Tel: +44 (0)20 7287 9768
Address: 1 Kingly Street, W1R 5LF
Cuisine Type: Korean
Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus
Certain restaurants exude a homely feel; whether it is the welcoming service, décor that does not immediately suggest interior design input, or the slightly ragged-round-the-edges output of the kitchen. Myung Ga has all of this and more. Throw in a few primary school aged children running around the tables, strains of Korean pop music that conjure up images of the rebellious teenager with stereo on full blast upstairs, and the slightly hassled look of the waitress (substitute “mother” here), and you have the makings of the chaotic environment you might see in a typical family home.
We had to wait just inside the doorway for a while to be seated, and weren’t sure whether to be bemused or annoyed by the disorganised setting we found ourselves in. But once we were seated at one of the massive tables round the back, with the interesting and varied menu in front of us, we were both mollified and intrigued. Myung Ga is the only Korean restaurant I have been to, so I can’t really comment on the authenticity of dishes, but the menu contained a whole host of items that we wanted to sample.
We started with kimchi, a cold starter of spicy, pickled cabbage. A disconcerting shade of red, this speciality is definitely an acquired taste. Curious, I did some research into kimchi. A Korean speciality, it is made by soaking cabbage (though there are other varieties, including radish) in salt water, flavouring it with red pepper powder, garlic, ginger and onion (and fermented fish if desired), then packing it in jars to ferment. Numerous kimchi recipes are available, both for preparing the dish itself, or using it as an ingredient. My favourite was for kimchi pizza, though I’m not sure it will catch on over here…
Next, we ate prawns cooked on the hot plate built into the tables. Fun to watch them being cooked in front of you, tepanyaki-style, but the prawns (all 6 of them) were undersized and overcooked while the peppers, mushrooms and onions they came with were verging on raw.
Main courses fared better. Beef bibimbap was a mixture of rice, raw minced beef, vegetables and egg, mushed together in an almost unsightly, but very tasty, mass. Another “Korean speciality” was also delicious – a mix of vermicelli, chinese leaf, other assorted vegetables and a type of black fungus known colloquially as “cloud ear”, but it didn’t strike me as being so very different from food at Chinese restaurants.
There is a well stocked bar, serving a range of beers and spirits, and though the wine list is not particularly exciting, there are a few reasonably priced options. All together, our meal came to about £50 for two, including drinks and service. Not too pricey for central London, but portions are small and the cost can rack up alarmingly if you’re feeling hungry or get carried away with trying too many interestingly-named dishes.