Brougham Place, Edinburgh
I’m almost ashamed to admit that, in all my years on this planet, I have never eaten Korean food before – and we pass by this neat, pristine little restaurant on Brougham Place nearly every day of our lives on our way to the Quartermile – so, we tell ourselves, why not give it a whirl? I’m very glad we do.
There’s a scrupulously clean interior and a decidedly friendly atmosphere at the Ong Gie. A gentleman called Wan strolls over to the table and introduces himself. This is his place, he tells us and, if we need recommendations or advice, he’s happy to oblige. Wan, it has to be said, is a bit of a charmer and in moments we’re chatting happily away as if we’ve known each other for years. I can’t help feeling that every restaurant should have somebody like Wan front of house.
For starters, we choose two dishes – Jumbo Chicken Wings and Seafood Pancakes with spring onion and courgettes. The former are just what we expect – four generously sized pieces of chicken with a crispy coating and a deliciously sticky sweet chilli sauce. The other starter, however, is a real surprise – four chunky potato pancakes, generously stuffed with prawns and satisfyingly glutinous. These have a soy dipping sauce. Both starters are spot on and we look forward to the main courses. (I should perhaps point out that the service here is excellent, Wan clearly running the place with precision.)
For mains we order Crispy Rice with Seafood Stew – the rice makes a deliciously crunchy base onto which is poured an aromatic casserole featuring king prawns, mussels and squid. There’s a lovely touch of theatre when the stew is poured onto the rice at the table making a delightful hissing sound. Talking of theatre, we also opt for the Yang Gogi Jumool Luk, which is a lamb barbecue. It hasn’t escaped our notice that set into each table is a rectangular grill. The spicy marinated lamb is brought to the table in a bowl and we are invited to cook it ourselves, bit-by-bit or all at once. It certainly makes for an appetising experience as the meat hisses and sizzles in front of our very eyes. Once it’s done to our satisfaction, we pop it into a lettuce leaf, add some sauces to taste and away we go. With the main courses we share a bowl of Udon noodles, served cold and simply perfect to cut through the exotic flavours of the marinaded meat.
As if all this isn’t exciting enough, I feel I have to say something about the price. This place is extraordinary value for money. Our meal for two, including a bottle of prosecco and a Tsingtao beer, comes to around sixty pounds. Have we enjoyed our first meal of Korean food? Oh yes we have. Would we recommend it to others? In a heartbeat. And will we be coming back again. Try and stop us.