394 Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, London, SW18 4HP
T – 0208 946 8811
As you fellas will know, my friends and I have, for the last year or so, embarked on an ambitious – and filling – plan to eat cuisine from everywhere in the world… without leaving London. There have been highs (our trips to “Switzerland” and “Ethiopia” where the food was jaw-droppingly tasty) and lows (the state of the toilets in very nearly every place we’ve eaten)… but it’s been an ace way to discover hidden nooks of London and experience food that, often, we’d never even heard of, let alone eaten.
This time around, we went to Korea. This, of course, sparked a frenzy of debate. Could we check off both South and North Korea from our to-do list? Was there anywhere in London that would serve North Korean food if not? Why did I not know more about the history of the 38th parallel? But anyway, I digress. We found ourselves heading to Earlsfield where I would have my first ever Korean barbecue. Was I excited? Oh yes sir, I was.
Walking into Cah Chi I was hit, indeed very nearly assaulted, with the pungent, spicy smell of searing meat which set my mouth watering within seconds. I had to quickly order a few Korean beers to recover. The dining room helped. Cosy and warm, with a simple charm, and every now and then I’d catch a snippet of weird Korean pop music and smile. This place was lovely.
The service was also kind and attentive. All of the waitresses were gentle and friendly and thoroughly welcoming. Furthermore, the toilets, for those for whom this is important -sparkled! And, and, we had magical flannels at the start of the meal, which grew from tiny pebbles into hot fluffy towels after being doused with hot water – the kind of gimmikary that makes me very happy.
We were all very hungry and ordered accordingly – vegetable soup, salad in a lipsmackingly aromatic dressing, Jab Chae (beef and vermicelli), O-Jing-o Bok-um (calamari in a scarlet red spicy sauce), and juicy pork and vegetable dumplings. And that was literally, just for starters. For our mains we ordered two types of barbecue – the Bul-go-gi : marinated beef and the Doi-ji Bul-go-gi : tender strips of pork in chilli sauce. A waitress came over and seared the meat on the Barbecue on our table, turning the meat over elegantly with chopsticks whilst we were watching, all itching to get involved. She then made us each a serving – by placing on a lettuce leaf, a lump of sticky rice, then a dab of soybean paste, ginger and seasoned spring onions and the barbecued meal, before wrapping into a morsel which I successfully ate in one whole bite.
The meat was really very good, especially the pork which was smoky and sweet, charred in some places, sticky in others. Combined with the crisp cool lettuce leaves and crunch of the spring onions, the parcels were outrageously tasty and I think I could have very happily devoured a pig’s worth of barbecue. Sorry babe.
With just enough room left in our dessert tummies, we dared to squeeze in a few cakes and ordered a chocolate torte, a sweet potato cake and a sublime green tea tiramisu which were polished off in seconds. Including the beers and the service, the meal came to £30 each. A snip for thoroughly decent food served with a smile and there is just no way that this will be my first and last Korean Barbecue.