Koba has been on a map of top Korean restaurants in London for a while. Too popular for too long? I thought it was totally running on its old reputation. How wrong was I….
The place is quite small. I was there on Tuesday evening and all the tables on the ground floor were taken. In the first room there is a bar, where you can sit and actually see how the dishes are prepared. Walking further into restaurant, there is a second room with just standard tables, with the barbeque station in the middle of each table.
The crowd is very mixed but at least 30% of the clients were Asian. The staff is Asian as well. Their English is good but sometimes can be hard to understand…well, it does make this place more authentic!
The speciality of Koba is the Korean BBQ. However, the menu is quite wide and includes lots of Korean hot pots as well. The key to Korean BBQ is the fresh ingredients, which Koba definitively excels at! For those of you, who are not familiar with Korean BBQ, it is a BBQ pan built in in the table on which you can fry meat, veggies, seafood. The pieces of meat/seafood are very thin and when ready to eat, it is rolled in a lettuce leaves with BBQ sauces and fresh veggies.
We ordered the Koba classic BBQ mix, which included different kinds of beef, chicken, pork, prawns, octopus. Beef and prawns were delicious! Whereas pork slightly too fatty for my standards ( I am the one who cuts out all of the white bits on the meat…) and octopus turned out to be a bit too chewy after we bbq’ed it… Next time, I would probably do not order a mix but plates with beef, prawns and chicken only.
Following that we had a portion of fried Kimchi rice, which disappeared from the plate within 2 mins. (I am not exaggerating here!) This rice… fried with kimchi and a fried egg on the top. Amaze balls! The flavour could not be better – the spices and amount of kimchi was just the way it should be. The dish was not dry, not too spicy, the taste of kimchi was not strong at all. My favourite rice dish ever, it even tops up paella! I have already got some kimchi and will be trying my luck with this dish very soon :)
We also tried gyoza, which was not too impressive… If I got frozen gyozas from Japanese Centre and heated it up in my oven, the quality would be similar…
Saying that, there were quite a few starters/side dishes that I spotted on other tables that looked amazing. Also, the hot pots were very popular with Asian customer so next time I am in Koba I will definitely go for one of those! Btw. I have already booked a table at Koba for the next time, which says it’s all :)