Located in a beautiful Grade II-listed building originally owned by the East India Company, Old Bengal Bar is a fabulous destination for city dwellers or sophisticated Shoreditch residents. This month, OBB are hosting an Asian-fusion pop up called Busan BBQ – truly excellent food.
I took a friend who, so far, had been party to perhaps my least favourite review meals. Don’t get me wrong, I never take the opportunity to try new things and see new places for granted! I was just ecstatic that we didn’t have to try a combination of jerk chicken, courgette, aubergine and pineapple again.
Back to OBB…I was barely handed the menu before deciding on one of their new Orient-inspired cocktails called Highway Lights, which was a refreshing and tart combination of Tanqueray gin, grapes, pink grapefruit syrup and soda.
There are six options on the pop-up’s menu, including burgers, ribs, wings, hot dogs and fried prawns, all of which are classic American diner fare, but this time jazzed up with an Asian twist. We ordered four dishes from the menu, which were plenty. Another visit to sample the dishes we missed is definitely in order.
We started with the pork belly with gochujang sauce, mooli and yoghurt slaw, which was an instant hit with my friend – I could tell, as he very slyly cut a larger half for himself. It was a tantalising mix of spicy and sweet, with lots of layers of flavour, and reminded me of a pork version of crispy shredded beef in a bun – a fusion that worked spectacularly well.
The Busan burger was equally delicious – a 28-day patty of beef, cooked rare, dunked in bulgogi sauce and topped with mustard, pickled onion and ssamjang mayonnaise. I’m not a burger fanatic, but with these Asian flavours it was quite a delight.
Both the spicy pork ribs with a sticky gochujang glaze and prawn po boy with tangy yuja mayonnaise were tasty morsels, but didn’t quite have the same complex flavours as the buns. However, there’s no denying that all the plates together created a real street feast.
Desserts were off the New Street Grill menu, as AmeriKorean hasn’t yet diversified into sweet options. We chose scoops of banana and salted caramel ice cream and poached peach with raspberry sorbet. Both were sweet and cooling after our spicy street treats. This time we decided to go all out and plump for the paired wine option; we were blown away by the combination of tart peach and the sweet, almost nutty, flavours of a perfect Rivesaltes Ambré. The sommelier is clearly a talented chap.
We both agreed that our meal was made particularly enjoyable by our excellent waitress, who was relaxed and attentive. She insisted we try a exquisite Sicilian dessert wine, Ben Rye, before leaving – it’s these informal, affable touches that elevate the OBB restaurant experience beyond an everyday meal.
By the time we left, the experience had turned out to be an odd coupling of Asian fusion and French classic! I have to say that I love the idea of groups of businessmen in snappy suits dribbling spicy pork belly down their pristine shirts after a day in the City – something AmeriKorean seems to be tailor-made for. There’s no denying it’s a messy eat, but as our waitress pointed out, it’s street food; it’s supposed to be that way.
Monday – Tuesday
Old Bengal Bar
16 New St