Thursday, 9 October 2008

Restaurant Tour #1: Corean Chilli Korean Restaurant

On Wednesday 24th September 2008 a friend of mine (who is Korean) introduced me to a Korean restaurant in the West End of London. I was a bit sceptical having had inferior meals in the area before but I duly met him at 6 pm not expecting too much. The licensed restaurant is called “Corean Chilli” at 51 Charing Cross road, London, WC2H 0NE-telephone number 020 7734 6737 and fax. 020 7734 4929- and is located a mere fifty metres to the left of the “China Town “exit of Leicester Square tube station. Booking a table is advisable on Fridays and Saturdays but not necessary during the remainder of the week. A Take Away service is also available. There is wheelchair access. The façade of the building is made of glass so that the interior together with patrons can be seen by passersby. The “Corean Chilli” occupies two floors and a basement area. This basement area contains intimate Karoke rooms and the lavatory with easy access via two flights of stairs to ground floor level. All the rooms at basement level are in good order. The ground and first floors house the dining area of the restaurant itself. The lighting is quite soft with deep red lampshades and bulbs located in the ceilings. The décor is pleasant with an adequately stocked bar. From the pavement outside the restaurant presents a “Mexican” feel due to the “C” in Chilli being replaced by a red chilli itself. This is dispelled upon entering. Having said this, the name is clearly visible and quite eye catching. Menus are displayed on the glass frontage. Upon initial observation the square wooden topped tables (which can be placed alongside each other as and when required) and the bare matching wooden stools seem a bit austere. The ambience is between a fast food establishment and a traditional restaurant. Whilst there, I noticed that eight or nine tables were occupied. I was under the impression that the clientele would be transient but I had to alter this idea after speaking to two groups of diners at different tables. The first patrons I spoke to were a man and a woman who said that over the past two years they had eaten at this restaurant at least a dozen times prior to going to the theatre. Both of them enjoyed the quality and quantity of the food served together with the affordable price in such a central area of London. The second group of people were two men and a woman who echoed the comments above. Adding that they thought the lunch time menu offered particularly good value.Now it was our turn to sample the cuisine of this establishment. Let me begin by stating that the menu was quite descriptive of the dishes available and well presented. However, I felt that what “Kimchi” actually was should have been explained eg pickled cabbage.Before I give my opinion of the meal I feel that I must point out that I have lived in South Korea for some sixteen years, off and on, and am au fait with the variety of Korean food available.A number of dishes were ordered by us and shown below:

* Pork cutlet, salad and rice------------A trifle salty for my taste but there again normally I have little or no salt in my food.
* Bean sprouts---------------------- ----Soft in texture
* Seaweed-------------------------------Texture and taste quite pleasant
* Kimchi---------------------------------Better than many restaurants-quite hot and not sharp. * Rice cake with vegetables--------------Spicy and most enjoyable
* Eels, rice and salad--------------------I’m not a fan of eels but I still tried a little. Not really to my taste
* Korean pancake-----------------------Flavour, texture and contents quite reasonable
* Sweet and sour chicken----------------Good flavour

The staff appeared quite diligent when dealing with the diners albeit being before eight o’clock in the evening. Upon leaving I was aware that people were waiting to be seated as the restaurant began to fill up. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food, the quantity served, the presentation and the cost of individual dishes. My overall impression is that COREAN CHILLI is a “ No Frills “ restaurant catering mainly for a transient clientele with regular patrons eating there. It is located close to a Leicester Square tube station exit and therefore offers the opportunity to theatre goers and others to sample Korean food, maybe for the first time.

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