Korean food is taking over London, and we’re not mad about it. Korean bbq and bibimbap restaurants and street food stalls are popping up left, right and centre – so we thought we’d go check them out. We’ll put our hands up – the first venue's dish isn’t *strictly* bibimbap, but the elements within the dish are comparable (and really tasty, too). Our taste testers Kemoh and Louisa were on the lookout for tasty, tender beef, sour, tangy pickles, perfectly cooked rice, and spicy, delicious sauce. Here’s what they found. 

 

KORRITO

 

 
This has got a good spice to it. I like the sesame seed dressing, and that it’s warm and cold. The kimchi rice is really tasty. Because this is a street food stall, it’s nice to have it all mixed up already. It’s not too spicy, it doesn’t burn your palette. If you come and get this for lunch, your tongue isn’t going to be stinging for the rest of the day. The gochujang, the hot sauce is delicious. It’s paprika paste with Korean vinegar, sesame oil and garlic, they let us know. I really like it. The pickle of the kimchi with the grease of the meat is lovely, it cuts through the fat. The salad has a bit of coriander in it – it’s a bit like a pico de gallo kind of salsa. I should’ve sprinkled even more sesame on top, I’d like even more of a crunch. It’s not too filling, it’s got something fresh, it’s got some protein, it’s a very good size, even if you’re very hungry. It’s a bit like a burrito bowl, but with Korean food. It could be a tiny bit warmer for me, that’s all I’d change. And maybe some extra kimchi, a bit on the side.
— Louisa
I really like the texture of the rice. It’s so easy to cook rice badly. The beef is nice and soft. With some beef you feel like you’re working to chew it – not with this one. It’s tenderised with Korean pear, they told us. More people should do that. The gochujang sauce gives it a little kick. There’s a nice amount of beef. I’m a big meat-eater, so usually when I eat out I feel shortchanged. I’m not gonna be happy. But this is the perfect balance, with a very very generous portion. There’s a lot of flavour, and a lot of different things going on in your mouth. It tastes much better than it looks.
— Kemoh

Korrito, 337-338 Belvedere Rd, London. £7.95

 

ON THE BAB

 

 
 
It doesn’t taste of a lot, does it? Super cold mushrooms, which is weird. They feel like they’ve just come out the fridge. The egg is meant to melt over the rice, to make it really sticky and nice, this one isn’t soft enough. This doesn’t do that. The beef isn’t flavoured enough, the carrots not pickled enough. I like the cucumber strips, and I like the yellow pickles. That’s pretty much it. The rice is sticky, but a bit plain. The dish could be sharper, and more acidic. Everything feels a bit like it’s just been taken out of the fridge, I feel like I’m eating takeaway from yesterday. To be honest, this is quite sh*t. It’s cold and doesn’t taste very nice.
— Louisa
There’s a lot going on in a small space. It’s a bit too many different tastes for me. The rice is just plain rice. The beef is really tender, which I like. The mushrooms are way too cold. I don’t get the egg. It doesn’t add anything. The red sauce isn’t doing much for me, it’s not adding a lot to the flavour. It’s more smoky than spicy, like paprika. I’d want some more pickles in this to make it better. I’m not a fan. The staff were rude, too, which doesn’t help make the food taste any better. I feel like if this was your first experience of bibimbap, you’d never try it again.
— Kemoh
 
 

On the bab36 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7BD. £9.50

 
 

BIBIMBAP

 

 
I love that this is sizzling! It’s got a hot bowl. The beef doesn’t look super attractive, but it tastes very beefy – very meaty. There isn’t a lot of it, either. The pickles are really good, more sweet-pickled than sour. The mushrooms are nice, they’re really juicy and squidgy, and thankfully they’re hot. I’d like more of them. They’re the best thing about this dish. The sauce is smoky, but it isn’t as good as the sauce at Korrito, that one was best. It looks nice when the pickles are thin like this, it’s like a colourful painting. I feel like this bowl is quite generic – a bit mainstream. It’s got all the elements that you’re expecting, but they’re not crazy exciting. The more I eat this, the less I like it. It’s like fast food. Good fast food, but there’s only so far you can go.
— Louisa
I’m getting the flavours from this straight away. You can hear the sizzle. It’s always a good sign when food is steaming, I think. The beef is quite chewy. I really like that it’s hot, it adds to he taste for me. It’s not a very generous portion. The sauce has a tiny bit go a kick to it, but not enough. I really like that the bowl is hot - the rice sticks to it and caramelises a bit. I’d like the pickles to be more sour; I feel like the beefiness of the meat almost overpowers this. My breath is beefy, I can smell it. I want more flavour, more pickle and more spice. This is fine, but I feel like you’d forget about this shortly after leaving the restaurant.
— Kemoh

Bibimbab, 11 Greek Street, London W1D 4DJ. £7.50

 

KOBA

 

 
The smell alone is making my mouth water. The beef is a little bit spicy, it’s really aromatic but not overpowering. The cucumber is really spicy too, which takes you by surprise but is really nice. The emulsion of the egg, it’s so tasty. This immediately feels saucy. The carrots are nice and crunchy. You’ve got hard, you’ve got soft, you’ve got sticky, you’ve got chewy. It’s a great mouthful – it’s a very harmonious dish. I’d like the pickles to be a bit more pickled, though. The beef is a little bit braised on the outside, which is nice. I like the atmosphere here – I love that it’s at a bar, I love the steam vents.
— Louisa
I finally get the egg, now it makes sense. Everything is tied together, the consistency of the rice is creamy but not too soft, it’s really nice. I really like the presentation, too. The dish was brought over, it was steaming hot with the perfect yolk on top, the sauce was added and then it was all mixed, all the flavours were mashed together, unsticking the rice from the sides. You’ve got every single flavour in one bite. It’s stayed hot, spicy and fresh all the way until the bottom of the bowl, which is rare with a rice dish. I like that they’ve got a more formal dining area at the back, and these bar stools at the front, so you can come here even if you don’t have much time, or are on your own and just want a quick bite.
— Kemoh
 

Koba11 Rathbone Street London W1T 1NA. £9.80


THE WINNER

 

 
Koba wins for me, with Korrito as a really close second. They’re really different experiences, so it’s hard to compare them. I loved the service at Koba, it makes the whole experience feel a little bit special. I really enjoyed the taste at Korrito, I liked that it was a little bit different, and it was very flavourful, and flavours you wouldn’t necessarily expect in Korean food but ones that worked really well. It was really fresh, too, and I loved how crunchy it was, with the addition of the salad. I loved that the kimchi was in the rice already and you could easily mix up the bowl while eating it standing. And the beef was really delicious. At Koba, every single element works. The whole experience is really enjoyable, and the food is super tasty. It feels like a treat.
— Louisa
I can’t decide between the first one and last one, Korrito and Koba… I would say Koba slightly takes the edge, just because the food is hotter and I’m indoors, but a street food stall can’t really compete with either of those two points. The first one had such a huge portion, it’s a really great price for what you get. You could almost extend that meal if you took the rest home or back to the office and snack on it later. And you’d want to, too, because it’s so tasty. That’s great value for money. The flavours were really good, the spiciness was on point, the meat was lovely. I think I’m just too much of a stickler for the temperature of a dish to ever be 100% convinced by street food. I like my food hot-hot! So the mix of standing outside and having the cold salad, those are the two things I’d change about Korrito.
— Kemoh