229-231 High Holborn
London WC1V 7DA
0207 430 9006
Location-wise, Asadal has got it right. It is literally next to the exit at Holborn Tube Station, and faces the busy junction between High Holborn and Kingsway.
The restaurant is in the basement and it far bigger than its tiny entrance would suggest. We went for a couple of the dishes that we usually order at any Korean restaurant, which would give us a good idea of how the food stands in relation to our favourite Korean restaurant, Bi Won, and also because we love those dishes anyway. D briefed us that the staff is quite picky to the way the food is served and eaten, and insist that they serve us.
First up was the Jap Chae. This is Korean glass noodes fried with beef slices and some vegetables. This version is very different to the Jap Chae we are used to. There is no fragrance of sesame oil in this dish at Asadal, and it is the first time we’ve seen beansprouts in our Jap Chae. Our impression of what Jap Chae should be has been formed by our experiences in Bi Won and Koba, so seeing a Jap Chae done in this way was quite a surprise to us. We compared it to fried bee hoon, since essentially, if the glass noodles were swapped for vermicelli, the dish would be exactly like fried bee hoon! Can’t say we didn’t like it, since it was very tasty, but we kind of felt cheated that we didn’t get a Jap Chae (as we understood it to be). We’re going to Korea in October, so maybe when we’ve had Jap Chae in a proper Korean restaurant we will be able to comment more accurately on the different versions! Watch this space.
The Korean pancake is another dish we order all the time. In Bi Won we really like the Kimchi pancake, but Asadal didn’t have it on their menu, so we ordered Pa Jeon, the seafood pancake. This was very delicious, and texturally reminded us of Or Luat (Fried oysters with egg, a Singapore favourite, dammit I want a plate of good Or Luat so badly now…). The pancake was a little light on seafood I thought, but the spring onions were very fragrant, and it was not short on taste at all, so the seafood was kind of not missed too much. We had a Bibimbap as well, which was also very yummy.
Finally, we ordered 3 portions of meat to barbecue, and an assortment of sides like lettuce, garlic and chilli etc to eat the meats with. They were all nicely marinated and very delicious. The problem I have with Korean barbecue is that I tend to always feel like the portions are always quite small, so while the meats are really flavourful and delicious (or maybe precisely because they are,) I always wish they’d given me just one more slice than they did to satisfy me just that little bit more.
Finally, we had some green tea ice-cream, which was definitely very homemade, but perhaps slightly too milky for A’s liking. We sat and chatted for a really long time, and it was very nice that they did not drop any subtle hints to get us to pay up and leave (unlike those horrible people at most restaurants in Chinatown), so more points awarded in the service department!