6 Panton Street,
(020) 7930 8881
The ViewLondon Review
The casual Korean dining room Jindalle is a convenient and affordable place to sample the diverse flavours of Korean cooking.
Jindalle lies a short but comfortable distance outside Leicester Square, close to the theatres and cinemas but secluded from the throngs of tourists. The interior is narrow yet spacious, built from red bricks, dark woods, and white walls. It is stylish in an unaffected way; not especially impressive, but then it doesn’t try too hard to impress.
Like its decor, Jindalle’s atmosphere is laid back and unpretentious; it is also quiet, but not intimately or oppressively so – it may be a good spot for a casual but adventurous first date. A soft bubble of Korean and English can be heard over muzak renditions of Avril Lavigne and Elton John, which is not so much annoying as amusing. Service is attentive and polite if a bit shy.
Jindalle boasts an almost intimidatingly extensive menu of small dishes, many of which are not very accurately translated from Korean. A dish described as a courgette pancake, for example, actually turns out to be thick slices of courgette dunked in a thin, eggy batter and pan-fried. They are flavourful and juicy (if a bit oily and overcooked), and they come with a deliciously tart, sweet soy-and-vinegar dipping sauce. But they are not pancakes.
The menu is nothing if not diverse, full of dishes hot and cold, spicy and mild, meaty and meat-free. However, quality varies as well. The thick noodles with seafood are flawed, with overdone mussels and a single miserly prawn, but ultimately winsome with tender squid and chewy noodles in a lightly smoky, fishy sauce. The beef kalbi is too sweet, but it comes very close to excellence – the supple, thinly-sliced sirloin is marinated in a spicy, addictively tangy sauce that caramelises nicely on the table’s built-in grill.
But strangely, the sides are perhaps the most impressive dishes here. The snappy kimchi, sour radishes, and sesame-scented bean sprouts are superb, and their cold crunch provides a much-needed textural counterpoint to an otherwise entirely soft and chewy meal.
A handful of exotic but basically interchangeable lagers are on offer. You can try Hite, one of Korea’s most popular beers, but don’t expect anything more special than Stella. Instead, try a soju, the dangerously drinkable 25 percent alcohol Korean liquor that tastes like a lightly sweet hybrid of vodka and sake. Clean and mellow with a very sneaky kick, it’s surprisingly refreshing and goes well with the food’s varied flavours.
The Last Word
Dinner at Jindalle can be had for a tenner, and there are large multi-course meals starting at £20 – many of which include a drink. The three-course lunch special is a particularly good deal at under £10. So while food at Jindalle is often less than amazing, it would be hard to find meal of comparable quality for less around Leicester Square.
Be the first to review Jindalle...