Tuesday, 29 October 2013

You Me House, New Malden

Compared to other SE Asian cuisines, Korean is strangely overlooked in this town, for some reason. Chinese is effortlessly well represented at the top (Hutong, Min Jiang) and the bottom (Silk Road, Chilli Cool) ends of the budget, you'll never want for a good Vietnamese meal if you're anywhere near Battersea or Hackney, and every high street in town has a Thai restaurant despite the fact none of them are much good. But while there are a couple of Korean restaurants lurking around Zone 1 (Kimchee, Asadal, Koba), they had, for presumably very understandable reasons of rent and overheads, been tame and rather overpriced, and with indifferent service borne of the kind of location that gets a healthy tourist footfall.

So it was during yet another interesting but ultimately disappointing meal at popup Jubo in Shoreditch last month that I and a friend finally vowed to pull our fingers out and make the trip to where we'd constantly been told is the home of authentic Korean cooking in London - New Malden. Actually, as we both live near Clapham Junction, the journey to New Malden station itself was fairly trivial; the problem is that unlike, say, Kingsland Road or Chinatown, the restaurants are spread out over a large, anonymous stretch of South London suburb that makes planning your destination in advance a neccessity. We'd settled on You Me House (either a bad translation or they really do want to sound like a Cbeebies TV show) after a tipoff from a New Malden regular, promising authentic food on a budget.

It started extremely well. The (You Me) house snacks consisted of some crunchy mung beans in a sticky dressing and bean sprouts in sesame oil, and both those and a boldly-spiced, gently fizzy house kimchi were devoured even before any decisions were made about which other food to order. House beer was something called 'Hite' that tasted of precisely nothing, which is probably the point.

Of the main dishes, there were two highlights. Chilli-salted chicken had that knobbly, bubbly coating that all the best Korean chicken does, and the flesh inside was nicely moist. I would have a liked a bit more chilli perhaps, and slightly more acidity in the coating, but it was still a good example of this kind of thing.

Steamed dumplings were huge, soft, doughy affairs, generously stuffed with a pork/herb mixture and full of flavour. The dough, in fact, was so good it was perfectly edible on its own, which is just as well, as after cack-handedly shredding the things apart with a spoon and chopsticks to create chunks small enough to swallow, you tended to end up with either pork, or dough, and only very rarely both.

Other dishes were, if not unsuccessful exactly, then at least slightly more everyday. Bibimbap was perfectly good but the fierce heat of the stone pot overcooked it almost before we'd had a chance to take a bite each. Thin strips of beef rib, too, stood little chance of being tender after 30 seconds on a white-hot iron griddle, but still managed to retain a faint memory of a gentle garlic marinade. Only a beef and noodle dish was a real disappointment, the house-made noodles suffering under the weight of a gloopy black sauce of no discernible flavour.

We had massively over-ordered, and had to take much of the leftovers home in plastic boxes (which they were happy to provide), and so our bill came to a not-insubstantial £56.70 for two. But at a very conservative guess I'd say even half this amount of food would have been enough, and with that in mind I'm pretty sure you could have a very nice meal (dumplings, chicken, kimchee, perhaps some rice) for no more than £15 a head. And for that reason, it's hard to criticise You Me House too much. Service was charming (it's family-run), the place was clean and bright, and with a menu this size it's not hard to imagine I could have ordered much better. So here's to next time.


You-Me on Urbanspoon


Lizzie Mabbott said...

Shame you didn't have any bbq, that's my favourite part of Korean meals (and sooooondooooooboooo jjigae).

leiladukes said...

Would be great to have your guidance next time Lizzie! And obviously, more bellies to fill - that menu's a beast.

leiladukes said...

Your guidance would be great next time Lizzie! And obviously, more bellies to fill - that menu's a beast.

irateasian said...

Korean is not Southeast Asian you blundering frog-eyed twit!

London Chow said...

Thanks for the heads up! Was just thinking of heading down to New Malden for some Korean the other day. Yes, the chilly weather does make BBQ seems welcoming.

The last time round I've been there, a Korean pal pointed me to Cah Chi. They provide an assortment of complimentary starters (interestingly termed as "services" by the Koreans). That alone can fill you up quite nicely.

Do check that out if you are there again and tell us what you think of it. :)

Anonymous said...

There's a second branch of Cah Chi in Earlsfield (on Garratt Lane) which may be a bit closer to home and is absolutely brilliant (and byo last time I went about a year ago).

Helen said...

My favourite for BBQ is Su La in New Malden - one of the few places that still does charcoal BBQ.

Dofee said...

Yay I live in New Malden and can't get enough of the Korean food. Glad you finally made it here.
My favourite places for a cheap Korean meal are Jee Cee which is a few doors down from where you were, and Ham Ji Pak café which is on the high street.
My favourite BBQ place is Jingogae, they are one of the few places that use proper charcoal for the BBQ instead of gas.

Chz said...

Possibly the best thing about the High Street there is that everyone has their favourites. I like the cafe sort of thing, so we go to Ham Ji Pak normally.

David J said...

Indeed, Korean is East Asian and not Southeast Asian. It falls geographically in the same catchment as Japan and China; SE Asia constitutes Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, East Timor, Phillippines and Singapore.

An easy way of remembering is to consider whether fish sauce is used in the cooking - if it's a yes, then most likely SE Asian.

Anonymous said...

Another vote for Cah Chi here. Only place I've been to that serves Korean style purple rice! It's the real deal.