing dish this was on certain other blogs (mentioning no names) but I do wonder if the somewhat excessive worship of this dish relates to the fact that it is rather daring instead of the fact it is actually tasty? The fact is that it amounted to little more than an unpleasant combination of strips of raw, and actually frozen beef with Asian pear and a raw egg on top. No seasoning, no substance... No thank you.Main courses were far more successful and we chose various different dishes including belly pork slices and beef ribs as well as 'Daegibulgogi' sweet/spicy marinaded pork, classic beef 'Bulgogi' as well as prawns and squid all arriving raw and ready to be grilled in front of us (the classic Korean BBQ way) and none of it disappointed. Quality, flavour and even quantity was excellent; although not particularly cheap again, you couldn't possibly be disappointed in any way. The food is good. Very good indeed.I must admit, I would definitely come back here if wanting to take friends out to dinner somewhere Korean in town but for cheap eats, great food and good service, Arang in Golden Square wins me over, every single time.
11 Rathbone Street, London W1
Tel: 020 580 8825