Thursday, 19 September 2013
Bizarrely, not to mention wholly unforgiveably, this is only the second time I've written about a Korean restaurant on this blog. I have been to a few over the years, but the reason for the reluctance to write them up is that, while experiences at places like Asadal (Holborn) and Koba (Fitzrovia) have been decent enough, I was keeping my powder dry for a trip to New Malden, London's own Koreatown, where I'm told the real benchmark restaurants reside.
I will, eventually, get there, but in the meantime this is Jubo, somewhere I feel slightly more comfortable talking about as it's not a full-blown authentic Korean restaurant but something in the New York/Korean style attached to the Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch. The short menu has an attractive smattering of Koreatown staples, such as the all-important crispy fried chicken and trendy Bulgogi pork buns, and as the drinks list is powered by the guys next door you can order a range of grown-up cocktails to go with it. We started with a Hoxton Fizz, (vodka, apple, mint and elderflower) on the 2-1 happy hour offer, and very nice it was too.
The food was less impressive than the drinks, but then perhaps that's entirely deliberate. The Bedroom Bar is primarily a cocktail bar (and comedy club) and the deep-fried comfort food from the Jubo team is familiar and accessible, with no nasty surprises, so that the cocktails remain the main event. The 'hot' chicken wings and strips, for example, deep-fried to astonishing crunchiness, were only very mildly spicy, and the kimchi only very slightly pungent - as an introduction to New York Korean it did a job, but I can't be the only one hoping for a bit more fireworks.
One slight worry was the quality of the chicken. I found quite a bit of dark brown matter (presumably - hopefully - blood) around the bone, as if the carcass hadn't been prepared properly. There's no sign of the words 'free range' on the menu or the website, so I can only assume these are pretty sorry, cheap animals - brave to serve in Shoreditch in 2013, and a bit cheeky, too, when you're charging £8 for four wings.
The pork bulgogi buns were fine, but at the risk of sounding like a stuck record the ones from Yum Bun are tastier (the Jubo bun was stale at the edges, and the pork was on the dry side), almost half the price, and only 5 mins walk away at the Rotary Bar near Old Street, so you're better off just getting your fix there. The pickles were good though, a gently sweet, aromatic pink turnip thing and some interesting mushrooms, tasting pleasantly home made.
Perhaps I'm nitpicking. Nothing was inedible, the prices weren't astronomical and the service was friendly and efficient. I'm just not entirely sure whether I'll be back. It's not like Shoreditch is lacking in dinner options (they're not open for lunch, a strange decision with so many offices around), or good bars for that matter, or even good bars serving Korean food (see above). Jubo will, and does, have its fans, so I am happy to leave it to them. Next stop, New Malden.
I was invited to review Jubo