After endless hunting in all the wrong places, was this finally it? Had we found a great Korean BBQ place within striking distance of London?
I discovered my passion for Korean BBQ on a visit to Seoul a few years ago. This was reignited when I visited San Francisco last year and ever since, I’ve been desperate to find somewhere to enjoy the experience without going long haul!
So we took a train out of Clapham into “the beyond” (or New Malden as it’s also known). The area didn’t look particularly promising but the restaurant certainly did. I was surprised when we got there because the place was so jam packed that we had to queue. Jin Go Gae was like a little oasis of vibrancy amongst the greyness of suburbia. Granted, it was a Saturday night, but it was the crowd that convinced us that this was going to be worth the wait. There wasn’t a single non-Asian face in sight! Well, aside from the pasty faced Northerner I had in tow. Let’s call him the Hog.
Once we were seated, it also became apparent that our waiter spoke very little English. This allowed us to get away with ordering just one portion of the bulgogi short rib (menu states minimum order of two). Be aware that it is standard in Korean restaurants to receive a few free appetisers at the start (beansprouts, pickles, etc). If you are not Korean, be prepared to have to ask for them. Also do not wear anything you do not want to smell of smoke and barbecue for the next few days.
The food was by far the best Korean we’ve had in the UK. The search is finally over! The seafood pancake was everything you could hope for. Crispy, deep fried we think (oink!) and delicious, not doughy and floury as it is in so many other Korean restaurants. The barbecue here is generous and meaty. None of these portions of wafer thin meat you find elsewhere. The beef short rib was sticky and sweet, the meat soft and tender. The squid was super fresh and a good amount too. The waiters will help you cook the meat if they are not too busy but the fun part is being able to have a go yourself.
The raw beef bibimbap is a good side dish to order. This is served in a searing hot stone bowl and the ingredients are cooked by the residual heat as you mix them together. If you are unsure as to what to order, take a look around and see what’s popular and what looks good. We often employ this tactic if we are not familiar with the cuisine.
This is a great place to come for something a bit different. It’s authentic and a good change from all the non-descript Indian, Chinese and Thai. What’s more, it’s not expensive. Meal for two with beers (I recommend Hite) and including service came to £68. Don’t forget to order kimchi!
Address: Jin Go Gae, 272 Burlington Road, New Malden KT3 4NL (Google listing is Jin Go Jae but it’s the same place)
Phone: 020 8949 2506
Nearest Station: Motspur Park