I love Korean food, and miss my days of working in New Malden in Surrey, where I used to pop out for a Korean lunch at least three days a week. Whilst my colleagues popped to the supermarket for the makings of a sandwich or salad, I feasted on dolsot bibimbap, japchae, kimchi jigae, Korean fried chicken, jajangmyeon, pork bulgogi and fried egg on rice, tteokbokki, yukgaejang, and – when I had enough time – Korean barbeque!
Korean barbeque is a wonderfully interactive way of eating, cooking morsels of meat and seafood on a barbeque griddle, and eating each piece wrapped into lettuce or herb parcels with a range of condiments and sauces. Of course, there are lots of additional dishes to enjoy alongside the barbeque to round out the meal.
I heard of eN Korean BBQ in Hereford soon after they opened (and eyed up their offering vicariously by way of photos shared by friends who visited) but failed to organise a visit until we booked a weekend away in Chester. Our route passed almost directly through Hereford and eN made the perfect lunch stop to start the weekend off in style.
The menu is divided into two, with one side for barbeque and hot dishes, and the other side devoted to sushi. We soon realise that sushi is the main choice during our lunch time visit but I am determined to barbeque! The menu is quite a bit briefer than I’m used to with a scant few raw meat and seafood choices and a fairly small selection of other dishes (including korean fried chicken, pajeon pancakes and garlic fried rice) but excluding my usual go-to additions of tteokbokki, japchae and cold silken tofu served in a spicy sauce. That said, I’m told that the barbeque menu changes weekly, so perhaps some of my favourites may be available next time we visit.
We start with K-POP Chicken which is super crisp, yet tender and moist inside, and delicious in its fiery sauce. I particularly love the serving of pickled daikon it comes with. A lunch of nothing but (two or three portions of) this dish would make me perfectly happy!
Pork mandu are crisply fried, simple and delicious.
Knowing we’re booked for a three course dinner with friends later in the day, we restrict ourselves to two items for the barbeque – Beef bulgogi and thinly sliced pork belly. This is where eN BBQ really shines; the quality of their meat (and I imagine their seafood too) is really good.
Banchan choices are limited, and the set of three that includes pickled onions, beansprouts and spinach is unusually bland. This is the one disappointment of the meal.
Oi muchim cucumber salad is better, with good texture and a kick of acidity.
And the condiments that come with the Korean barbeque are also very good – a generous bowl of shredded spring onion, seasoned sesame oil and an unexpectedly fantastic ssamjang (Korean barbeque dipping sauce) that has a wonderfully complex flavour profile and not too much chilli heat (for me) to enjoy it!
The electric powered grill is easy to control – I appreciate that the controls are on the table top rather than hidden away from access under the table as is often the case. The meat cooks quickly but not so fast that the pork belly meat overcooks before the fat takes on a lovely brown!
I love the slow and relaxed pace of Korean barbeque, cooking a few pieces of meat as you go, wrapping, dipping and eating them one at a time… between mouthfuls of banchan and rice…
It’s a great lunch!
There are a few other seafood and meats to try next time we visit, though I’m still not sure whether to splurge for the Kagoshima grade A4-A5 wagyu at £56 for 150 grams! I’ll probably try the tiger prawns or scallops, and the local Hereford ribeye beef, and maybe the Korean corn dog, garlic and chilli squids, or king prawn tempura.
Our bill came to £57.30 before service, definitely pricier than other Korean restaurants I’ve visited but not unreasonable for the quality of food.