Sunday, 10 March 2013

Dinner at Bibigo in London

As a Korean born food writer, a food blogger and running Korean home food cookery occasionally, I always looking for some new  Korean restaurants in London.
I had eaten a few new Korean restaurant recent years, I always left the restaurant with a slightly disappointment by nothing much different than the other. 
Korean food is quietly popular to the young 30 something generations in recent years and now its popularity is established, needs something different Korean restaurant here in UK.
Like Nobu made Japanese  and Hakkasan group made Chinese( Cantonese ) , Korean needs that 
Korean restaurants desperately needs a person or backers with vision and patience, I regard the restaurant is not only for eat also social gathering with experience through dinning. Mind you first of all food has to be a star

I have had heard of Bibigo a few weeks ago, and it is in heart of West End. I had to try, they took over from old eatery,  Ssam and changed name, Bibigo,  means mixing, like Bibimbab means mixed vegetables rice, meat and sauce. Well it is quite catchy and easy to pronounce for the name.
I decided have a go, took my daughter, Catherine who is a new foodie in our family and write for the magazine.  Bibigo is situated in  a few minutes from Liberty, Great Marlborough Street. We arrived at 7:00 PM since it was Wednesday, fairly quiet,  3 tables were occupied.
 It looked much different than Ssam, deco was changed to better, friendlier and casual but smart , At the back of the room I could see kitchen through glass, as soon as I stepped in , I noticed well stocked bar with bright yellowy light, it is unusual for the Korean restaurant.
 I liked it which means you can have drinks at the bar while you are waiting  or just wanted drinks and light snack on your own.

We ordered  Korean dumplings ( Mandu) and fried baby squid. Mandu came with crispy plain thin pancake on the top with micro salad , I thought it was baked Parmesan cheese on the top of dumplings.  Looked very interesting and gives crunchy texture with steamed dumpling, what a good idea, I might borrow this idea  at home. Fried squid were crispy but cut too small .
Pajeon was excellent, thin batter, thinly cut spring onion and seafood. It was best I've had in London.
Bossam was the must have dish for me. Meaty ,tender belly pork was so delicious, also beautifully presented as well. All Bibigo meats are from Ginger Pig farm,which means quality meat!!
If I only I could be able to have with oyster, it would have been authentic Bossam but even without them it was a well balanced delicious dish.
 Beef & Asparagus Sanjuk
Sanjuk ( skewered beef and asparagus) was like a mini beef steak, when chef  Kim told me they are actually sir loin steak meat, marinated in bulgogi sauce and grilled, a tasty dish for the main course.
But next time I would like to have as medium rare after all it is like a mini beef steak.
Bulgogi was perfect indeed, just melt in your mouth, balances of saltiness and sweetness were just right.  
Bibigo offer lunch set menu for £9, Dinner set menu is £12, how good is that! I certainly try when I am in shopping or  out in theatre or opera.
 I am glad that Bibigo offering something different than most of Korean restaurant and also tasty, stylish food. They even serve very English dessert like Eton Mess. Catherine had Korean green tea ice cream, she loved it.

The Russian bar tender makes excellent and very generous size of Bloody Mary according to Catherine but if  you like milder one, ask him easy on Tabasco, it was quiet hot for me.

I hope this kind of Korean restaurant will pop up in London time to time. Needs variety style of Korean eatery in London like in NY.    

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Visiting Blue House ( Residence of the President of S. Korea)

I was very lucky to have had  a chance to tour BLUE HOUSE, last October when I was in Seoul. It was a beautiful Autumn day, with clear blue sky.  A rare chance to be allowed to in the Blue House as a family of the senior civil servant. All complicated checks of security we were on the ground of this mini palace.
Blue House is called because of blue roof tiles, personally  I do not like any coloured tile on the Korean traditional house but this huge House did not seem too odd and a good name for the Nation's President Residence. I bet one senior civil servant thought about this name after White House, as Blue House, Well, I am wildly guessing.
Blue House is sit on the foot hill of mountain, it is not a big park and not as big as Kyungbok Palace , old  and a few modern buildings and traditional houses are dotted around.  It was very well managed park, well designed garden and pond, old pine trees were magnificent.
 We could see the President's private living quarter by distance , I have heard that ex President, Lee likes to ride bicycle on this road to the office every morning. 
When we were inside, we could see real a cabinet minister's meeting room, it just looked like a mini UN conference room, every desk with  computer and microphone were set , nothing like I used to have seen Downing Street, our own Prime Minister's cabinet meeting room on TV, it was very spacious .
Sadly we were not allowed take any photos.  I can imagine how European Government would be envious of this power room.
All rooms were so elegantly decorated , Foreign Dignitaries Greeting and Banquet room ( Youngbinkwan) was very impressive, deep yellow colour room looks very grand for the occasion.
My favourite house was Outdoor Dinning House for the foreign guests, it is on the hill of  park.
 The Traditional house with garden and a few big persimmon trees , it just like the my father's village house, very charming and welcoming house.  
I cam imagine many historic lunches may have had served there. I just loved the simplicity of it.
Compare with the official Grand Greeting Room (Youngbinkwan), this house had more cosy and intimate , friendly feel to it.
Planting Persimmon trees is a clever idea,because persimmons are  symbol of ordinary people's a comfort fruit in Korea.
They were strikingly beautiful against blue Autumn sky.   

Outdoor Dining House

with family

The very Best Burial spot in the Country.
I was told one spot on the hill, next to Outdoor Dinning House is The Very Best Burial Spot by the Chinese Pengsui theory. A huge urn like ceramic jar is there on that spot.
Certainly looks a Perfect place to be, looking down at the city of Seoul. protected by Mountain in the back, Sun drenched spot, it looks the part. However nobody, buried yet so far.
I was glad to be able to see this grand House and very proud of my Old Country , Korea! 
Now, new Lady President, Park is in this Residence, I wonder how the house character will be changed in the future.
I am sure New President  have no problem to settling in her old childhood house.