Authentic Korean food in the centre of London at Asadal

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Korean food is having a bit of a revolution, I can remember for the longest time I didn’t like kimchee having tried it when I was younger and now I love a bit of kimchee with my Korean food. With lots of fast food options and Korean BBQ restaurants here in London there is always the risk that what you are getting is not as authentic as you can get here in the capital.
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Tucked underneath Holborn station is Asadal where you can find your authentic Korean food fix. Don’t just think of bibimbap and Korean barbecue there are other traditional foods available on the menu you just have to have an open mind. I don’t know much about Korean food but in my opinion it is the perfect warming and filling food for the winter months. We made our way downstairs into the restaurant, ordering some Korean Max beer to accompany our meal straight away, it is a pretty light beer and not bad at all.
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We started with a bunch of traditional appetisers which if you haven’t tried you should, keep note. Yuk Hwae arrived at the table first which is a Korean version of steak tartare complete with egg yolk and sliced pears.
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It sounds a little odd but the beef is lightly marinated with some spices and once mixed in with the egg yolk and pears it is pretty tasty.
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Kimchi jeon which is a traditional Korean fried pancake but this one has chopped up kimchi in it. There is another option which is a vegetarian and non spicy version on the menu, this kimchi pancake is the best version of this dish I have had in London.
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Then came one of my favourite Korean dishes which I had in when I visited South Korea.
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Man Du is a handmade dumpling filled with meat, kimchi or vegetables and you can get lots of different kinds. The Kun Man Du in Asadal is a handmade version with pork and chives, they were well filled, the dumpling skins were nice and thin and lightly fried so that the dumplings were a little crispy, if like me you are a dumpling lover then you need to order these ASAP.
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Vegetable Jap Che which is a very traditional dish of pan fried vegetables which are then mixed with clear noodles, soy sauce and other seasonings. If i’m being honest this wasn’t the best dish that we had, but it is one you have to try if you haven’t already.
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One of my all time favourite Korean dish has to be Korean fried chicken, I mean who doesn’t love fried chicken in any shape or form. This Korean Fried Chicken is covered in a sweet, sour yet spicy sauce. The chicken kept crispy despite covered in sauce, perfect with some beer and some great company.
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The next dish which came to the table was something that I had never had before, if you go to Asadal with a bunch of people (which I recommend so you can order more to share) then you definitely need to have some Bo Ssam which is steamed pork belly served with steamed chinese cabbage and lots of different kimchi, sauces and raw garlic and chilli slices.
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The way that you eat it is to use the steamed cabbage as the base, pile some slices of pork belly on top of it followed by some kimchi, spicy red pepper paste, raw garlic and chills. I was a little sceptical about the raw garlic but somehow this garlic didn’t overpower everything else and it wasn’t unpleasant to eat. Pile it high and shove it all in your mouth, it tastes delicious!
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After all these appetisers we were pretty stuffed but there was more to come! Of course it wouldn’t be a Korean meal without a bibimbap which came in the traditional hot stone bowl. The rice was topped with fresh and cooked vegetables, raw meat and an egg yolk. Don’t worry the hot stone bowl cooks the meat and egg yolk when mixed at the table and also makes the rice attached to the bowl a little crispy in places.
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When mixed you have the option to how much spicy red pepper paste you want put in the rice. I recommend as much as they brought to the table as the seasoning is extremely tasty.
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This came with two other dishes, Tofu Bokum which is spicy tofu with mixed seafood and vegetables, a great dish to mix in with the rice from your bibimbap or with just plain steamed rice. I love mixing tofu with rice it just tastes so delicious.
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Yuk Gae Jang which is spicy beef and vegetable soup which comes with steamed rice which is apparently traditional in Korea. The broth was extremely tasty and it was the right spice level. If you don’t feel like a really heavy rice dish then definitely order one of the soups which comes with some rice for you to mix with the broth.
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Everything at Asadal is extremely tasty, I left feeling happily full but not heavily full as a lot of the dishes were packed full of vegetables and not full of oil or heavily fried. So the next time you go to a Korean restaurant don’t always go for the typical Korean BBQ and bibimbap combination, have a good look through the menu, ask the staff questions and broaden your foodie horizons. I know that I will not simply settle for just bulgogi, or Galbi any more and I will try more and more things (but not giving up my favourites) you never know what you will discover.
Thank you to the staff of Asadal for being so accommodating and giving us this amazing foodie experience. For more information about Asadal check out their website and go visit them soon! Your dark winter nights will be better for it.