Palace – Review (New Malden – Little Korea) My Korean adventure continues

I’m creeping South of the River again for my Korean fix, but seriously there’s no better place for it than the burbs of New Malden as it’s one of the most densely populated places for South Korean residents outside of Korea (20k+ and counting). The portions are good here with rustic home style cooking made by your Korean mama in the kitchen. The decor isn’t anything to shout home about with it’s drop ceiling tiles, basic wooden tables, chairs patina’d walls needing a lick of paint – but who cares as I’m here for the food.

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The menu is perfect for any novice Korean eater as every dish has it’s English name and corresponding picture. What makes things really confusing though is as you can see below on the 2nd to last page there are 2 sides of Chinese dishes – how weird is that? I wouldn’t dare dine in a restaurant with multiple cuisines available as it dilutes the spirit of it. It’s kinda buffet-esque but for now I’m concentrating on the Korean cuisine, having Korean folk around me is reassuring.

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With any good Korean meal it has to kick-off with good banchan – this is a variety of small side dishes which are essential to have alongside your soup or rice. And of course some bottles of Hite.

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Ubiquitous kimchi – it’s made in-house and it’s good here, a good level of fermentation and crunch means flavour impact.

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Gamjajorin – potato with sweet soy. The potato soaks up all the flavour of that soy and softens the chilli kick in your mouth from the kimchi.

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Mumallaengi-muchim – spiced radish. It tasted fermented, not as much as the kimchi and a little sweeter too.

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Kimchi pancake £7. It’s good, not too thick and crisp – the batter takes on the spices of the kimchi as you can see in the colour. That dipping sauce (choganjang) though was something else, I can taste chilli powder, soy, sesame and spring onions – it was perfect with the pancakes.

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Fire up the grill!

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Various condiments for your grilled meats – dressed spring onions, garlic, sesame oil with salt, and fermented soy beans (doenjang) and of course some fresh lettuce for wrapping everything up.

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Prime ribs £12 boneless pieces of short-rib ready to be barbecued – just look at that marbling!

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Beef (Rib eye roll) £13. Don’t expect butcher-grade 45 day hung beef here but BBQ’d up and wrapped in lettuce with all the condiments it isn’t a bad bite at all. The short-rib has the edge though.

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This is how you do it!

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Korean braised short rib (galbijjim) £20. Rich, deeply flavoured dark sauce infused with spices, wine, garlic, ginger, soy, sugar and red dates. There are some sprinklings of pine nuts too. The meat just falls off the bone and is rich in flavour – I love this dish without reservation, how can this not be good? This is a quintessential Korean comfort dish that you have to order here, not doing so will mean missing out.

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Fried tofu £7. It’s the non-crumbly variety and is coated in egg to keep that consistency soft on the inside. It’s quite subtle this one, it’s the sort of dish you’d like if you grew up with the stuff.

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The verdict:

When did I go? March 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £35-£45 per head with drinks.
The good: My experience of Korean food comes with strong flavours and good ingredients – Palace has both, our front of house (she is the boss lady) was warm, friendly and attentive which made the meal even more enjoyable. The Korean braised short rib (galbijjim) is a right of passage if you come here, don’t forget to order it. I can say the same for the kimchi pancake – delicious. The rest, however I’m ok to miss.
The bad: New Malden is a little out the way for most, it’s not quite a destination restaurant but if you’re planning to spend a day here then check it out.
Rating: 3/5
Address: 183 High St, New Malden KT3 4BH
Phone:020 8949 3737
Closest tube/train station: New Malden

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