Can we talk about Korean food?
Korean food has been on my list for a long time, but due to knowing very little about it, apart from that time I met a group of Koreans in New Zealand and had a taster of Korean culture, before watching some questionable Korean horror films (!) it seems to have moved down the list, in favour of the usual suspects.
But since being back in Birmingham, Topokki is a restaurant I hear about on the regular- from friends, family and colleagues- everyone has a soft spot for it.
Toppoki is based on Hurst Street in the China Quarter and is a lively, casual restaurant, serving authentic Korean food which even Koreans engage with- always a good sign! The design is everything I like in a restaurant- simple, stripped back and quirky in equal measure.
It’s busy, buzzing and most importantly, unfussy- you could easily eat here alone or as part of a group, with no judgement- tick. I’m a big fan of an open-plan kitchen too, as I’ve mentioned before and confirms that these guys are serious and confident about their food and so they should be.
We ordered Salad Bibimbaps with Bulgogi- warm white rice, topped with Korean style beef, lettuce, cucumber, mushroom, kimchi (traditional fermented cabbage pickle), sesame oil and hot chilli sauce, served in a heavy, sizzling, stoneware pot where it continues to cook (£6.95). The beef was marinated and cooked well and the rice was almost sticky so I could use my chopsticks with ease. How sophis does it feel to eat with chopsticks, though? Ok, just me. The fresh vegetables and kimchi added freshness and vibrancy to the dish and the chilli paste added a serious kick which I enjoyed!
The thing I liked most about the Bibimbap was that despite the variety of ingredients and the intense heat from the stone pot, it still managed to taste really light and balanced. I can imagine this tasting even better in the summer months, with a nice cold beer, al fresco.
We also ordered a Kimchi Pancake which came with soy sauce (£5.95) and Korean Style Sweet and Spicy Fried Chicken (£6.50) to share which was delicious and incredibly moreish- it didn’t last long.
I really enjoyed the food at Topokki- it was tasty, fresh, the portions were generous and the low prices are questionable- it really makes me wonder why Topokki haven’t bumped these up a little, but let’s keep that to ourselves…
The service was friendly, informative and we were talked through the menu and even told that if we pay by cash, we could get 10% off the bill. Erm, let me grab my coat and nip to the cashpoint… I’m looking forward to visiting again soon to try more of the menu and so should you! Go on, get your Korean fix, today, tomorrow, NOW.