The Asian invasion gets under way as Korean street food restaurant JUBO opens up its second London venue.
It’s something you just have to accept if you eat here – and that is the very real prospect that you may, at the most inconsiderate of times i.e. whilst dining at another restaurant, develop the most unrelenting of cravings for some volcanic Korean fried chicken. But there’s no shame in that for JUBO’s recipe is deserving of such praise – it’s their speciality after all so is a difficult one to resist.
As the name suggests, JUBO’s “volcanic” chicken is pretty darn hot so you may just want to stick with “hot” which provides enough of a kick but without unduly alarming the pain receptors. Those who can’t handle the heat or who just prefer lighter flavours will enjoy the “soy garlic” variety. Whatever the choice, the result is a sinful mash-up of sweet, rich, sticky and crunchy goodness – everything you need to start off the Korean food love affair.
The best introduction to Korean fried chicken (“tangnyeom tongdak”) is via The JUBO Special (£15) which plates up a couple of drumsticks and boneless strips along with a side dish of your choice and some Korean Hite beer to wash it all down with.
But there’s more to JUBO than just fried chicken. If variety is what you’re after, six or so small bar bites (“anju”) in addition to a small order of fried chicken, naturally, or a rice or noodle bowl should equate to a decent and filling enough dinner for two people.
Whilst vegetarian dishes are available, if you can, we’d urge you to stick with the juicy meat options as this place is an ideal hangout for those with carnivorous tendencies. The barbequed meats are wonderful, from gloriously tender, slip-off-the-bone beef galbi short ribs (£10), to skewers of slow-cooked pork belly and spicy bulgogi chicken (£4.50), and bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes and asparagus (£3.50). You should check out their pork belly and grilled bulgogi chicken steamed buns too (£3.50 each). And those who enjoy a good slurp will do well to order the yaka mein (£6.50) – a bowl of wheat noodles with sliced, tender skirt steak in a beef marrow broth.
With so much meat in the works, it helps that you can cleanse the palate between mouthfuls thanks to a small bar on-site at the front of the restaurant. It would be rude to leave without having tried soju, Korea’s vodka equivalent but with almost half the alcohol content. The soju cocktails (£8.50) are brilliantly fruity and refreshing, the bonus being you can walk out and still be surprisingly clear-headed despite a feastful night.
That does mean you’ll be functional enough to come back another day to take on their all-you-can-eat Korean fried chicken for £20 a pop. Just specify how hot or mild you want your meat and a six-piece serving will be brought out to you. Once you’re done, the plate is replaced with another and you can just keep on going until you’re satisfied with your fix. It’s joyous really. And somewhere you could get addicted to all too easily.
JUBO, 50 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE.