Lotte Korean Restaurant is a place where you can get some serious food action cooked by Korean aunties at the back of a Korean supermarket. How on earth did I even actually find it? Well, it’s not a elaborate story, just from a mate’s tip-off years ago when it was a sushi restaurant. I came once or twice and witnessed a Korean man handcraft delights of raw fish from behind the counter with a display cabinet full of salmon and tuna slabs for all to see. That is what we came for, but the sushi man was no longer there – instead we get a pair of Korean aunties in charge, one taking the orders and the other cooking for a bare bones restaurant which seats about thirty. Only us and a group middle aged Korean men came for a feed who loved to stare intently in our direction as if “what are you doing here”. Maybe that’s my paranoia. Our Korean auntie earnestly points out that sushi on the menu is no longer available, but she is willing to make us some auntie style, keeping reading for that.
To commence we get a trifecta of banchan, the customary collection of small plates that come before every Korean meal. Kimchi almost invariably features, it’s good here. The cold shredded cabbage is naturally sweet and auntie’s siracha on the broccoli packs a chilli punch too.
The steamed dumplings £6 that bellow steam when their bamboo lid is lifted are sadly meek fisted. The pastry was too moist and broke apart when we tried pick them up with our chopsticks and leaked out under-seasoned filling. Come on aunties you’re letting the side down.
Things get better with auntie’s rendition of maki rolls Korean stylee. The rice which can be everything in sushi comes in a shade of ballet slipper pink, and warmer than your typical sushi rice. We get a tempura prawn and salmon roll, both with cucumber matchsticks. Naturally, we dredge one side in a mix of nasal singeing wasabi and soy. They were actually pretty decent.
When did I go? Apr 2018
The damage: Expect to pay £15/20 per head with tea
The good: Aside from the fact that you can pick up your Korean groceries, sauces and ramens you couldn’t resist on the way in, you can grab some auntie cooked goodness. I noticed that there were only Korean folk present which indicates that they’re business serving a local community in search of the home-style cookery.
The bad: The dumplings were a duff note, but the Korean maki are worth a look. I also noticed that the Korean customers were eating bubbling cauldrons of steaming stew. Perhaps next time I’ll have that.
Would I go again? Yes
Address: 126 Malden Rd, New Malden KT3 6DD