cheap and good korean in soho. it’s a little amazing how little publicity assa gets; it’s like as though we all blog about the fantastic note-worthy restaurants we visit and forget the ones we really go to when we want a good cheap meal. I’ve said it twice now, it has to be true.
you can eat comfortably and satisfactorily at sub-ten levels even at dinnertime, and for just a bit more, you really can eat until you feel so stretched you could roll out of the restaurant cushioned on fluffy sticky rice and those addictive bouncy rice cakes. at lunchtimes, prices are even cheaper for the same quality of food.
the meal always starts off with roasted barley tea and some banchan, basically some complimentary small plates of food: we got pickle-sweet seaweed today and bean sprouts tossed in sesame oil. pleasant if uninspiring. the beef hot-pot was cooked table-side, and out from it wafted these utterly appetizing smells that open the appetite, as we say. followed with the seafood pancake, which wasn’t that much of a favourite; it’s hard to disagree with fried batter, though this was very greasy. liked the dip though.
that was followed by dobukki, chewy rice cakes with ramen and fishcakes in a spicy too-salty sauce. that sauce is important though, because it lifted the dish from stodginess to comforting richness. squid for mains today, in a teriyaki sauce as well as a spicy variant, both of which went very well with the rice.
you can tell the standard of an asian joint by the quality of the rice they serve, and assa fares well. I know I’ll be back – assa is my benchmark for korean food. does this place have food as nice for as cheap? that should be your mantra too, you’ll see what I mean after your first visit.