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Nara Korean Restaurant Review – Oxford Circus, Soho

BY Boon Koh
Published 31 October 2009

I last went to Nara two years ago for a friend’s Birthday celebration, and although the meal was decent somehow it quickly slipped out of my mind and I never visited. Which isn’t really a shame, because in London there are so many good restaurants that an average one sometimes is just not good enough to deserve a second visit.

This time, I decided to visit Nara again as I was in the area to collect a book from WH Smith on Oxford Street. Nara is a small Korean restaurant just off Oxford Street in Soho, and while there was again nothing special, this time I found the portions very filling, the food tasty, and best of all the prices seem to be rather reasonable.

Korean restaurants can be rather hit and miss in terms of pricing; the general rule is that for lunch, they are amazing value as they offer really cheap set lunches, but for dinner you can easily rack up a huge bill if you go for the traditional Korean BBQ. The Korean BBQ is special because the hot plate is in the center of the table, and a waitress or waiter will do the cooking right in front of you, sort of a Korean-style teppanyaki, but closer. I myself like it once in a while, but it usually is rather expensive and not much food for the money spent, plus your clothes end up smelling like BBQed beef bulgolgi afterwards!

Anyways, tonight I had a bibimbap, which is an all-in-one dish in a hot stone pot. Rice, vegetables, beef, and an egg are layered in a hot stone bowl just from the oven, which finishes the cooking of the food. Once its served, you pour in the spicy Korean chili sauce, mix the whole combo together, and dig in. We also received 3 free cold starter dishes, which is customarily in Korean food (although in Korea, the authentic restaurants would serve up t0 10 starter dishes, several of kimchi).

Nara Korean Restaurant Nara Korean Restaurant - bibimbap

We also ordered a pa jeon, which is the traditional Korean pancake with scallions, spring onions, flour, and egg. Unlike a Western pancake, it is salty, and crispy on the outside and very very tasty!

Nara Korean Restaurant - Pa Jeon Korean pancake

Service here was prompt, and the restaurant itself is rather peaceful and quiet, so it is a good place to have a small gathering for dinner or an intimate date. The bill for the two of us came up to £27 for the two of us, which wasn’t bad as we were both stuffed after the meal. I wouldn’t consider this place a cheap eat, but it isn’t expensive either and offers good value for money.

Nara is a restaurant which is good and serves the purpose of filling one up with hot and delicious food, but its not a place worth making the effort to get to. I will be filing it into my mental list of tried and tested places, one to go to if I’m in the Soho or Oxford Circus area doing some shopping.

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars
Cuisine: Korean, but with Japanese dishes too
Price Range: £27 for two, without drinks.

Address: 9 D’Arblay Street, Soho, London W1F 8DR (location map)
Nearest Tube Stations: Oxford Circus Tube Station (10 minutes walk), Tottenham Court Road Tube Station (13 minutes walk), Leicester Square Tube Station (18 minutes walk)
Tel: 020 7287 1110 / 020 7287 2224
Website: none. Booking and reservations accepted by phone only.