Friday, 23 November 2012

Assa (Korean food)

Before coming to London, Korean food was just something I had never encountered or bothered to try, maybe because I assumed that Korean dishes were nothing more than thrown-together variations of Kimchi, or because of their long, complicated names. Also, I was probably contented with my Japanese food obsession, and felt that Japanese food was the only other type of Oriental food I needed in my life. I don't know if this is a good comparison, but it's like if you took up French as your second language and went around rambling 'comment allez-vous' and plus belles phrases en français, I don't think you'd be in a hurry to learn Danish and greet someone with 'hvordan har du det' anytime soon.

Anyway, it was a busy Saturday night in Soho, and all the restaurants were piling up with people. Thank god for Chinatown, which has several rows of Asian food-places. My friends and I settled on Assa, a Korean restaurant on Romilly Street, and we got in after about 15 minutes of waiting time.

Google images helps the lazy blogger

As one of my friends pointed out, it was one of those places which would make your hair reek – one would inevitably leave the restaurant smelling like a walking Kimchi stalk. Nevertheless, the place was filled with the warm, happy and comforting aroma of Asian food which only served to entice our appetites.

Like many other cheaper Asian restaurants in London, you are there for the food, and not the atmosphere. The tables were small and rectangular, and the place was noisy and busy – not an ideal place for long conversations or catching-up, something in-common with most Asian restaurants in London. You are rushed in, you are served, you are shoved out via implying stares from waitresses.

A must-try in Assa is the Kimchi fried rice. (Kimchi 'Bokumbop') We had two plates of those but I would've been happy with two more. It is served with a fried egg atop, yolk still runny, and sigh-inducing when leaked and eaten with the fried rice. The rice was made tasty with the kimchi, and had a lovely smoky taste that all good fried rice dishes have.

Then we had Kimchi noodle soup and a Kimchi hot pot which seemed like nothing but a whole lot of Kimchi to me, but filled me up decently.

We then got a Kimchi pancake, (kimchijeon) which was Kimchi and who-knows-what-else deep fried in a golden tempura-like batter served with tempura sauce. (Or the Korean equivalent) It was crispy, warm, tasty and absolutely yummy.

After the dinner, we hung out at Starbucks until they chased us out onto the streets with the partygoers and drunken people at 11pm. Central London in the night is satisfying in a strange way whenever you are out with friends.

23 Romilly Street
UK W1D 5
020 7734 9050

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