Found at the Shoreditch end of Old Street, On the Bab, which translates as 'on the rice' is a Friday treat worth stretching a lunch hour around. As London's first Anju restaurant, On the Bab focuses on Korean food to be shared, consumed alongside cocktails that just might impair your ability to CC, BCC and FYI when you get back to your desk, which is what Friday lunchtimes are all about, right?
With the promise of bibimbab I managed to grab some time in Shoreditch a few months ago straight after a shift, and turn up to On the Bab at one pm on a payday Friday with my boyfriend already waiting outside. The seating is what I'd call 'social'- i.e. packed in, but the service is faultless and while the menu doesn't look so vegan friendly on first glance, persevere as I did and you'll have a table full of some of the most delicious Korean food you can find in London.
Although a fried egg is a pretty central part to any run-of-the-mill bibimbab, our server was totally fine with veganising my bowl, guessing ahead when I began to ask to hold on the egg order, which is always a nice touch on making you feel slightly less like the endlessly awkward customer. The bowl of rice, mixed shredded mushrooms, cabbage, carrot, seaweed and sesame seeds, and gochujang sauce was moreish and strangely filling - like the ultimate umami taste in every mouthful.
I paired this with a small plate of saeng dubu, shredded cabbage with a pile of fresh tofu, topped with soy sauce, spring onions and toasted seaweed. This was hands-down the most delicious tofu I've ever eaten, giving a hint at how different fresh tofu can be from the grey, wobbly entities I buy in cartons from the corner shop. Surprise! It's actually delicious and wonderful next to full-on flavours when it's fresh. Whowouldathoughtit.
Everything about On the Bab was just right- from the speedy, chill service to the bibimbab and tofu- small plates and servings, but enough flavour and confidence to ensure you'll be planning your next trip before you ask for the bill.