Address 9 Golden Sq, Soho, W1F 9HZ, Phone 020 74342073
Web site arang.co.uk
Main dish price range £6-10
Rating 5 Stars. The best restaurant in its genre in London.
Recommended dishes Soondubu
When ever I tell friends I am starting an Ethnic food blog or that I'm into "Ethnic Eating" some smarty invariably asks how can I possibly call I distinguish any food as being "ethnic" when in fact all food was produced by somebody according to some ethnicity. Today, walking into Aragi, I feel I finally found an answer. It's a Korean restaurant in Soho, one of about a handful that I've been to -- but despite the tony location in Golden Square, this place appears to cater to exclusively Koreans. There were Koreans young and old, well dressed and fantastically fobby, crammed into every table in the dining area, and spilling into the basement karaoke lounge. I could tell this would be a great ethnic restaurant, and I immediately found my definition as such: a restaurant serving the food of a particular ethinc group, with an aim to primarily serving expatriates from that ethnic group. We arrived around 8pm after a long walk in the cool evening, and were seated in a karaoke booth down in the basement. It was a small room with a large TV, and into it had been placed a large stone table. A little weird, but no big deal. The menus had a few pages only in Korean, but most of it was translated into English as well, with a few pictures to aid the novice along. Overall, there was a far greater variety of food than what I'm used to seeing in London. I would have loved to have sampled some new Korean dishes, but I had been craving Soondubu all day, and my companions a Bibimbap and a Chapchae respectively. The menu also listed a number of the small banchan plates, suggesting that these must be ordered and paid for (these are complementary in most Korean restaurants around the world). We ordered three, and got six, so it appears Arang is splitting the difference. The food was, I must say, very very good. Soondubu is not a hard dish to prepare, but is very hard to get right. All one must do to prepare passable version is simply add some Korean chilli paste and tofu to boiling stock, stir and serve. But the secret to a great Soondubu is to build up a great stock -- usually from well marrowed beef bones. Tonight, it was excellent. Hats off to a great dish, and at £7.50 for the main course, it was a steal as well. I'm definitely coming back here -- for the food, but also for the Karaoke. I envision a fine evening lies in my near future...