Little Korea Restaurant in Chinatown – Review
Published 3 December 2009
I got worried last night because for the first time in London, I went to a restaurant that I have been to before, but completely forgotten that I had been there before until I stepped into the place. I don’t know which I should be worried about; either than I am going senile, or that I have been to so many restaurants in London that I just can’t remember which ones I have been to!
This mystery was soon explained right after the meal, with the explanation being that it was such a distinctly average (below average even) dining experience that it is no wonder that I had completely forgotten about it. I am referring to the Little Korea Restaurant in a street next to the main Gerrard Street in Chinatown. Sometimes called Liko, it is just off Wardour Street and across the road from what will be the newly rebuilt Swiss Center next year.
First impressions when walking in was that the restaurant is rather spacious, with tables spread out a good distance apart, which in Chinatown is something of a rarity. Most of the other eateries tend to cram the tables as close together as possible to squeeze as many diners in as possible, but Little Korea is an exception.
However, we did get a shock when we started looking through the menu, and found that even the cheapest bimbimbab was around £9-10! I have been to several Korean restaurants in London, and even the swankier Arang Restaurant near Piccadilly Circus didn’t charge this much. Shocked by the bimbimbab prices, we had a look at the rest of the menu, which seemed highly inflated as well. Its not to say that I find £9-10 shocking for a main course; I find it shocking that a small restaurant, in the highly competitive locality of Chinatown, will be able to command such a price.
I ended up ordering one of their hot stews (I can’t remember the Korean name), which was a spicy broth with tofu, seafood, and kimchi cabbage, served with rice. My partner ordered a similar stew, but hers was pork ribs in a non-spicy soup. Feeling a bit adventurous, I chose to order a squid with flying fish roe as a starter.
The range of dishes served at Liko is half Korean, and half Japanese, although not in a fusion style so each dish is either all Korean or all Japanese. I was pleasantly surprised when my squid with flying fish roe starter arrived, as it was very Japanese like, with the squid sliced into sashimi-style and the flying fish roe colourfully sprinkled on top. It was pretty good, with the squid quite fresh.
Our main courses then arrived. My spicy bowl of seafood and tofu stew was good, and in the traditional Korean style they had cracked a whole raw egg into the stew. I had let it sit in the stew to let it cook, but even after about 10 minutes it was still almost completely raw, and I was quite nervous about eating it. Still, I haven’t developed any stomach bugs yet 24 hours later, so I guess it was fine!
My partner’s pork ribs soup was rather plain though without much taste, and the ribs, although big, were very tough.
Although at the end of the meal we were full, it didn’t feel like we were satisfied. While there was nothing wrong with the food, there was nothing special about it either, and for the price we paid (£7-8 for each stew and rice) we knew we could have had a much more satisfying meal in many other Korean restaurants in London or any Chinese/Asian restaurants in Chinatown. The one consolation from our meal was that their traditional Korean barley tea was perfect for a cold and rainy day!
Rating: 2 out of 10 stars
Cuisine: Small Korean & Japanese eatery/restaurant
Price Range: £13 for two, ordering main course each, a starter to share, and barley tea
Address: 2-3 Lisle Street, Chinatown Soho, London WC2H 7BG (location map)
Nearest Tube Stations: Leicester Square Tube Station (5 minutes walk), Piccadilly Circus Tube Station (5 minutes walk)
Tel for Booking: +44 020 7434 1601
Website: No website available. But bookings taken through the phone number above.