With its not-so-eye catching exterior and photo menu at the entrance, this Korean restaurant at Plaça Urquinaona would be easy to pass without giving it a second glance. However, I have passed many times and the fact it is often busy, is sparklingly clean and has an open kitchen to its rear meant it had caught my attention enough to pay it a visit.
Now I’ll make my disclaimer here. I know very little about Korean food and only ate it for the first time on a trip to Mexico City last summer whilst staying in a neighbourhood with many Korean immigrants and restaurants. So what follows is based on nothing more than I like what I ate and where I ate it, rather than a deep knowledge of the cuisine.
Restaurant Corea is a series of sunken wooden booths where the friendly staff explain how you order via a screen at your table then bring you your requested dishes. A great system for people like me who always fancy everything and take a while to make their minds up. The open kitchen again means curious diners like me can see what is being cooked up while they wait.
Slightly over-ordering due to dietary requirements, along with the complementary pickles we chose the spicy Korean rice cake (which I believe is called tteok ppoki) suitable for my gluten free companion. Made with the flour of pounded rice it was umami and spicy yet in the mouth the texture reminded me of a fat but denser marshmallow like the ones I used to eat as a child.
Alongside another vegetarian dish, the highlight for me, called bibimbap which is a dish of rice, sauteed vegetables and seaweed with a moreish chilli sauce, sesame and a wonderful runny egg.
The seafood omelette was light, almost pillowy and adorned with prawns, pieces of squid, finely chopped vegetables and crab sticks. Half of it was equally good for next morning’s breakfast..yes I will happily eat most things for breakfast.
Following my Mexico experience I was keen to cook some meat on the grill at each table, although this time not quite as exciting as this is a piping hot plate with greaseproof paper and oil rather than over a charcoal grill. That said it still produced a smoky flavour on the thinly sliced, fat marbled beef sprinkled with the accompanying salt, sesame and spice powder. I learnt that Korean food uses sesame more than I ever realised. Other diners were grilling too but with a whole array of items to char, this approach is definitely on the ‘to do’ list for the next visit.
The weakest dish of the meal was the chicken fried with green peppers, onions and whole chillis which was on the bland side and to quote my friend “felt a bit like all the off cuts thrown in the fryer”.
I hinted at the cleanliness of this place at the start of this blog and whilst it may seem a strange point to focus on I really feel it is worthy of a mention. The place was absolutely spotless, so much so it stood out, even in the bathrooms. For me this, a kitchen it is confident to show off, excellent value satisfying food, a bathroom you could eat your dinner off and even a not too shabby 8€ chardonnay mean I’ll be making a return visit to Restaurant Corea. I’ll be making sure I encourage others do too.
Restaurant Corea, Ronda de Sant Pere, 25 Born/Urquinaona
Accepts Ticket Restaurant