Thursday, 24 January 2013

Tohbang, Clerkenwell

Most of the restaurant buzz in London focuses on new places – publicised launches, reviews in all the papers and queues outside.  It’s exciting to keep up to date and find new places to love, or even hate, but sometimes my favourite spots are little hidden gems.  They are unassuming and sometimes easy to miss, but reliable for tasty, and usually cheap, food.

It’s fabulous when there is a work lunch with someone else picking up the bill, but sometimes I need something more than a salad at my desk for a break from lovely spread-sheets.  Holborn is not the most exciting food area (there is definite lunch envy for those in Soho/Charlotte Street nearby) but a few months ago we discovered Tohbang, a fantastic Korean restaurant a few minutes away on Clerkenwell Road.  The slight obsession with their food peaked when we went 2 days out of the 3 day week back at the start of January…

It’s an unfussy room with friendly staff (who doesn’t like a hair complement at lunchtime??), with what I have taken to be authentic Korean food (never been, but I’ll maintain this unless corrected).  There is the normal menu and a brilliant value set lunch menu.  For £6.90 you get a noodle, rice or soup and rice dish, with pickles on the side (a little bowl of miso-type soup too depending on the order).  The little side orders vary but usually include some pickled radish, kimchee or little cubes of vegetables.

Dolsot Bibimbap
I have tried to branch out but always go back to the Dolsot Bibimbap – the classic dish of rice, vegetables and beef with an egg on top, in a sizzling stone bowl which makes the bottom layer of rice golden and crunchy.  Just mix it all together with your chopsticks with lots of the chilli sauce. 

Fried Aubergine

Doenjang Jigae (tofu and vegetable soup)
The other great main courses include the meltingly soft fried aubergine, fresh, wholesome tofu and vegetable soup and the Beef Bulgogi.

Seafood & Spring Onion Pancake

Pork & Vegetable Dumplings
The starters are also really good to share first (£5.90 on the lunch menu) – the best are the little pork dumplings and either the seafood or kimchee pancake.  The items on the normal menu include larger versions of the set menu, but are also good value, and include other tasty dishes like crisp, juicy prawn tempura.

This place is often rightfully packed at lunchtime – somewhere would have to be pretty special to take over Tohbang as my office’s favourite cheap lunch spot.

Tohbang on Urbanspoon

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