Last week I finally headed to New Malden to check out the Korean grocery store a friend had excitedly told me about weeks ago. I had been through the town before years ago when I used to live in Kingston but it fell off my radar after I moved closer into the city. Like every out of town oriental supermarket, the Korea Foods Mart is stuff full with items so many in Asia take for granted in their local supermarkets (I know I do when I'm in Malaysia) and it's cheaper than Chinatown, my one other access to Asian food (the out of town Chinese supermarkets tend to close pretty early, making it impossible for me to get to) . So I did (understandably?) go a little mad when I was there, nonchalantlychucking things into the trolley - things I may have thought twice about buying if I were in New Loon Moon or Loon Fung.
After stocking up on grocery goodies, it was time to find something to eat. My web search of New Malden hadn't gone beyond looking for directions to the supermarket. No worries we'll just pop into a restaurant that looks like it's full of locals, which is how we ended up at Yeon-Ji. There was a large table of Korean business men and a further 3 tables occupied by Korean couples - rather promising then. And every table had either a hotpot bubbling away or a smoking hotplate with sizzling meat. Korean barbecue it was.
We had an order of samgyeopsal (thin slices of pork belly) that came with little dishes of sesame oil, salt and pepper for the meat to be dipped into once we had cooked it. The pork was good - caramelised on the edges and tasting very much like bacon. However, we were never supplied with any fresh veg to wrap our meat in or the spicy bean paste that is, I believe, usually served with barbecued meats. Oh well, it was tasty enough just with the rice and our serving of banchan.
Our other order was bulgogi (thin slices of marinated beef). Like the pork, the meat was delicious. The marinade made a lovely sticky sauce that went down so well with the rice.
The orders of meat were priced at £8 each and it was £2 for 2 bowls of steamed rice. Not particularly expensive but it was disappointing to pay that price when there were missing bits to the meal. They also don't accept cards (for any amount) and we had to go looking for a cash machine. A pretty mean feat as we soon discovered as there were none that were in service on Burlington Road. Our server was quite sweet about it when I explained that I would have to wait whilst my companion had to head back to the high street to get some cash but what a pain in the neck experience it was for us! On my next trip to New Malden I must remember bring a wad of cash and perhaps try one of the other restaurants.
106 Burlington Road, New Malden, KT3 4NS Surrey
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