Jason Allen 12/05/23
If you’ve never had Korean BBQ, here’s how it goes down.
The grill recessed neatly into the table you’re sitting at is fired up, and the table is pretty much covered in banchan – little side dishes – containing kimchi, house-made pickles, beansprouts, and more. Somehow more room is found for the actual main course, a parade of marinated meats, seafood, veggies, or whatever else you’ve ordered. The waiter or waitress will then grill everything for you, to your taste, and you’ll find yourself sampling what feels like dozens of different delicious morsels before realising you’re full to bursting. When it’s done right, it’s wonderful.
And it’s definitely done right at Chungdam.
The neighbourhood that Chungdam is named after is a small, restaurant-dense enclave of the fancy Gangnam district in Seoul… which makes its location on Greek Street sort of like placing Chungdam in London’s own Chungdam. It comes to us courtesy of the same people behind the brilliant Hongdae Pocha – but while that particular gem is a gloriously kitsch Korean pub, this place is altogether more refined. The understated eggshell walls, and the green marble tables certainly don’t scream ‘BBQ place’ at you, but that’s literally what it is. Only it somehow pulls it all off with a fair degree of elegance.
So, the menu. For your Korean BBQ experience, you could everything from marinaded short ribs, to fillet mignon, to thinly sliced bulgogi, pork belly, brisket, salted chicken thigh – we could go on. Whatever you spring for, it’ll be cooked to your liking for you. But here, you can also get a rarity outside of Korea: a Pyeonbaek steam box, in which a three tiered wooden box filled on each layer with mixed seafood, meat, and vegetables is set on the grill to steam everything inside. The broth that collects below is then used as a base for a soup, into which the freshly cooked ingredients are piled with noodles. It’s extremely impressive. (But be warned, if you couldn’t help but notice the word ‘meat’ being thrown around willy-nilly, that’s no accident – there isn’t a gigantic amount of veggie or vegan stuff on offer.)
Of course there are cocktails to go with all of this (including a particularly nice house special made with makgeolli, a lightly sparkling Korean rice wine) as well as an array of sojus, plum wine, house beer, and good ol’ grape wines too. But the real kicker? The restaurant has a karaoke room below it.
And no, the waiter will not do the singing for you.
NOTE: Chungdam is open now, Monday to Saturday. You can find out more, and make a booking at their website right here.
Chungdam | 35-36 Greek St, W1D 5DL
Want to see what else is out there? Here are the best Korean restaurants in London…
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35-36 Greek St, Soho, Central London, W1D 5DL
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