Thursday 3 July 2014

On the Bab

I am always up for sampling an unfamiliar cuisine, stemming from a country that on first sight probably seems a little alien to us in its eating habits. In a world where Italian and Chinese food have been so heavily tailored to suit the Western palette I cherish the chance to try dishes that introduce me to completely new and unknown flavours, something that to me is one of the main pleasures of eating out rather than just popping into the nearest Pizza Express. Though On The Bab no doubt has had some Western inspiration in their menu ( their take on the Italian aranchini rice balls finished of with the Korean national dish Kimchi  which is unconventionally mixed with cheese), it offered me the perfect introduction into the Korean kitchen. I have always been a big fan of Kimchi, fermented and deliciously spicy Chinese cabbage, which I had tried on numerous occasions in Japanese restaurants and thus had high hopes when I sat down at a table in this small yet bustling new restaurant a few minutes walk from Old Street roundabout. 

They may have, alongside 99% of restaurants in London, also bought into the small plates concept but here it really works and allows you to try a little bit of everything Korean food has to offer. And that is as it turned out a lot! Whether the classic bimbimbap, rice topped with juicy, spicy and slow cooked pieces of chicken, a fried egg and lots of fresh veg which was delicious and far from heavy, kimchi pancakes that illustrated the Koreans' love of all things fried ( the fried chicken though not sampled by us no doubt looked finger licking good!) or my absolute favourite of the evening the 'light as cloud' like buns, filled in our case with a spicy yet sweet sauce and incredible vegetable fritters. It is hard to summarise the Korean kitchen in a few words, for me it was lighter than that of the Chinese and very different to the usual Asian flavours I have sampled before in Vietnamese and Japanese cooking. All plates come in a vegetarian, pork, chicken or beef version and are more than generous in their serving, resulting in me and my dining companion leaving stuffed and more than keen to make a return visit to  order what we didn't quite have the space left for! Korean food was a pleasant and very tasty surprise and On the Bab with friendly service, flawless presentation ( I was a particular fan of the metal bowls) and amazing prices, the perfect place to get my first but definitely not last taste of this cuisine!