UPDATE (August 2015): Looks like Seoul Bakery is reopening in the Bloomsbury area (14 Great Russell Street). Yay!
UPDATE (Jan 2015): Sadly, Seoul Bakery, along with the rest of the Korean restaurants on TCR have closed- https://londonist.com/2015/01/centre-points-koreatown-wiped-out-by-crossrail.php
If you’re looking for Korean food in London that’s as cheap as chips, look no further!
Seoul Bakery is one of my favourite local haunts- it’s affordable, central, and super tasty. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly popular, and more often than not you’ll see a long line of people (mostly Asian students) vying to have a meal in this tiny shoebox of a restaurant, which only has 12 seats. The restaurant has a very strict first come, first serve policy- so try to get there early.
The menu itself isn’t very extensive compared to Seoul Bakery’s other Korean counterparts on St Giles High Street, but their prices are definitely unbeatable. You can pay a little extra to upgrade your meal and add extra toppings to whatever you’re having (e.g. meat, fried egg, cheese, kimchi) , and some dishes offer the option to upgrade to a set meal.
First up, some hot barley tea to warm ourselves up after a long wait in the cold. I’m not really sure how to describe the taste of barley tea- it has a roasted, nutty flavour that’s soothing and refreshing at the same time. Some people think it tastes like coffee, but I disagree. Give it a try; it supposedly has many health benefits!
Next up, vegetable kimbap– for £2.50 this was a super generous portion. The literal translation for kimbap is ‘seaweed rice’, the two main components of this dish. Other ingredients (in this case spinach, egg, carrot and danmuji (pickled radish)) are also added to create a roll. This dish was simple yet satisfying, and I loved how the radish and carrots gave the dish some crunch and sweetness.
Afterwards came the chicken bibimbap- a mixed rice topped with different vegetables (bean sprouts, zucchini, lettuce, carrots), mushrooms and a fried egg. Gochujang (a sweet and hot pepper paste- one of my all-time favourite condiments) is provided, so remember to add it liberally and mix well!
It’s really hard to go wrong with this dish- the gochujiang goes really well with the rice and the rest of the ingredients, and the egg yolk leaks out onto the dish and wraps it up with its lovely blanket of buttery creaminess.
We also ordered a cheese toppoki- a hot and spicy rice cake dish, served with boiled eggs, fish cakes, and topped off with two slices of melted cheese singles. Whilst a little on the small side, this dish is like a party in your mouth. I love how Korean rice cakes are so incredibly chewy, and the cheese transforms this dish into the perfect winter warmer.
Last but not least, we ordered a Haemul Pajeon, or seafood pancake. I know this sounds a bit strange, but it’s not the normal sweet ones you get that are drizzled with maple syrup and berries. Instead, a savoury batter is combined with spring onions and seafood slices (predominantly squid) and then fried to create a crispy, fragrant and fluffy treat. I would definitely recommend this dish to anyone who’s a bit afraid of spicy food, or would like to try out a Korean snack for the first time.
Before you leave, don’t forget to write a message on the wall 🙂
In short, Seoul Bakery is definitely a great place to go if you want a quick and cheap Korean fix, but don’t try to bring a big party or you’ll be waiting forever.