Continuing on in my quest for Korean food, I ushered a few friends in the direction of Tottenham Court Road and Woo Jung in order to share my enthusiasm for kimchi pancakes and hotpot! HotPot/steamboat is a type of soup/stew kept simmering in the centre of the table, to which raw ingredients are sometimes added and cooked in the duration of the meal. Perfect for sharing on cold-rainy-grey-days. After confirming that the broth would be seafood and not meat based, WingMan and I stepped up to the (large, bubbling, stew laden) plate and ordered HOTPOT for two. Our cooker landed, bringing with it an abundance of jaw-tingling anticipation.
Haemul Sundubu Jjigae. I think.
A spicy seafood and silken tofu stew with countless other ingredients, including spring onions, fresh chillies, mushrooms, courgettes, cabbage, kimchi and gochujang (fermented condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt). Jigae (tend to be thicker and with heavier seasoning) are a popular part of Korean cuisine, as is fish and other seafood (the Korean peninsula is surrounded by the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, with a strait thrown in for good measure), so a combination of the two, with added CHILLI, was apt to be delicious.
The broth. HOTdamn spicy and just so red. I ate BOWLFULS of it. Do not underestimate this dish. It is definitely not for those who cannot handle a capsaicin loaded flying-double-side-kick to the face.
The stew itself was loaded with chunks of soft, well cooked seafood that WingMan and I happily prised out of shells and off of bones. Sadly, we didn’t find the squid until towards the end of our meal when it had already began its descent into chewy-rubberyness.
KIMCHI PANCAKES. The best ones I have had to date. Crisp edges and full of spicy and tangy kimchi. Somehow the plate edged ever closer to my side of the table, hidden by a convenient blockade of chillisauce and tteokbukki.
TTEOKBUKKI. Something that both HSK and I had been wanting to try for a while (damn those dramas) Though typically considered to be a snack/street food type dish, as a result of the rising interest in Korean cuisine tteokbukki is also available in Korean restaurants around the world. Mainly consisting of rice cakes and fish cakes smothered in a sweet chilli sauce, ours also came with seafood, sweet potato cellophane noodles and a BOILED EGG. I liked the noodles and the heat, and the texture of the rice cakes. However, the overall taste was too sweet for me, and the rice cakes had a faint taste of honey that I didn’t understand and didn’t really like. Also there were many mussels, which in my humble opinion, look far too much like tiny alien faces.
BIBIMBAP! (complete with action shot)
59 St Giles High St, London WC2H 8LH