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…

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

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

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

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

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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…

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Samgyupsal – sliced pork belly…

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

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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

Pale (but tasty!) Nosh @ Sedap, Old Street

The weather has turned, hasn’t it?
Sadly, I miss a whole spell of the recent warm weather due to having to recover from a minor operation which I underwent last Friday. Still, I am an optimistic kind, hoping for another Indian Summer’s return.

After my aforementioned visit to Best of Britannia, I met up with Hubbie for a quick supper before heading home together. He suggested Carluccio’s Smithfield and we drove around the square to find a parking space. Yet none was available and we gave up after circling the square twice. Being crestfallen and unsure what we could have for supper, we headed home.  Then, we saw a familiar green façade of Sedap, glowing in the night on Old Street.
“Let’s eat at Sedap!” Yay!!

Sedap is a restaurant specialised in Singaporean / Malaysian cuisine and established itself at the current location since 2009. The restaurant is situated very close to our home (less than 10 minutes away on foot), therefore, their home-delivery is lightning quick which we find it very handy.

For starters, we shared vegetable spring rolls…

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The spring rolls were crisp on the outside yet its stuffing was moist and flavoursome.
By the way, about this orangey sweet chill sauce in the photo, is this a standard sauce for this particular dish in Singapore & Malaysia too? Apart from UK, USA and Spain, I have never encountered the sauce, not even in Japan.
I am kind of curious if the sauce is a westernised version of something else.

The spring rolls were followed by our No.1 favourite starter, pork dumplings…

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Behold these plump beauties!

Their pork dumpling is different from Japanese Gyoza. The texture of the skin is much more robust than its Japanese counterpart. Also, the filling is different. While the Japanese version contains finely chopped green leafy vegetable, such as cabbage or Chinese chive in a mixture of seasoned pork mince, the Sedap’s dumpling is more or less pork mince only.
The  dumplings were accompanied by soy sauce based dipping sauce. A hint of vinegar was detected in the pale brown sauce with tiny ginger sticks. The dumplings were so tasty and we ended up succumbing to a second helping!

For the main course, I ordered a bowl of Singapore Laksa. And for forever spice-shy Hubbie, a plate of vegetarian fried rice with egg was recommended.
I love my Hubbie to bits, however his definite shortcoming is his inability to ingest any spicy food. When I am with him, we can never eat Thai, Indian, Mexican, Korean, etc, unless we order the dishes which are free from chilli and wasabi. As soon as he feels even a slightest tingly sensation on the tongue, he complains bitterly, “It’s too spicy!” He reacts the same to even Japanese curry which is definitely on the moderate side. In order to mitigate the spiciness for him, I have to garnish the curry with omelette or fried egg with runny yoke. *SIGH*

Here comes my Singapore Laksa…

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Just looking at rich coconut based curry soup, my heart was filled with glowing warmth. And of course, tasting the first mouthful was a heaven on earth! It was just so tasty!
Being intrigued by my ecstatic countenance, Hubbie asked if he could have a mouthful as well. I did give him a plenty of warning about how spicy the soup was but he didn’t listen. He gulped it heedlessly and then a cough or two followed immediately. Red-faced & wide-open eyed, he groaned, “My god, that was fiery!” Well, what did I tell you? Were you not paying attention?
A tiny, tiny, objection I have towards their Singapore Laksa would be about the thick vermicelli they used for this dish. I found the vermicelli was too slithery for that lovely creamy soup to cling to. I will definitely request them to make mine with yellow wheat noodle next time.

The dinner in all looked short of colour but certainly was not lack of flavour. In fact, my mouth is watering again by just looking the photos…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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