When you have the biggest Korean community in Europe situated in the suburb town of New Malden, invariably you will have a wee quandary of deciding where to eat so I’ll start by introducing you to Su La. It’s a magnificent little gem tucked away in between a corner shop and an unassuming B&B which serves up some delicious charcoal BBQ, pancakes and Tteokbokki. (That’s their spicy, chewy rice cake stew in case you’re wondering). It’s nicely laid out here with private booths in each end of the restaurant with seating in between and hidden rooms that have traditional floor tables within.
Roasted barley tea is a caffeine-free, thirst quenching and soothes your tongue from the spicy gochujang.
In Korean dining you’re always served a selection of mouth-watering appetisers called ‘banchan’ at the beginning. Here you have kelp seasoned with vinegar, sesame seasoned beansprouts and of course kimchi which are all glorious.
Kimchijeon – kimchi pancake £7.90. It’s some of the best I’ve had in New Malden and they are every bit as magnificent as the pictures. That umami-laden dipping sauce (choganjang) that is made of chilli powder, soy, sesame and spring onions elevates the pancake to another level.
Gun-mandu – pan fried dumplings £6.90. These are filled with seasoned mince pork, carrots, spring onions and potato glass noodles (japchae). You can’t ask for more with this crispy dumpling exterior and flavour packed filling.
Tteobokki £7.90. It’s those chewy, fudgy rice cake cylinders that exude pure eating pleasure. They are slow simmered with potent gochujang sauce and slithers of fish cakes, spring onions, carrots and cabbage.
Dipping your dumplings into the tteobokki sauce is an indispensable part of the meal.
An off menu item is the Sundae £10 – a Korean blood sausage that is widely eaten all over Korea. There is definitely some gaminess in the casing which makes a lovely snap and the filling is mainly rice based vs japchae which is synonymous of North Korea. Don’t let the concept put you off as they are really rather rewarding to eat.
This time we get a different variety of seaweed with our banchan called ‘wakame’. The crunchy slithers are seasoned with chilli and sesame. I can only describe the texture of it as uncannily like jelly-fish in a good way and I’m a pervert for this little dish. It’s delicious.
Haemul pajun – seafood and spring onion pancake £8.50. There’s teeny tiny mussels, shrimp and octopus in this crispy pancake with long slithers of sweet, fibrous spring onion. It’s magic when dipped into that choganjang sauce.
Shigumchi namal £2 – seasoned sesame spinach. I’m not sure if you have eaten cold spinach before which can be very fibrous, it tastes like it’s full of iron and if it’s good enough for Pop-eye…..
Gun-mandu – pan fried dumplings £6.90. Not ordering these would be sinful.
Banchan – we got a creamy potato salad this time which was joyous.
Haemul pajun – seafood and spring onion pancake £8.50 – just as good a the last time.
Tteobokki £7.90 – always get this as it’s damn good.
Sundae £10 – order them to avoid disappointment.
Every table here has a BBQ grill with flying saucer-like extractor fans that lower to the table, there is always cooking fumes that escape perfuming the room. The red hot charcoal is brought to the table with tongs which always provide theatrics. It’s a must if you haven’t had it before and they do it well here.
Pa-jeori £2.5 – julienned spring onions marinated with chilli and sesame oil is the quintessential condiment for your BBQ meat.
Kkotdeungsim £13 – the ribeye. Ok it’s not the dry aged rare cattle breed from your favourite steak house but it’s still good.
Beef kalbi – seasoned & marinated short ribs £10. It’s typically marinated in sweet soy, mirin, garlic, Asian pear and plenty of grated garlic. The result is in enormous flavour.
It’s a wrapper and a vehicle to carry your BBQ meat – the trick is to put a piece of meat into the lettuce, add the condiments of salted sesame oil, spicy ssamjang (fermented bean paste) and top with those spring onions. Make a wrap and shoot it in one.
It is really delectable.
When did I go? Sept/Oct 2016/Feb 2017
The damage: Expect to pay £25-£40 per head with drinks.
The good: My tips are to try everything above and that’s only a small fraction of the menu, but the ones I found I kept going back to. It’s the type of food you’d crave and it’s well worth a trip south of the river.
The bad: It’s closed on Mondays.
Would I go again? Yes
Address: St George Lodge, 79-81 Kingston Road, New Malden, KT3, 3PB
0208 336 0121