Arirang was the first korean restaurant I went to when a friend introduced me to London places where you can eat Korean food. From then on I have gone on to searching for Korean restaurant in London, but Arirang was always my top favourite.
It was my top favourite until one bad experience, where we were seated on the ground floor. We ordered some BBQ dishes that we expected to be cooked on the BBQ stove in front of us. But instead they brought it to our table already cooked. The waiter explained they could not use the BBQ stove on the ground floor and had cooked it in the kitchen. It would had been nice if they could let us know and instead might have waited for a table upstairs instead. After that I have not been back.
However, it has been recently re-opened after having being refurnished. A friend asked me to go and I thought I would it give it another try, as it was not the quality of the food but the quality of the service that disappoint me being a regular customer ar Arirang.
When arrived, there was a big sign stuck on the window to reassure customers that it was under the same management. I suppose this was true as I could see the manager standing around the restaurant. Walking in I could tell the whole place had a modern make over. There was no queue but the restaurant was full of seated people upstairs, therefore we was shown to a table downstairs. I asked the waiter if I could have BBQ downstairs before we were seated and they said yes.
They had transform the ground floor, with each table having an extractor fan over the BBQ stove. It was just like Arang (hopefully to provide you with a review of the place soon) when I walk in give me that sleek modern feeling.
The new decor looks nice but do I think the food is still at the same standard. I have to say it was disappointed at the appetizers we got. One of them was the beansprouts which did not have much taste apart from a weird wooden taste to it. In the past it was full of taste which is of course due to the amount of sesame oil they use, which is how I prefer it to taste.
A friend ordered Yook Hwe as a starter. This is shredded raw beef mix together with shredded pear. I have to admit I did not dare to try and left this dish all to my friend. I was informed it was refreshing and the beef was frozen shredded beef. It does look nice, maybe one day but for now I will stick to a medium cook beef steak.
Instead I stuck to one of my favourite dish at Arirang which is their par jeon. They have still kept the standard of their par jeon with a crispy outside and soft inside.
I can never not have BBQ when eating Korean food. But really that evening was a test that when the waiter said I could have BBQ it was true and the new extractor fan put in was not just there to look good. To my satisfaction the extractor fans and the new BBQ stove do work. Hurray!
We ordered various BBQ dishes like the beef ribs and the belly pork. Each one comes with it own sauce dipping which if you ask the waiter will explain to you which sauce is for which meat. We ate the BBQ on its own but it is much nicer to eat them with some bean paste wrapped in lettuce. But you usually have to order them separately and we forgot about them as I can never see them on Arirang’s menu like you do at Arang or Asadal.
We finished it off sharing a Bibimbap, which is a rice with a cooked egg, beef and vegetable that comes in a hot stone pot. It was yummy, but for some reason my usual one spoon of chilli sauce was too spicy for me.
Then as usual at Arirang when you finished all your meal you will get a plate of fruits which contained some cut oranges and melon. I had one bite of a piece of melon and it was enough not to have anymore. The melon did not taste good which was definitely not the taste of melon, but then it could be due to that this is not the right season for melons.
Overall the service was average as I did find it quite slow that evening, so I did spend a lot of time between course admiring the new fan extractor and all the new look of the interior to the resturant. Although I did not find all the food to be up to standard it has brought back the confident that I would now think of Arirang to be a Korean resturant I could dine at.
Arirang Korean restaurant
31-32 Poland Street