Cheese-Slathered, Chilli-Covered Korean Food Is Served At This Hackney Pub

Anju at The Gun, Well Street ★★★★☆

By Lydia Manch Last edited 16 months ago

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Cheese-Slathered, Chilli-Covered Korean Food Is Served At This Hackney Pub Anju at The Gun, Well Street 4

Got to love The Gun. They already had a good thing going — a small, J-shaped room with nearly as much bar counter as seating space, a steady buzz and a really, really excellent draught/can beer selection. (Check out our pub database listing from a few years back.)

That'd be enough alone to get us out Homerton way now and then. But now they've thrown in a nicely judged cocktail list, and — via Anju, the Korean kitchen residency that joined them on a long-term basis in August — a whole lot of the right sort of food for soaking it up.

The menu isn't dainty. It's Korean-slanted pub food, or possibly pub-slanted Korean food: what you get if you take dishes you'd traditionally think of as finger-food — you know, chips, fried cauliflower pieces, things you don't need/couldn't use cutlery for — and then try your hardest to turn them into non-finger foods via the application of enormous amounts of sloppy, melted cheese and big sheets of beef and hot, sticky Gochujang coatings.

The Gangnam fries are a very generous pile of thick fries, jalapeño, kimchi, bulgogi beef that's layered across the top in thin, hand-sized sheets. And cheese, a lot of cheese, with a strong burger cheese/Cheez Whiz energy. It's stodgy, salty, pickly (all praise, if that's not clear) and with enough chilli to keep you warm this winter — maybe through to late spring — this stuff is fierce.

Same goes for the Korean Fried Cauliflower, a Gochujang-covered stack of bite-size pieces that each pack a whale-sized punch of spice. A beautiful combination of crunch, stickiness, and softness inside the fried shell, and a deceptively slow-build of heat to an enormous, cumulative crescendo after a few pieces, this is our favourite dish of the lot. It's also the stretch of the evening where the beer menu really comes into its own for us.

Bibimbap's the mellowest of our dishes, and it's nice enough — rice a bit dry but the rest on point, and proof that you can also order from Anju without running a gauntlet of chilli. No regrets, though. The lingering facial numbness was a small price to pay for the KFC.

Not actually pitched as sharing dishes, these are still ones (bibimbap excepted) that are best split between two; the richness, stodginess and bullish flavours — and also the size — of the fries means half's ideal, the entire thing would be overkill. And you're going to want to save room for that cauliflower.  

Anju is Korean kitchen residency at The Gun, 235 Well Street, E9 6RG. There's no fixed end date for their residency, at time of writing.

Last Updated 13 December 2019