medeum kimchi (kimchi assortment); yook hwei (seasoned raw beef with sliced pears)

I spent the last two days frolicking in Lille and seriously upping my body fat content on buttery croissants and sucre crepes, arriving back to L-town just tonight, so I’ve had zilch time to blawg all weekend. The withdrawal symptoms were not nearly as awful as I expected, there were some involuntary tourette style twitches involved, but nothing that couldn’t be satiated by yet another macaroon. Anyways, it’s not like I have nothing to talk blog about (as if I could ever run out of chatter). In the tradition of other crazy-obsessive bloggers before me, here’s one I prepared earlier.

Hit me with a baby back kalbi (galbee, whatever), baby.

So. How much do I love Koba in Fitzrovia? No seriously, ask me.  

I love it.

Ask me again!

I love it.

I love it so much that I would totally marry it, right after my marriage to pavlova. In fact, I would even go so far as to say I’d marry Koba first, because it promises me years of hot, sizzling, adulterous, toe-curling pleasure, where as pavlova, well pavlova can be my dirty little secret.

There are a number of reasons why my boyfriend and I live in central central London, amongst the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street and the crucible of fragrances that is London’s West End. More importantly, we live a stone’s throw from Charlotte Street, West End’s little eating haunt where I am so regular at Siam Central that food is automatically served when I sit down.  Not as regularly (don’t worry I’m working on this, especially now that I am hellbent on my campaign to marry and devour), we indulge our craving for Korean BBQ at Koba, the one and only place to have Korean in town.

Tucked away in a corner just away from Charlotte Street, my dining experiences at Koba are always second to none. Not only does the place look and smell authentic, the owners (managers? Who knows. The people who seem to run the joint) are enthusiastically friendly (without the hovering-around-you creepiness), recommending the good dishes, not just the expensive ones.

I always, always order the yook hwei to start, a dish of cold strips of seasoned beef, topped with slices of pear and a raw egg.  This is my very most favourite Korean dish (ok, my most favourite non-BBQ dish because when we bring out the kalbi and bulgogi, it’s a-whole-nother ball game), and I don’t know how they make it but the beef is always chilled to perfection, almost like it’s been frozen and ever so slightly defrosted so each slice of beef maintains a chill and a stiffness to its consistency that lends the yook hwei its original texture. 

We gotta order two of these, because one ain’t enough for me.

Other notable starters and sides include pajun (a Korean-style seafood pancake), sagchoo (sliced spring onion and in chilli and vinegar ~ I think I also monopolise this dish, oops), and kimchi of course. But we don’t need to talk about these, they are just effin’ delicious.

pajun (korean pancake with spring onion and seafood); sagchoo (sliced spring onion with chilli and vinegar)

When we get to the meats, the sure thing to order is some sort of selection platter (such as the jonghapgogi modeum ~ marinated sliced beef sirloin, sweet & spicy chicken, sweet & spicy pork), and the remaining battle is between an additional serve of kalbi or bulgogi, or kalbi, or bulgogi…  or sometimes both. There is no embarrassment in wearing the badge of shame that is over-eating.  I wear this badge proudly every single day!

kalbi (marinated beef spare ribs); jonghapgogi modeum (marinated sliced beef sirloin, sweet & spicy chicken, sweet & spicy pork)

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what you order. All of the meats are marinated awesomely, the flesh is tender and the bones are joo-oo-cy. The staff even come around to cook for you, so you don’t go and screw it up by over cooking the meat, or heck, eating raw chicken and suing their pants off for salmonella poisoning. No, they have it under control with the optimum balance between helpful presence and fuck-off-you’re-hovering and even speak the odd bit of English, better than our Korean anyway – “you say hit-teh wrong. It’s Hite. HITE.” 

And here we were, trying to be so cool.

11 Rathbone Street
London W1T 1NA
0207 580 8825

Koba on Urbanspoon

This post has been featured on Tastespotting.

13 Thoughts on “hit me with a baby back kalbi, baby.

  1. Catty, this line is excellent:

    “I would even go so far as to say I’d marry Koba first, because it promises me years of hot, sizzling, adulterous, toe-curling pleasure, where as pavlova, well pavlova can be my dirty little secret.”

    Oh wow really awesome stuff, and the pictures are really really really scrumptious, they are jumping out of the screen, its like the camera is hungry too zooming to eat the food!!

    I really want to eat here now 😀

  2. Helen on July 20, 2009 at 5:15 pm said:

    it all sounds really x rated!!

  3. kang: hehe thanks! You definitely should go check it out, and if you can’t find someone to go with, you know who to call 😉

    Helen: oh you with the dirty mind 🙂

  4. Arrrgh. I should have trawled through your blog even more for good eats when I was in London for 2 weeks Jun/Jul. I was haunting Covent Garden to Charlotte Street because that’s like my fav area to stay in London. Last trip, I started with Pied à Terre. Shall do that for the next trip soon.

  5. this make me think i need to go back to london again this summer

  6. imp: Ooo you would have been so close to Koba! Which restaurants on Charlotte St did you like?

    justcooknyc: you better hurry up, I don’t think summer’s going to last much longer! 🙂

  7. I still don’t know to say Hite. I am switching OB (I will probably say that wrong too )

  8. Robin! LOL.. I didn’t think you read this haha.. It’s ok we were just being posh and all that. HITE. HITE! Practice!

  9. I found your blog on the net and read a few of your posts. Keep up the good work. Look forward to read more from you in the future.If interested in link exchange please contact me.

  10. Podgyrobin on April 3, 2010 at 4:40 pm said:

    I love reading your posts! Thanks for reminding me about Koba! Will go sometime this month. Last time I was there we started cooking our own food for fun!

  11. Hi. I went to Koba recently having found your review. The yook hwei was yummy. Am off to Naru next week, now I’ve discovered Little Korea.

    • Yay!! I like Koba best out of ALL of them… Naru is ok.. have you tried any of the Korean places next to Tottenham Court Rd station? There is also Assa in Soho, which is nasty looking but cheap and tasty!

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