Monday, 1 August 2011

Assa - My First Taste of Korea

What I know about Korean food you could write on a back of a postage stamp and still have room to write all I know about West African food as well. Ie squat.
So this is not going to be a post about my amazing new discovery and how I am now an expert and all knowledgeable on Korean food. No this is going to be about a simple bowl of spicy beef soup and other waffle.

I know nothing about Korea, except they make bloody good horror and psycho thrillers and have some rather graphic food scenes in their films. Oh and of course MASH, which was most of the West’s perception of Korea in the 70’s and early 80’s.
I know a few people, who’ve been to Korea, but they have all also visited Japan first, and I think they have all compared the two, and Japan has always been the better of the two. But I want to meet someone who has been to Korea and not Japan to tell me what a wonderful place it is to visit.

I remember watching an episode of Diary of a Foodie about Korea and it looks fantastic, with food ranging from simple rustic food to complex dishes fit for an Emperor. Definitely worth checking out the series if you can.
So on a recent mid week visit to central London we ended up outside a trio of Korean restaurants close to Tottenham Court Road station at lunchtime.

For some reason the other restaurants were empty, except for Assa. Now for me this speaks volumes for a place, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this is, especially as everyone inside was Korean. No guesses where we ate.
As we had to head off to apply for our Chinese visa, we could really just grab and go. So we both ordered the Beef Spicy soup. I needed something with a kick, and the wife hates tofu. So all other soups were off the menu.

The broth wasn’t as hot as I was expected, but it got hotter as I slowly worked my way through it to the bottom. I loved the deep red color of the soup and the beef was super tender and so flavourful.
The soup came with a bowl of rice, which after living in Colombia and visiting ever other country throughout Latin America, I’ve gotten used to having rice with my soups, and actually kind of prefer it really. It’s a good way of beefing one up shall we say.

I’m not a fan other anything but wooden chopsticks, so to be given flat metal chopsticks was a tad of a pain. It took me the whole meal before I could get used to them.

I do love the down to earthness of this place, it has no pretence it does what it says on the tin. Good honest Korean food at a good price. We will be returning to try out the rest of the menu, and improve my lack of knowledge of Korean food, except for the live octopus of course.

Assa on Urbanspoon

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