Despite being very tasty, and in my humble opinion not too ‘exotic’, I’m very surprised people (food bloggers excluded) don’t seem to eat a lot of Korean food in London. There are far fewer Korean restaurants than, say Thai or Vietnamese. I really loved Koba when I went there for their lunch special, but I every time I mention it to non foodies, I’m met with blank stares and sometimes fear over Korean cuisine, and that’s a shame.
I have a couple Korean restaurants on my list to try, but Dotori was a spur of the moment decision – one of those ‘I feel like Korean, where’s nearby?’ times. After the boy and I bowled a game at Ten Pin in Finsbury Park on a random rainy Sunday, I decided Korean was the way to go for dinner. Lo and behold, the closest Korean restaurant (well, half Korean, half Japanese) was across the street. Fate.
I had high hopes when I did a quick search for reviews and found that Douglas from Intoxicating Prose really liked it, but a week after my meal, and I’m still not sure how I feel.
The meal started out with an absolutely gorgeous Seafood and Spring Onion pancake.
This is what it’s all about, folks. Crispy/fluffy dough with perfectly fried squid. The portion was more than generous. Coupled with a side of super funky (read: perfect) kimchi, the meal looked full of promise.
Our bibimbap arrived shortly after, and our server offered to mix the ingredients as soon as the sizzling bowl was set down. I hesitated, as I generally like bibimbap to sit a little bit for the rice to properly crisp in the hot stone bowl (and also to get a pre-mix picture!), but I didn’t want to be that person, so I kept quiet.
It would have been a mistake anyway, but regardless of a ‘mixing strategy’ the bibimbap didn’t live up to expectations. First off, there was no egg. Second, the gochuchang was bland and a bit runny – not at all paste-like. And finally, the rice – as well as not being particularly crispy – was off. Odd thing to say because I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong, but, with the runny gochuchang, it was almost like risotto. The whole thing was a bit of a mess.
Much better was the Barbecue Pork:
This dish served with a lovely ginger paste and lettuce wraps was bursting with flavour. The pork was succulent and very lean, not too oily or greasy. Just right.
When I think about 3 out of the 4 things we had were excellent, but that one strike against the bibimbap, a staple of any Korean menu is something that’s left me feeling a bit cool towards Dotori.