23 Jul GoGo Pocha
If I had to choose one cuisine to eat for a year, Korean would be a strong contender. My favourite moments from South Korea revolve around sizzling meat at the table in a barbecue restaurant, their famous bibimbap and overflowing hotpots! At home I have tried recipes from Maangchi, a bubbly Korean Youtuber living in New York, whose recipes are both authentic and manageable across the board. Her Japchae recipe has won over many members of my family – it consists of glass noodles made from starchy sweet potatoes, colourful vegetables, fried strips of beef and fragrant sesame oil. Check our her recipe archive for inspiration and happy food vibes! More recently my search for a good lunch deal around Waterloo led me to the intriguingly named GoGo Pocha. With a promising £6 lunch set menu and the lure of traditional Korean cooking, it would have been madness not to try it!
My friend and I arrived around 1.30 and were seated right away. After our order was taken we were served two ‘banchan’, Korean side dishes. It’s common in Korea to be served multiple banchan which complement your meal such as kimchi, pickles and sesame spinach. Chefs can invent adventurous or neutral banchan, whatever balances out your menu. I was pleased to see this tradition in action at GoGo Pocha. You’d expect there to be a hidden fee for something like this in London, but here they are provided for free. One was a little seaweed salad, sharp with vinegar. The other was bean sprouts with a slight sesame hint. We were also given a bowl of deeply savoury miso soup. All three tasted great and were good appetisers before the mains.
Service was super speedy and the spicy pork with vegetables appeared minutes after ordering. My lunch date gave this two out of three chillies on the heat scale. The Koreans love their gochujang, aka chilli paste! With the accompanying white rice this makes a perfect lunch portion. My choice was the kimchi stew with pork and tofu. Despite the vibrant red soup, this is not as hot as you’d think. Warming, not dribbling. There are two large cuboids of soft white tofu with a few bite-sized pieces of pork scattered in the stew. Pork and cabbage is clearly a classic combination worldwide! The star of the dish is of course the kimchi. This particular batch seemed to be a fresher kimchi, ie. not fermented for that long and therefore had a mild flavour. My mum makes delicious kimchi which she ferments for 6 months before eating. I think it must be so rewarding to finally taste the products you’ve taken so much time and care over. The wait really makes it a special event!
During our meal, I noticed the diners were mainly individuals with the occasional couple. it’s a great place for solo dining as it’s quiet and relaxing, a bit of head space away from hectic offices or loud rehearsal venues. The lunch set menu is an absolute winner for £6. You have plenty of options from rice or noodle dishes, hot or cold and spicy or mild. The value is undeniable – a main, miso soup and banchan all for less than a salad from high street chains. GoGo Pocha has marched its way to the top of my regulars list and I intend to work my way through that set menu!
Total receipt: £6
1x kimchi stew
Rating: 10/10 Go Go Go!