Korean Barbecue Restaurant Yanji Is A Sizzling, Satisfying Meat Feast
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Summer is barbecue season, which is all well and good until you can't get the coals to light, and a worryingly dark cloud appears overhead. At Yanji, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Shoreditch, it's a lot less stressful — take a seat indoors, place your order and let the barbecue come to you.
The staff deliver some burning coals to a specially-designed pit within our table, and an extractor fan above it, so there's no worry of smelling of charcoal after our meal. Seasoned barbecue fans needn't worry though — the meat comes in skewers for us to grill at our own pace, with the clever addition of grooves that rotate the skewers for you.
Throw in some side salads and some savoury and spicy dips, and you're all set for a weatherproof barbecue.
It's rather freeing having control of when our food is going to be ready, no craning to see if that waiter coming out of the kitchen is en-route to our table. Both chicken and lamb skewers are juicy and tender, welcoming us in gently before we dive into the more exotic offerings. Turns out chicken hearts are much more delicious than they sound, though crunchy chicken gizzard isn't for us.
Yanji is one for the carnivores, with pig intestines and beef aorta also making an appearance on the menu. The spicy okra salad is a zinging veggie side, and you haven't had an authentic Korean dining experience without some Kimchi. Both are proof that we did eat some vegetables between devouring skewers of meat, but this isn't really a place that caters well for veggies — not surprising for a barbecue restaurant.
The staff are on hand throughout to provide their expert opinion on whether the meat is thoroughly cooked, and ensure us novices don't poison ourselves. Yanji is focusing on quality rather than quantity and it shows — nearly every skewer is dripping with flavour and while it's filling, it doesn't leave us stuffed.
It's not all barbecue dishes on the menu. Dumplings and noodles are available from the kitchen, but grilling your own meat is the main reason people will come to this restaurant and the variety in texture and flavour on offer doesn't disappoint.
There's no dessert option but we finish up by lightly toasting some marshmallows, which brings our meal to a gooey, saccharine and satisfying end.
Yanji Barbecue is at 153 Bethnal Green Road, E2 7DG. The meal in this review would cost circa £45 for two excluding drinks.
Last Updated 13 September 2019