Asadal: Still delivering (May 2016)

Appearances can be deceptive, so don’t be put off by the slightly incongruous location (pretty much next door to Holborn underground station) or grubby frontage. Descend the steps and you could almost be in Seoul. I first ate at Asadal over ten years ago and prior to a recent evening visit, not for some five or so. Despite the emergence of several newer and funkier Korean up-starts (such as Little Venice’s Gogi or the expanding Kimchee min-chain), Asadal continues to deliver. The restaurant itself is a large basement space, but tables are well-spaced and the mellow wood panelling lends a calm feel to the place. The menus themselves look as if they have perhaps seen better days and could perhaps do with a revamp, but what you come here for is the food. Based on the number of Koreans dining, many would clearly seem to agree. We began with a selection of kimchee (pickled vegetables – predominantly cabbage – with spice), followed this with two starters and concluded with two mains. There was little to fault any of our dishes. They arrived speedily, were presented well and delivered in terms of taste. A wide range is available here and so while I enjoyed a bibimbap (a stone bowl with beef slices, rice, vegetables and a raw egg), my comrade partook in some beef freshly fried in front of him. Cutting-edge this may not necessarily be, but what Asadal loses in this respect, it certainly gains in terms of authenticity. At c£30/head including beer and service, it is also a reasonably priced dining experience to enjoy.