Sunday, 6 September 2009

New Seoul Restaurant review - this new kid on the block fails to perform

New+Seoul+Restaurant+review+London+ChowAfter a meal at The Fryer's Delight the last time round, we took a walk east along Theobald Road and then along Clerkenwell. Even though I was stuffed from the fish and chips consumed just before, something caught my attention - a new Korean restaurant has started business alongside the Chinese takeaway, which I have walked past countless times. That got me excited.

Currently, I get my Korean fix at Korean Kitchen just off Piccadilly Circus. However, after visiting it a couple of times, I started looking for alternatives. Surely, with the sizable Korean population in London, there will be other decent Korean restaurants outside New Malden, the Korean enclave in Greater London. Though I have tried Asadal, which is just beside Holborn, it was, in my opinion, nothing to shout about. So New Seoul Restaurant (the new Korean restaurant's name) might just be the answer.

Much as we would like, to down another dinner would be doing pure injustice to our stomachs. I decided to do a bit of sleuthing around online before sampling a meal at New Seoul.

Surprisingly, despite its short history, there are already quite a number of online reviews posted on New Seoul. More interestingly, all of these reviews are positive. In fact, the only glitch pointed out by one review was New Seoul's relatively shoddy facade. Even that was a precursor to yet another compliment heaped on the growing accolade. It does seems that New Seoul has established itself as the new kid on the block in a pretty short span of time. I'm impressed.

(Please note: I got it wrong apparently, Kake has kindly pointed out that New Seoul has been around for a couple of years. See her comment below)

Our merry band of four arrived at New Seoul on a Friday evening after work. Famished, we stumbled into New Seoul for some hot piping Korean barbecue. Unlike Asadal, New Seoul is a much smaller establishment with cosy furniture arrangement similar to Korean Kitchen. A polite Korean staff quickly showed us to the table. While my dinner mates are poring through the menu, I took a cursory glance around the shop.

As pointed out by the online reviews, New Seoul indeed has a simple layout without much of an ambiance though the dimmed lights helped a bit in that aspect. I couldn't help but noticed that there was only one staff manning the shop and because of its long and narrow layout, it took us quite a while to get his attention.

To out delight, the kimchi and beansprouts side dishes were complimentary. Although that is taken for granted in Korea, there are very few Korean restaurants based in London that serve them free. We gobbled that out within seconds and proceeded to order another portion of kimchi (£3) when we learnt that it was not 'refillable'.

believe me, the seafood tasted better than it looked

The seafood pancake (£6.80) was the first to arrive. My first impression was that it would look a whole lot more palatable if served in a plate with a lighter shade of colour. Other than the presentation, it actually tasted quite good. Curiously it reminded me of a damp roti john (popular in Malay street fare) sold on the streets back home.

the fried chicken is chunky and sweet, though not so fresh

The fried chicken in sweet lemon sauce (£8.50) comes in huge chunks with bones in them. Perhaps we were expecting the same boneless pieces over at Korean Kitchen but we noticed that there was some discolouration between the bones and meat, a sign that the chicken could have been fresher.

the fish broth was a winner

The fish broth (£7.50) that comes with a serving of rice turned out to be the surprise winner. The generous portion of fish came with commendable texture. However, I would recommend it as a dish to be shared as having it as a main would be a tad too boring.

the barbecue was a huge disappointment

We ordered a portion of pork (£7.50) and beef (£9.50) for the barbecue. That was perhaps that most disappointing part of the meal. The pork tasted a bit past the due date while the beef reminded us of the 'mini steak' that we had at Crane & Tortoise - bland, tough with a tinge of water still in it. We had to doused the meats in sauces provided to make it somewhat palatable.

Though the food served at New Seoul is passable, I seriously don't think that warrants the superb reviews on it posted online. I wouldn't be in a hurry to return again. Looking at the expressions of my dinner mates, I'm not the only one who will be sticking to Korean Kitchen.

Address: 164 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1R 5DU
Tel: 020 7278 8674
Nearest Tube station: Farringdon

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £20 pp
Service charge: 10%
Taste: **
Service: ***
Ambience: **
Suitable for: those looking for a quick Korean meal and you absolutely do not want to go beyond Clerkenwell area.

New Seoul on Urbanspoon

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Kake said...

It's not new... it's been there since at least 2003, which is when I last visited it.

C K said...

Hi Kake,
Thanks for pointing that out. You're right and I've inserted a note within the post. Cheers!

Kake said...

No problem, you're welcome. Thanks for the review — I had this on my to-do list (I think it was the first place I ever ate Korean food, and I wanted to go back now I have more experience) but I may give it a miss now.