I don’t even feel ashamed in admitting that the first time I tried bibimbap it was purely for the novelty of the hot stone bowl. Crockery that also cooks? Brilliant. Almost as good as those forks that spin automatically so as to load themselves with spaghetti. I now realise that the dish itself is more exciting (just) than its platter, and Koba’s version is especially good. Punchy flavours, crunchy veg and soft strips of savoury chicken all lift what is essentially a DIY stir-fry to being a comforting, interesting dish that satisfies while maintaining an air of health (though let’s not pretend it’s not a treat lunch).
Thanks to their central location, Koba are well set up for a lunch hour feed, and once you’ve got your order in the miso soup and pickles pop up almost immediately. The food isn’t memorably delicious, but it does taste very good indeed, and I suspect that this is the sort of place where there isn’t a dud on the menu. The beef stir fry that looked so like a dinner lady had been in charge of it was actually a treat, and its pile of perfect sticky rice left me full and happy. The no-nonsense service and nearby business lunches left the atmosphere a bit flat, but the food had enough character for this to make a very enjoyable midday stop-off.
11 Rathbone Street W1T 1NA, 020 7580 8825