Young Bean Korean restaurant is now at 2-3 Bassishaw Highwalk, London EC2V 5DS, new telephone number 020 7638 4463, open M-F noon-15.00, 17.30-21.30 (or 17.00-21.00 holidays). NB It's a bit tricky to find, see directions below.
That was a public service announcement for devotees who thought Young Bean had closed for good when it disappeared a while back. Although it reopened in September 2008 in a nearby location, its new phone number was virtually impossible to find online. Except here, of course, now.
If you don’t know Young Bean, it’s a long-established Korean restaurant in the City which also serves Japanese and Chinese food.
I’m not fond of their all you can eat lunchtime buffet, but I absolutely love their delicious bibimbap – as you can see from that Wikipedia article, that’s a Korean speciality, rice served in a pre-superheated large stone bowl with veg and, depending on what you choose, raw beef with raw egg or vegetables, etc.
The bowl is almost a mini wok, except there’s no oil – the idea is that you cook the raw meat / egg yourself by stirring everything within the bowl with a long handled spoon; the DIY stir fry is fun if you like to play with your food! There’s also chilli sauce to mix in. But be very careful not to touch the bowl or you’ll burn yourself. Literally. It's that hot.
The £12 bibimbap meal also includes a bowl of miso soup (delicate tasty soup with beancurd – tofu – and spring onions) plus, if you go at lunchtime, a small side portion of cooked vegetable such as kimchi (pickled Chinese cabbage with chilli) – a Korean classic. It’s a much more balanced meal than you get with standard Western fare, as there’s a fair amount of veg in it.
Young Bean is great value for money especially for the City, and the service is good and quick too. For instance, if you're going to see a show, movie or concert at the Barbican, it's excellent for a quick bite beforehand, as it's relatively quiet at dinnertime. If you're going at lunchtime try to go at 12 or 12.30 pm as it gets very busy at about 1pm.
If you’ve never had Korean cuisine before and you like Far Eastern / East Asian food, you owe it to yourself to try Young Bean's bibimbap (and try the kimchi too, though best eat that with other food in the same mouthful to leaven it, rather than by itself, as it’s quite potent).
The bulgogi, another traditional Korean dish, is also well worth trying if you like beef. Yum, I’m hungry already.
Directions to Young Bean
Young Bean can be hard to find as it’s on a highwalk, not at ground level. The easiest way to get to it is to go up the escalators towards the Barbican from Moorgate tube, then when you get to the water ponds turn left down the bridge, keep going straight through the gardens, cross the overhead bridge over London Wall, and it’s right there in front of you.
(There’s also steps up from the west side of Basinghall Street – go up the steps then turn right up more steps – but Google Street View only shows construction works, so no help there.)