In a corner of Bermondsey, right by the river, is one of many traditional East End boozers. Outside: picnic benches, barrels to put your pint glasses on, hanging baskets of flowers, and a view towards Tower Bridge (right).
Inside, it’s cosy. High on the wall, a TV showing the footie (left). Oak paneled walls. In the 1970s, episodes of The Sweeney were apparently filmed there. It does pub food. Sunday roasts. Fish and chips. Steak. Vinegared whelks. You can’t get more London than that.
Take two. Let’s read that again.
Whelks with noodle salad in a spicy vinegar sauce. Hmmm… Poussin stuffed with rice and boiled in a broth of ginseng, dried jujube fruit, garlic and ginger. Sound suspiciously like samgyetang?
On the walls, where you might expect to see hunting prints, framed genre paintings on hanji. Above the bar, where horse brasses might be more usual, pictures of Galbi and bulgogi.
You’re getting the picture. This is, after all, London Korean Links. Behind the bar, owner Kim Jin-wook with barmaid Min-jeong.
The menu also had pajeon, bibimbap, kimchi chigae and the like. Landlord Kim has run the pub for over two years. Inevitably, it’s become a regular watering hole for visiting Korean tourists, but it also caters to the locals. Even visiting Japanese pop in and try out the beer-battered fish. But this was the first time that the Korean Language Meetup Group had paid a visit. And it was my first meetup with the Meetup Group, a jolly gathering of a dozen or so Koreans, Brits, Irish, Indians, in fact anyone who’s vaguely interested in Korea.
You don’t have to speak Korean to join in. I don’t, and nor does Luke. And it was the first time for several of us. The group was started by Jae-min (aka J) and about two years ago, but really took off this year. It generally meets one Saturday per month in the West End. This was possibly its first weekday meetup.
We tucked into table-top grilled meats and kimchi washed down with chilled John Smiths. And when we’d had our fill, the noraebang downstairs beckoned. I’m told the first number performed was a Westlife song – “You raise me up”. It sounded rather like the Londonderry Air, and appropriately enough it was Robert from Buk-Ireland who was singing it in a rather fine tenor voice. But on the screen… the wonderful Lee Young Ae. And next up, clips from My Sassy Girl.
Altogether a fun evening. Try the Old Justice any time, or the Korean Language Meetup Group whenever it … er … meets.
The Old Justice is at 94 Bermondsey Wall East, London SE16 4TY, nearest tube: Bermondsey. At the time of writing, the phone number you’ll find listed on web pages doesn’t work. Food is no longer served at lunchtime.
Update: As of May 2015 the Old Justice is under new management and I’m guessing the menu, if there is one, is now completely different. But Chef Kim Jin-wook is still going: his new place, K Place, opened in the City off Eastcheap in June 2015, and the food is just as good, if not better.