One of the most sociable, lively dining experiences is going for Korean BBQ (or gogi-gui). Korean food is becoming more popular in London, partly because Londoners love Korean Fried Chicken. But, the point of a BBQ is communal cooking at the table, so you’ll have to be ready to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.
This is most definitely a cuisine for meat eaters, rather than veggies or vegans. You choose from a variety of cuts of marinated meat (like bulgogi, thin slices of steak), as well as pork, seafood and an array of vegetables that you barbecue over a grill that is built into the table. There are plenty of casual dining places for Korean Fried Chicken or Bim Bim Bap, but Korean BBQ is more of a mid-price meal out, so budget for around £35.00–£50.00 per person. Here’s our roundup of some of the best Korean BBQ restaurants in London.
Yori (multiple locations including Covent Garden and Wimbledon)
Yori is a chain of Korean restaurants with branches in King’s Cross, Covent Garden, Richmond, Ealing, Wimbledon, Piccadilly Circus and Fulham. The BBQ menu includes cuts of steak, pork belly, marinated ribs, king prawns and spicy squid. You can also order from the BBQ Set Menu which comes with lettuce (for making mini wraps with), sliced garlic and chill, and the Yori signature BBQ sauce. There are some non-BBQ options for veggies and vegans, including doenjang jjigae, mixed vegetable and tofu soup.
Yori, Covent Garden
Kalbi is close to Exmouth Market and as you might expect, specialises in Kalbi (beef short rib). Also, unlike many of the other restaurants listed here, it’s all about BBQ at Kalbi. Space is pretty important when going out for Korean BBQ, so this is a good choice if you’re going with a large group and as it is big. Choose from two all you can eat menus which are around £30.00 per person. Menu A comes with ‘premium meats’ (rib eye, bulgogi, LA Kalbi), or the B repeat menu which includes pork and chicken bulgogi. Extras like kimchi, spinach, and lettuce are £1.00 each, and there is a decent menu of appetisers and sides like kimchi pancakes too. Wash it all down with Soju (Korean spirit), beer, or some Korean soda.
Yanji, Bethnal Green
Yanji is one for the hardcore barbeque lovers — those who are happy to eat nose-to-tail (and yes, everything in between). If that’s you, then get involved with skewers that include chicken hearts and gizzards and squid legs. But if that doesn’t appeal, then you can go for a set of 10 meat skewers (lamb, beef or mixed meat ) for around £20.00, as well as king prawns and squid.
Olle, Shaftesbury Avenue
A visit to Olle in Shaftesbury Avenue is a multi-sensory experience. The interiors are not exactly subtle, but before you can get too distracted, the waft of the grill will quickly remind you why you’re here. Book well ahead too, it’s a very popular spot for Korean BBQ in London, and with good reason. Table BBQ is a minimum of two portions per grill, and you can choose from the Olle Set menuses which range from £46.50–£76.50. The spendier option C includes Japanese Wagyu rib eye, and all sets come with lettuce and a spring onion salad. It’s worth leaving room for some sides here too, including tofu kimchi, Korean fried chicken, and toppoki (stir-fried rice cake).
If you can’t get a table for Korean BBQ in Soho or the West End, try the much quieter Fitzrovia neighbourhood. It’s another great central London spot for dining out, but generally a bit more chilled than some of its neighbours, perfect for getting a group together for a grilling. Like Olle, Koba is on the more premium end, and there is a set a la carte menu for large groups of 8 or more guests.
Gogi Korean Bar & Grill, Marble Arch
Gogi is the Korean word for meat, and grilled meat is the star of its menu. There are a couple of set options based on two or three people sharing portions. The BBQ platter is £33.50 for two people, and includes bulgogi, soy chicken and beef rib eye. There is also a premium option, and BBQ sides include lettuce and spring onion salad. Gogi also serves hot pot, grilled seafood and bibimbap.