We didn’t really enjoy our first experience of Korean cuisine, but I loved my solo excursion to Bo Drake. We also love BBQ food, so Koba has been on our list of restaurants to dine at for almost a year, although rather low on the list. But I was browsing through our Instagram discover page and I came across a video of Koba. The table BBQ looked really innovative and intriguing… we had to try it out, and so dinner was booked for last Friday at 6PM.
Koba is a Korean restaurant in Fitzrovia focused on Korean table BBQ. It’s a cosy restaurant with minimalist décor, but the design and execution of the table BBQs are excellent. Each table has a BBQ in the centre and an exquisitely designed vent over the BBQ that completely eliminates the smell and the smoke from the BBQ.
The superb execution of the table BBQ idea is enough reason to visit the restaurant at least once, but the menu is also extensive with a good amount of starters and a good selection of meat to BBQ at your table.
What we ordered
For starters we ordered Kun Mandu (vegetable pan-fried dumpling), Koba Calamari, and Kanpoonggi (Korean fried chicken in sweet chilli sauce). For our table BBQ, Shiima ordered spicy chicken and I ordered Bulgogi (thinly sliced beef) and spicy pork belly. Shiima ordered Garlic Fried Rice with go with her spicy chicken.
Review of the Food
The Koba Calamari was good, but the vegetable dumplings and fried chicken were very good. The vegetable filling in the dumplings was delicious and the pastry was light and tasty as well. The fried chicken had the perfect amount of coating and it wasn’t overly fried… there was a lot of succulent chicken in every piece and the sweet chill sauce was very well balanced.
The calamari was decent… I couldn’t really taste much calamari but regardless it tasted good and it was crispy … which I usually don’t like, but I liked this.
Our waiter brought our fresh meats and we chose to cook the Bulgogi first. The BBQ cooking was done by teamwork… every waiter walking past checked on the meat and then checked with you first before they turned it over. I like my beef well done, so they checked with me several times before I was ready for it to be turned over… even when it was cooked, I wanted it left on the fire to crisp a little, because I love when thinly sliced beef has crisp edges.
The Bulgogi was decent, but I didn’t really enjoy it with the dipping sauces that we were given – sesame oil with salt, and BBQ sauce. I asked for chilli sauce and the chilli sauce they gave me was excellent – spicy yes, but with flavour. The sauce enhanced my enjoyment of the Bulgogi.
Shiima’s spicy chicken was next to be cooked and soon as it was done and cut into pieces, she mixed it into her garlic fried rice. I had a small piece of the chicken and it was incredibly succulent and delicious, and Shiima agrees as she devoured the chicken and the fried rice, which had a tad too much garlic for her liking but was still enjoyable.
The spicy pork belly wasn’t as I expected. I wanted (and prefer) thicker slices of pork belly, but these were thinly sliced, which essentially made them bacon rashers. The spicy marinade was excellent though… a bit like the spicy dipping sauce, it was spicy but also had flavour. The naturally delicious taste of pork belly mixed with the excellent spicy marinade and then BBQ’d over low heat made for an amazing and tender dish.
I have no idea if they serve dessert, because we didn’t even bother asking.
Koba is an excellent innovative restaurant with delicious Korean food, a slick but cosy atmosphere, and professional service. I’d recommend for dates (almost everyone around us was on a date), foodies, casual family dinners, and medium sized groups (6-8 max). Koba is also very moderately priced.
Cuisine: Korean Cuisine; Table BBQ Speciality
Dress Code: Casual
Shiima’s Favourite Dish: Kun Mandu (Vegetable)
Amen’s Favourite Dish: Spicy Pork Belly
Price: £30-£40pp (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 4.3 out 5