The only thing putting me off Bibigo was its association with Psy (of Gangnam Style fame), who pops up like Where’s Wally all over its website. My friend had trusted me with last night’s restaurant booking and, for all I knew, we were about to dine in Psy’s gaudy dining room.
As it turned out, we were met with elegant decor, helpful, well mannered staff and an intriguing South Korean menu put together by Kim Yong Hwan, who previously worked at Roka and Zuma, and Bibigo founder Hee Young Noh, who also happens to be the star of Masterchef Korea.
£12 got us a starter and main from the full menu. We decided to share, washing everything down with a refreshing glass of lychee juice (£2.50 each).
Red Chicken was sticky and hot, infused with its sweet and spicy sauce and sprinkled with crispy, deep fried okra. The other starter – a traditional, crisp seafood pancake with leeks, squid, mussels and shrimp – was best enjoyed first due to its slightly more subtle, yet equally delicious, flavour that would have been drowned by the chicken.
Mains were Traditional Bulgogi (chargrilled beef marinated in BBQ sauce with grilled shiitake mushroom, courgette and bean sprouts) and Bossam: Pork Belly (slow cooked pork belly with cucumber Kimchi, spicy mooli Kimchi and a soybean dip). The waiter suggested sides, but all that meat seemed enough for two little ladies.
Bulgogi was delightful – the meat had a lovely sweet, slightly smoky flavour that permeated the juicy mushrooms and noodle-like bean sprouts. Bossam was equally good, with succulent pork belly pairing extremely well with the soybean dip and fermented cucumber. I wasn’t so keen on the mooli, but that’s probably down to personal taste.
A Fig Creme Brûlée (£5.00) was the perfect dessert. Large enough for two, its snaptastic topping broke into a bath of rich and creamy vanilla custard that surrounded a juicy dried fig with a ball of delicious raspberry sorbet sitting pretty on top.
I now know “Gangnam Style” refers to a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District of Seoul, where people are ‘trendy, hip and exude a certain class’. This helps me understand Bibigo’s association with Psy – even though his song is awful (sorry), what he refers to can certainly be found in this restaurant, which gets a LLE Rating of 8 / 10.
Bibigo, 58-59 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7JY