Address: 305 Old Street,
London EC1V 9LA
Closest Transport: Old Street
Telephone: 020 7683 0361
Online Menu: Yes
Vegetarian Options: Not clearly stated in menu, ask in restaurant
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 11:30 – 15:00, 17:00 – 22:30. Closed Sun
At Korean Class MASSIVE we try to keep up to date with all the latest Korean trends in the UK, food in particular. So when the London Evening Standard published their list of London’s best new Korean restaurants with the top spot filled by a new restaurant we’ve never heard of, we gave our new year diets a break and rushed over to try the next hip Korean eatery. For research purposes of course. In the trendy Shoreditch area around the corner from Jubo, On The Bab was very easy to find and looked very welcoming with their funky exposed lightbulbs and cosy rustic diner feel. But the restaurant was very small and when we arrived on a Saturday evening at 6:30pm, all of the two-seater tables towards the front of the restaurant were already taken and we had to sit along the bar against the wall. Even though all of the four-seaters at the back were free, they were strictly for use by parties of 3+. We weren’t too happy about sitting along the bar by the door on a Winter evening, but this resulted in some excellent photos. But saying this, a lot of other couples looking for a romantic dinner were put off and left straight away.
The menu was on a cool clipboard (KCM loves clipboards) where dishes were listed with both Korean and English names with clear descriptions. We’ve read that On The Bab is the first East London restaurant to focus on Anju, munchies that accompany alcohol in Korean Culture, and there were some impressive drinking sets on the menu along with a special Anju section. We’re on a January detox so we thought we’d focus on the food but we’ll definitely be back with our drinking buddies! You can check out On The Bab’s full menu on their website.
We ordered some small dishes and two mains so we could give everything a try and ensure we get a real feel of On The Bab’s menu (not because we’re greedy). The drink selection at On The Bab was extensive and we went for the non-alcoholic cocktails. The Citrus Sparkler was a generous shot of Yuzu preserve with honey and soda. Yuzu is a delicious and refreshing citrus flavour and this mocktail was absolutely delicious and a decent size. We also tried the OMG because we thought the name (Oh My Ginger) was hilarious and we’re easily pleased. Like the Citrus Sparkler, this had a shot of ginger preserve with honey and soda.
Our food arrived sporadically and first to come was our Spicy Chicken on the rice. We ordered this as we figured it would be the signature dish with the restaurant being called On The Bab (meaning on the rice). The dish looked cool and we got a bit excited about the funky crockery, but once the novelty wore off the reality of having a dish with 50% of it made up of cabbage salad hit us. The spicy chicken was nice and slightly spicy and the salad itself was refreshing and complimented the dish well but we’re not sure if we really needed that much of it. This would be perfect for summer when you don’t want something too heavy but during the colder months, we love our rice and would have preferred a more heartier portion of chicken and rice.
Next to come was the japchae with a side of radish kimchi. Both were served in these cool little metal dishes with the radish kimchi arriving in a clip locked metal tub which is opened for you at the table. We loved these little personal touches. The japchae was very well presented and nicely seasoned and the radish kimchi had a fresh subtle kick to it. We then had to wait quite some time before our bulgogi on the bun arrived but this was worth the wait. The buns were soft and both were generously filled with delicious bulgogi. It was an absolute mess to eat, but a delicious mess and the thoughtful people at On The Bab were ready with adorable personalised wet wipes.
Finally the Yangyum chicken arrived, the dish we were most looking forward to. Again, we love the crockery and presentation. We ordered the small portion and asked for the half and half so we could try both the soy garlic and sweet spicy options. The chicken was deep fried, nice and crunchy and full of flavour. The chicken was also topped with peanuts that added an interesting extra crunch to the chicken. We liked the crunchy crispy chicken, but felt that it was a bit dry as it lacked any juiciness and biting into some pieces, it felt like it was all crisp and not a lot of actual meat. We can see it being the perfect anju, but from the Korean fried chicken point of view, we prefer JuBo’s chicken which had the perfect balance of crispy coating and juicy meatiness inside.
We love the style of On The Bab. From the exposed brick work and the open kitchen to the food being served in super cool enamel dishes and metal lunch trays; On The Bab had their rustic diner concept nailed. All the dishes were also lined in personalised OTB grease proof paper and with the cute little OTB wet serviettes. We love the attention to detail but we felt the food was quite average and you’re paying more for the trendy location and aesthetics. But On The Bab makes Korean food a lot less intimating for first timers with their easy menu and will no doubt be a hit with the Shoreditch crowd with their welcoming and casual dining style. Although the restaurant was a bit on the small size, the atmosphere was very warm and cozy and seems like the perfect place for some drinks and anju. We might not be back for dinner but we’re definitely keen to head back to try out some of the anjus and bargain drinking sets!