Being the little greedy guts I am, a certain someone and I were lucky enough to go to Taste of London not once, but twice this year. After a rather gluttonous evening on opening night, we went back a couple of days later for a lunch time session, though this was not just another ordinary walk in the gastronomical park, we were going to get a Korean feast cooked by Gizzi Erskine! I think Gizzi is a bit of a household name in the UK; she’s got a couple of tv shows, books, rocks up to a lot of foodie events, has a wicked sense of style, and she is a legitimately talented chef. Cue major excitement.
Sinking my teeth into Korean cuisine has been a fairly recent experience for me- one of the first Korean meals I had was with some equally gluttonous colleagues at Korean Country House in Manners Mall, Wellington. That confirmed that I do indeed really, really like kimchi and the Korean food can be eye-watering spicy. Having grown up in a chilli-loving household, this is not a statement I make lightly. Since then I’ve enjoyed a seriously good kimchi pork belly and tofu at Chan in Seattle, an elaborate Korean barbeque in New York’s Koreatown, and a less elaborate but equally tasty one at Cah Chi in London.
So what did we get when we sat down at K-Town, Taste of London edition?
The crispy little nigiri-shaped rice with tuna was a moreish introduction, but when the raw dishes came out, I was really hooked. I’m a sucker for any kind of tartare, ceviche, sashimi; basically a big fan of the barely cooked. The sashimi with ponzu and red pepper was a perfect combination of soy, heat, and acidity, while the yukhoe was exactly what I imagined a Korean steak tartare would taste like.
So after those light bites, things got a lot meatier and messier with the Korean fried chicken. Covered in a tangy and incredibly spicy sauce, they reminded me of all the buffalo wings we ate in America… we know these countries have a shared history so which came first I wonder? The finger-licking goodness continued as we filled lettuce leaves with pulled pork, spring onions and not one but two types of chilli condiments, then finished with a quirky hot dog (American inspired?) fried rice with yet more chilli! By this stage my tastebuds were definitely feeling the full assault of heat, but my spice-loving-self is such a sucker for punishment I enjoyed every minute of it. We rounded off the meal with the hottoek, a slightly dense, chewy pancake, served with a miso ice cream; a fittingly indulgent end to the feast.
Throughout all this gluttony we were also fully embracing the Korean drinking culture and staying well quenched, beers for a certain someone and the popular Korean liquor mixed with aloe vera juice for me. So by the time lunch was over, you’d think we would be stuffed more than the Sunday roast chicken with food and booze… and you’d be right. But would that stop us from nibbling on a couple more dishes… we just couldn’t resist trying out the Club Gascon’s winning Best in Taste dish of barbecued foie gras, a couple of sushi rolls from Sake No Hana, a some decadent sweet treats from Sixtyone and Ametsa with Azrak Instruction.
I loved both days I spent at Taste of London, though it’s pretty hard to find something to complain about when you’re enjoying excellent food and drink on gloriously sunny London days! Right now I’m looking forward to getting all that good stuff again at Taste of London Winter- let’s hope it lives up to expectations!
You should know- I attended as a guest of Taste of London 2014, but as always, all opinions are my own.