Reviewing Korean restaurant Bada in Godalming
PUBLISHED: 10:34 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:34 16 October 2018
A taste of Korea has swept into the beautiful market town of Godalming as Bada sets out its stall with a tapas-style fusion of seafood, traditional dishes and spice
The last time I stepped into a Korean restaurant, it was in New Malden and I spent most of the evening enjoying delicious and unpronounceable food while avoiding burns from the BBQ pit in the centre of the table and invites to the karaoke bar downstairs. It was a fun evening but for some reason, despite being swept along on waves of unique and intriguing flavours, I never delved further into Korean food – perhaps it was the dread of having to sing for my supper… So, when I first stumbled across Bada, billing itself as a melting pot of Korean/Asian fusion tapas and featuring absolutely no references to audience participation on its website, I decided it was time to put things right.
While New Malden may be famous for its huge Korean expatriate population and the multicultural flavours they bring to the suburbs, Bada is found in the market town of Godalming, which, as far as I’m aware, is not.
For someone who lives over in the east of Surrey, a visit to Godalming for an evening out can often feel like a case of musical chairs as the restaurants have changed so often in recent years. Two of the newest kids on the block in 2018 are Acorn, which replaced Barbaracca (formerly known as La Luna), and Bada, formerly Corretto.
Flavours from the sea
One of the things that excited me most about Bada, as well as not having to break into The Beatles’ Come Together after my main course, was hearing that one of the new owners is Michal Jezierski of Godalming Fish. With Bada meaning ‘sea’ in Korean, I couldn’t resist the thought of spicy, sultry seafood to sweep me through the summer heatwave.
Arriving at the venue, which still wears the trendy clothes of the building’s former inhabitants, we’re introduced to Jihyun, wife of Michal, co-owner of the restaurant and, you guessed it, Korean born. She’s a bright, breezy and refreshing character, who is hugely excited by the challenge of the project.
Depending on your tastes, you can pull up a high stool for a Singapore Sling or, erm, Kimchi Bloody Mary; occupy one of the larger tables that are perfect for group dining; or cuddle up in a corner for a laid-back dinner for two. It feels special enough for a date and yet casual enough to become a regular haunt.
They recommend sharing three to four tapas dishes between two and we don’t need asking twice as we dive straight in and the plates start stacking up: pan-fried monkfish topped with chilli paste and served with asparagus and Asian picked radish; pan-fried Cornish mackerel with curry powder and spicy cucumber salad; Bulgogi (marinated beef in soy sauce with onion, carrot, mushroom and spring onion); and Bibimmandu (fried vegetable dumplings with spicy Asian salad)… bring it all please?!
The fish dishes are the stars of the show but there is a kaleidoscope of colour, texture and flavour. The spice soars, peaks and troughs and isn’t for the faint of heart, but however hot things get, the other ingredients are never smothered. Having never tried hotteok (Korean sweet pancakes), we cannot resist the lure of desserts but before that we try a little soju – a surprisingly subtle traditional rice spirit… well, it beats a sorbet. I then opt for a crème brûlée with homemade mixed berry jam. It’s delicious, while the pancakes, filled with brown sugar and peanuts, seem like they should be too heavy but somehow float and are utterly addictive.
It’s fair to say that Bada is very much Korean ideas transformed for the English market but that makes for a rather unique place with plenty of promise. If you enjoy your casual dining with a spicy kick, it’s well worth a visit. Make sure to order the fish but leave your microphone at home.
Bada, 10 Queen Street, Godalming GU7 1BD; 01483 527 526; badatapas.co.uk
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