"Asadal promises a lot but the BBQ is where it really delivers"Review Rating: Reviewed by T.A.O
Having heard some good things about ‘a Korean restaurant in a basement next to Holborn Tube’ we decided to look it up. When we get there, the description rings true – it is indeed in a basement next to Holborn Tube – but after descending the steep flight of stairs it becomes apparent that this is a more highfalutin take on the underground restaurant thing than we were expecting. Dim bulbs glow over caramel wood, screens divide up the restaurant carefully and almost every table comes complete with a built in stove. No doubt, Asadal is an attractive restaurant.
Korean street food is having a moment right now but at Asadal it is all about the culinary classics of the country. The national dish of bi bim bap features but there are more interesting routes to take than the clay bowl filled with rice, veg and meat. Having once ordered the set menu at Mangal in Dalston and left underwhelmed we clearly haven’t learned from our mistakes. Yep, you guessed it; we go again, we order the Set 2 BBQ menu keen to try as many different things as possible. At £28 a head we were expecting something of a feast but apparently this isn’t the Korean way.
Our mood rises and dips throughout the meal as the dishes arrive staggered. We’re on a high as we start with a delicious, spicy and salty soup but immediately lose it as we’re served a set of sickly-sweet chicken wings that don’t even live up to our local chicken shop, Ferfect Fried Chicken – and yes, that does say ‘Ferfect’. The selection of kimchi takes things up a notch as the pickled cabbage and assorted vegetables do their job and cut through the gloop left over from the chicken. The selection of BBQ meat is the high point. A waitress cranks up the stove and cooks the thinly sliced pork and steak in front of us. The meat morsels are wrapped in lettuce leaves with bean curd, pickles and rice. Delicious. It’s like a more sophisticated version of Peking duck. Or an even more sophisticated version of a packet of Salt ‘n’ Shake.
The meal comes to a total of £85 for two including beers and service. It feels like a steep price to pay for a menu that didn’t do anything to persuade us that we’d made the right decision in seeking out this Korean basement. One piece of advice; steer clear of the set menu and go straight for the BBQ, which seems to be Asadal’s secret weapon.
T.A.O reviewed Asadal on Tue 16 Dec 2014