JinJuu Korean restaurant – Soho

Following a matinee performance of Bug The Play (disturbingly good) L and I arrive early for our reservation at JinJuu in Soho. Call it late lunch or early dinner – we’re both ravenous and thirsty and are ready to get stuck into some Korean food and drinks.


IMG_6117d_JinJuu platter
Bo Ssam pork belly for two – twice cooked pork belly, marinated pork tenderloin, salad, cabbage


The restaurant is almost full despite being mid-afternoon, so between peak meal times. We’re taken to an alternative table that’s ready now (as we’re early) and order a bottle of prosecco @ £38.00 and munch on Jinjuu “bespoke ssam jang handmade prawn crackers” @ £4.00. Nicely spicy with a substantial crunch.



Prawn crackers


The menu is exciting without being overwhelming (must remember to check out the special set menus on Sundays).

We order some squidgy and crispy dumplings to share:

IMG_6114b_squidgy dumplings

Mandoo – juicy steamed beef and pork dumplings seasoned with Korean spices, served with soy dipping sauce @ £7.00


IMG_6116b_crispy dumplings

Short rib & Kimchi mandoo – crispy dumpling stuffed with braised beef, mushrooms + kimchi, with a dipping sauce @ £7.00


The dumplings are so good we only just manage to restrain ourselves from ordering more.

For main course, we tackle a Dwe-gi Bo Ssam Pork Belly platter for two @ £26.00, comprising:

  • Twice cooked large black Berkshire pork belly
  • Marinated grilled pork tenderloin
  • Dwengjang & gochujang glaze
  • Spring onion salad
  • Traditional homemade radish + cabbage kimchi
  • along with rice, tons of lettuce + Korean-style pork crackling

IMG_6119b_JinJuu shared platter

Pork, pork, pork crackling, rice + more


We are no longer ravenous.

And so – for dessert – we share what’s meant to be a small portion of ice-cream but it arrives with four generous scoops:

  • Salted miso ice-cream with kkae kang jung (sesame candy)
  • Nokcha (green tea) ice-cream with nokcha rice topping


IMG_6131b_Jinjuu ice cream

Three scoops (shhh don’t mention the fourth) of ice-cream @ £6.00


We also enjoy a leisurely cocktail – I have a gorgeous, refreshing psy sour – Hwayo 41 (rice spirit or soju), Kamm & Sons (a bittersweet botanical spirit), red ginseng and honey tea, fresh yuja fruit, egg white, lavender bitters and ginseng candy @ £11.00.  And L has a lychee lover – lychee infused soju, lychee liqueur, aromatic bitters and prosecco @ £10.00.


IMG_6135b_psy sour

Psy sour – with sweets and entertainment. Cute.



Ground floor restaurant and main bar


IMG_6125b_Jinjuu Soho

Downstairs: basement dining area + kitchen



Korean spam… apparently



Pretty boy band posters in ladies’ loo cubicles


Wandering around the restaurant it’s hard not to find something that makes you smile, whether it’s the posters of pretty boys while sitting on the loo or decor that includes Korean spam designs.

Our total bill for two is £122.62 including tip (roughly £50 for food, £60 for alcohol). Ok so we’ve splashed out on booze but it is possible to have a mighty fine meal here without breaking the bank.

The verdict: It’s all a bit spesh. Go see for yourself…



Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Korean
– Address: 16 Kingly Street, Soho, London
– Postcode: W1B 5PS
– Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus
– Website + menus: JinJuu website
– Photos on flickr: JinJuu images
– Location: JinJuu map 

Jinjuu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On the Bab – Covent Garden, WC2

This popular Korean street food restaurant doesn’t take reservations so allow some time for queuing on arrival.

On my visit earlier this week, H had arrived first, queued, and been seated at a small table for two by the time I arrived, meaning I skipped a substantial line at the door. Which was nice.


IMG_5156b_Inside On The Bab_Covent Garden
Inside On the Bab – prepare to queue

Rice poppers @ £3.50

It’s a small restaurant and tables were crammed in close together. It was busy, and although we ordered a bottle of Argentine Malbec @ £25.00 straight away, it was very slow to arrive. We pondered slowly over the food menu before ordering food, and chased the arrival of the bottle of red wine twice.

When our waitress brought our food a while later, we asked her to return it as we still wanted a drink first – the wine we’d ordered some time ago. The Malbec eventually arrived.


IMG_5151b_bulgogi beef
Baek Ban – bulgogi beef with rice, salad and kimchi

I had baek ban – bulgogi beef (spicy, marinated, tender beef) with rice, salad and kimchi (spicy hot pickles) @ £11.90 (so good) while H had spicy pork bibimbab @ £9.50.

IMG_5149b_pork bibimbab_as served
Spicy pork bibimbab – as served


IMG_5154b_pork bibimbab_stirred
Spicy pork bibimbab – mixed


The verdict: Not a restaurant to visit if you’re short on time (allow for queuing and slow service when busy). Well worth a visit for great Korean food though – the bulgogi beef was so good it’ll be a challenge to try something different next time. But I’ll try; the people next to us were eating bbang – steamed buns filled with meat (or mixed vegetables) and our waitress also recommended yangyum chicken – Korean style fried chicken in batter with crushed peanuts. Ready to return…


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Korean
~ Address: 36 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2E 7BD
~ Nearest station: Covent Garden, Charing Cross
~ Website + menus: On the Bab website
~ Photos on flickr: On the Bab images
~ Location: On the Bab map

On The Bab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pacata – burgers, curries, Asian fusion street-style

After a cultural Sunday outing in London – visiting the Soundscapes exhibition at the National Gallery followed by a coupla beers in a (fairly scuzzy) traditional pub – H, K and I wanted to eat out somewhere.

After much deliberation (over another beer of course) we decided on a Thai restaurant in Covent Garden that we’ve been going to for over 15 years. Initially disappointed that it was closed, we were – ultimately – delighted to stumble across Pacata while aimlessly wondering what to do.

Situated on New Row (a quaint, narrow side street just off St Martin’s Lane) Pacata’s shop-front is small and unimposing. A printed menu propped up in the window caught our eye – an Asian fusion menu serving dishes as diverse as burgers, Thai curries, steaks as well as ramen and pasta, all with an Asian twist and in the currently trendy ‘street’ style. Something for everyone, deliberations sorted.

The restaurant interior was appealing from the moment we stepped in, with its mish-mash of wood furnishings and eclectic lamp collection.

Pacata interior_downstairs_lights_wood
Restaurant interior – downstairs space, creative lighting, wood wood wood

Ordering a bottle of Chenin Blanc, Stormy Cape 2013 (South Africa) @ 16.00, we chose these starters to share from the bar-snack menu:

~ Tod mun fishcakes – Thai fishcakes with chilli sauce @ £4.50 (slightly anaemic, under-flavoured and disappointing – the only weak link in the meal)
~ Popcorn chicken in larb powder – bite-size chicken snacks in a spicy coating @ £6.90
~ Beef skewers – with roast mushroom, spring onion and soy sauce @ £4.50 (yum!)


starters_fishcakes_popcorn chicken_beef skewers
Starters – Tod mun fishcakes, popcorn chicken in larb powder, beef skewers

For main course, H and I both chose grilled chicken breast served with mushrooms, green beans and Jasmine rice @ £12.95. There’s a choice of curry sauce (green Thai, Massaman or Japanese) – we both chose green Thai.

The presentation of the sauce was such that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience choosing how *you* want to eat this unconventional Thai green curry.

IMG_3133_chicken green Thai curry
Chicken green Thai curry – as served


So do you:

a) pour your green Thai curry sauce over the chicken first
IMG_3135_chicken green Thai curry
Sauce over whole chicken (H’s option)



b) cut up the chicken and remove bones before pouring your sauce (so more of the chicken is coated in curry)
IMG_3137_chicken green Thai curry
Chicken strips coated in curry sauce (L’s option)

Either way, it feels like a good and different experience, that engages you (the eater) to customise your Asian curry food in the way you want to eat it. Simple but effective.

K chose this tom yum chicken ramen with a twist: a complete chicken breast on the bone served in a tomato cream soup with egg and spring onions @ £12.95.

IMG_3131_tom yum ramen
Tom yum ramen – spicy tomato cream soup with egg and chicken


We were having such a relaxing, comfortable experience here we felt like lingering. And so ordered a round of digestifs (our waitress was unfamiliar with Courvoisier and took several attempts to serve it with “no ice” but at room temperature as it’s meant to be). Altogether, our bill for three people came to £127.00 including service.

I’ll be back. Probably for a ‘burger n beer’…

Restaurant info:
Sample menus:
~ Bar-snacks
~ Burger n’ beer @ £8.50 deal

~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Thai, Korean, Asian
~ Address: 4 New Row, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2N 4LH
~ Nearest tube stations: , Leicester Square, Covent Garden
~ Website: Pacata website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Pacata food
~ Location: Pacata map


Click to add a blog post for Pacata on Zomato

Hana Korean restaurant – Battersea

Hana Korean restaurant on Battersea Rise was a truly serendipitous find for us last night – we’d been to the first beer festival at Clapham Grand (disappointing, nowhere near the standard of Wandsworth Common Beer Festival events at Le Gothique – many beers had run out, bar staff were clueless about beer, we were served several incorrect beers and left early) and then – being a Friday night – many restaurants in Battersea were heaving.

Hana Korean had some free tables (the main reason why we chose it) and it seemed appealingly different as none of us are especially familiar with Korean food.


Assorted kimchee – cabbage, radish + cucumber


Hite lager + shots – bek se ju in foreground, soju behind


To warm us up on this cold, wet evening, H and K both had a shot of soju, a clear distilled spirit that tastes like sweet vodka (nice enough, not very exciting) and I had a bek se ju, rice-based alcoholic drink with 10 herbs and ginseng (unusual, medicine-like, glad I’ve tried it but probably wouldn’t drink it again).

And we all had a hite, a Korean lager brewed from barley, malt and rice (nicely malty taste) along with modum kimchee or assorted pickles @ £7.00: cabbage, radish and cucumber (crunchy in a very hot chilli sauce). K can’t bear cucumber but he loved this.


IMG_1507_ohjing oh bok eum
Ohjing oh bok eum – stir fried squid in a spicy chilli sauce (4-chilli rating…hot!)


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Mandu – vegetable dumplings with soy sauce


IMG_5081_veg mandu
Vegetable mandu (dumplings)


We shared two starters between the three of us: ohjing oh bok eum, stir fried squid and vegetables in a spicy chilli sauce @ £6.90 (one of the hottest menu items with a four-chilli rating/warning) – the squid was tender and the sauce fiery, and mandu, vegetable dumplings @ £5.90 that were quite simply the best dumplings any of us had ever had (soft, squidgy veg in the middle, inside a crispy toasted parcel).


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Prawn bibimbap – served unstirred, with an egg yolk, in hot stoneware


Prawn bibimbap – with Korean chilli paste mixed in


For main course, I had a prawn bibimbap @ £10.90 – tiny prawns, vegetables, rice and an egg yolk served in a hot stone bowl with Korean chilli paste (the stone bowl is so hot that all the ingredients cook through, as you mix them together).


IMG_1511_pork bibimbap
Marinated pork bibimbap – fresh ingredients served in hot stoneware


H had a pork bibimbap @ £10.50 and K – we agreed – totally lucked out with his dish of barbeque beef bulgogi @ £12.20 (as recommended by our waiter), “thinly sliced beef marinated in a delicious blend of fruits, soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, onion and garlic, served with lettuce and soybean paste” which he ate in lettuce leaf sandwiches as you can see…


Barbeque beef bulgogi – a Chef’s special (and it certainly is!)


IMG_5086_Barbeque beef bulgogi
Sizzling barbeque beef bulgogi – thinly sliced beef marinated in a blend of fruits, soy sauce, sesame oil, etc


Although we were full, we shared two desserts between the three of us:


Green tea ice-cream @ £4.60


Mango + chilli ice-cream mochi @ £4.00, with a steamed rice cake coating


The verdict: A serendipitous find, Hana Korean restaurant seems to be a well kept secret. Great quality food, fabulously spicy, and good value too. I’ll be trying one of the meaty barbeque dishes (a bulgogi) next time.


Restaurant interior


Hana Korean on Battersea Rise


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Korean
~ Address: 60 Battersea Rise, London
~ Postcode: SW11 1EG
~ Nearest station: Clapham Junction
~ Photos on flickr: images of Hana Korean food
~ Hana on facebook: Hana Korean page
~ Location: Hana Korean map



Hana Korean on Urbanspoon


Bibimbab Cafe

Korean cafe in Bloomsbury – a serendipitous find

Bi.Bim.Bab. Bibimbab. I just wanted to say Bibimbab, it’s such a great word. It means ‘rice mixed with vegetables’ in Korean apparently.

And we (three Ls) ended up at Bibimbab Cafe for a late lunch yesterday quite by chance.

Bibimbab Cafe on Museum Street

We were planning on going somewhere “cheap n cheerful and pretty amazing too” and had decided on Orchard Kitchen from a fairly long list. Orchard don’t do reservations so I’d emailed them a week earlier to check they were open yesterday, with it being a Bank Holiday Monday, but they didn’t reply. We turned up anyway and they were closed (tsk! struck off our list).

A short stroll around Bloomsbury later and we were tossing an imaginary coin between Thai Garden Cafe and the Korean cafe opposite, on Museum Street (near the British Museum). Two of us hadn’t been to a Korean restaurant before, so hey – it was calling out to be tried.

Freshly served Dolsot Bibimbab – in hot stoneware @ £8.00

The helpful cafe patron recommended beef dolsot bibimbab, one of the bibimbab specialities, served in a (super-hot!) hot stone bowl, with chimchi (pickles) and a very tasty chilli sauce.

We were all happy to follow her recommendation (when in Rome and all that).

It was served to the table as a dish containing warm white rice, sauteed carrots, bean shoots, cress and other vegetables, beef and an egg, not yet mixed together (like the photo above), along with a pair of solid chrome chopsticks.

Once served you immediately stir it all together. As the stone dish is so hot, it carries on sizzling and cooking, and retains its heat. This was nicely spicy and well seasoned without being overly hot in a spice sense. It was incredibly hot in a heat sense.

Stirring n sizzling

This was a new experience for me, and one that I really enjoyed. The components of a bibimbab are all healthy. Mixed together with chilli sauce it’s super tasty. And it’s not overly filling either.

Bibimbab Cafe is clean and cosy on the inside. It’s quite small but you can reserve a table (most tables were reserved or taken on our visit yesterday). It’s a place I could imagine hanging out quite comfortably and leisurely, reading a book or a paper, space permitting.

All in all, a very satisfying lunch for just under £10 (including a tea @ £1.50)

Bright, cosy cafe

Bibimbab ingredients at the counter

Oh, and I like the loo doodles too:

IMG_6078_loo_doodles at Bibimbab Cafe
Loo doodles (not this Lou)


Bi.Bim.Bab. Bi! bim! bab!
Pow! Sweat! Pow!
Serendipity in a cafe.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Korean
~ Address: 37 Museum Street, London
~ Postcode: WC1A 1LP
~ Tel: 020 7404 8880
~ Nearest station: Holborn, Tottenham Court Road
~ Website + menus: Bibimbab Cafe website
~ Bibimbab Cafe photos on flickr
~ Location: Bibimbab Cafe map


More nearby dining (Covent Garden):
~ Maxwells – gourmet burgers at Covent Garden
~ Sarastro – Opera themed Turkish restaurant on Drury Lane
~ Sitaaray – Bollywood themed Indian restaurant on Drury Lane

Bibimbab Cafe on Urbanspoon