Korean BBQ @ Tohbang, Clerkenwell

Gee…, I don’t think I can eat or drink in public until this sudden bout of cough is resolved. I’ve just had one and it was UGLY.
Listen everyone, if you don’t want to repeat my experience yourself, wash your hands and gargle often & diligently…

Since I won’t be dining out anytime soon, I shall recount about the dinner Hubbie & I had at Tohbang on Clerkenwell Road a few weeks ago. That Friday, Hubbie didn’t drive to work because he was to give a lecture in the early evening. It was raining and I offered him a chauffeur service, provided we could eat out on our way home. Hmm.. What do we fancy? Japanese? No, not tonight. Italian? Meh. Chinese? Don’t fancy it. How about Korean? Oh yeah, it’s been a while since we had one last time! So we settled on Korean BBQ.

The restaurant, Tohbang, was a small but lively eatery on Clerkenwell Road…


Because of super chill-sensitive Hubbie, we picked our order very carefully from the menu…


For starters, a plate of Modum Namul – three different vegetables seasoned Korean style…


And Hubbie’s must have, Pa Joen – spring onion pancake with mixed seafood and vegetables…


Followed by Goon Mandoo – pan-fried pork & vegetable dumplings…


Comparing with the counterpart at Sedap, this dumpling was closer to the Japanese version. The skin was thinner and the filling was a mixture of pork mince and finely chopped chives. It was tasty all the same though.

Then, les plats de résistance, Korean barbecues!
Bulgogi – beef marinated with soy sauce, pear juice & sesame oil…


Samgyupsal – sliced pork belly…


Galbi – beef rib marinated with soy sauce, pear juice & sesame oil…


When those three sizzling dishes were brought to our table, the first thought flashed in my mind was not “Yipee!” but “Can we manage them all?!” I honestly thought we might end up having to ask for a doggie bag.

We also ordered Sangchu – a basket of lettuce to wrap barbecue with soybean paste…


Mmm… It tasted so good.
We also favoured the way they served their barbecues – cooking it in their kitchen instead of grilling it in front of us. It produced much less fume in the dining area, therefore, our hair and clothing were free from the smoky odour.
Another thing I liked about my BBQ not being cooked on the spot was it allowed me to dine in a more leisurely manner. At some other Korean restaurants, a staff, armed with a pair of tongs, mans a piping hot grill on each table and turns the meat systematically. As each piece becomes ready to eat, the staff hands it out to waiting guests in turn, but I find the way they do it tends to be too efficient and hasty. I just can’t help but feel obliged about keeping up with the pace the meat is served. And I don’t find it relaxing, unfortunately.

With the barbecue, we also shared a bowl of Dolsot Bibimbab – beef, egg & vegetables on rice in a hot stone bowl…


We really thought we could never finish all the dishes, but we did it!
However, I could feel my stomach was truly stretched to its maximum capacity, and the sketch from Monty Python movie – “Mr.Cresote Blows Up” did cross my mind. Oops…

As we walked out of the restaurant, bidding goodnight to the staff, we encountered an extraordinarily spectacle…


A police officer was arresting a man right by our car!
To be more precise, a guy with a beanie was pressed against the rear of our car while an officer was trying to handcuff him. As the guy swore and struggled, he dropped two small sachets and kicked them into the underside of the car. So Hubbie walked up to them and told the officer what we just saw. The guy swore at Hubbie in retaliation but Hubbie stood his ground, staring back at him really hard. Even though he wouldn’t even kill a fly, being 6’4″, he could tower over most guys and be rather intimidating. Once the guy was handcuffed and subdued, another officer pulled on a pair of purple rubber gloves and got ready to crawl under the car to retrieve the sachets.
“Do you want us to move the car?”, I asked the officer. “Oh yes, that will be great!” He was very happy for not having to crawl on the wet tarmac. Didn’t they realise the car was ours? Until we identified ourselves, they probably thought we were overly nosy bystanders! Hubbie climbed behind the wheel and reversed the car and the officer collected the evidence safely. Shortly afterward, a police van arrived and the man was bundled in and driven away. So that was that. I had never seen anyone arrested right in front of me. And it was rather exciting!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

7 thoughts on “Korean BBQ @ Tohbang, Clerkenwell

  1. Looks like you had all my favorites at your Korean dinner: bibimpap, kalbi, pork belly, mandoo and the bean sprouts appetizer….looks so good! And how brave was Hubbie to tell the policeman about the guy kicking the sachets under your car? Lots of people would have been too scared with the criminal standing right there. What an exciting night!

    • Yes, the food was very good and the atmosphere was very at home & comfortable. The price was reasonable too. Therefore, they have become our most favourite Korean restaurant in London.
      About the drug dealer, it was rather amusing. Hubbie didn’t like to see the man was pinned down against our car though. Later, he was checking on a body work. No scratch, thank god!

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