New Malden, a far, far punt from Central London, is known as a hub of the London-based Korean community. As much as we'd like to dub it as such, however, it's relative remoteness makes it impossible to be called 'Koreatown'. The small congregation of Korean cafes and restaurants nestled by Centre Point, on the other hand, looks promising.

Consistently filled with Korean expats and students along with other Asian and non-Asian fans of Korean food, if ever we made a call on the number of natives in a restaurant being an indication of the food's quality, this would be it. Though we've heard the bibimbap at Pho Cha next door is better, the version they do here is pretty spot-on, all sizzling pots and fresh vegetables, with a delicious egg cracked on top. All the Korean favourites are present - japchae (savoury Korean pancake) was tasty and tasted freshly made, while chi gae (spicy meat and vegetable stew) was piping hot and deliciously comforting on a cold day. Korean rice dishes often involve either a stir-fry or a light curry-style sauce with punchy pepper flavour - a personal favourite of chap tang bab was stuffed full of flash-cooked squid, beef and shrimp and was happiness on a plate. A range of Korean beers and spirits (the Korean soju, similar to vodka) are available.

The dining room is small and at peak time there's usually a bit of a wait, but staff are accommodating and friendly. Prices are very reasonable.


Assa, 53 St Giles High Street, Soho, WC2H 8LH

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