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Go Hyang Mat: for hearty Korean food that knows no frills

25 April 2018
The no-frills facade of Go Hyan Mat

The plain façade and Korean lettering were a good sign that we may have stumbled across a no-frills gem, then all was confirmed after peeping through the translucent door of Go Hyang Mat. We saw not one frill within: just lots of food on lots of tables – a surprise given it was a Monday evening.

After a quick scan of the photo-assisted menu and a glance at the dozen Korean diners eating exactly what the pictures showed, my other half and I looked at each other and said…

Shall we grab a table?

Entrance to Go Hyang Mat

The entrance of Go Hyang Mat

The main dining area

The main dining area one Monday evening

As soon as we sat down, the waitress pointed to the extensive €30 menu for two (€15 each) and then to the foodie odyssey and mini grill on neighbouring tables. It looked great, by the way, but since the two of us don’t eat meat and had given our carnivorous amigos a night off from the no-frills adventures, we went à la carteordering some veggie dishes and adapting a couple of others without problem.

THE FOOD

An appetiser of pickled cucumbers and another of fried baby eels arrived. We thought the eels were noodles until we spotted their tiny eyes…

Tiny dried, fried fish entree

The eely entrée and traditional steel chopsticks

The (vegan) seaweed salad was vibrant and crunchy and, as is so often the case, we realised we’d probably ordered too much. In fact, looking back, I think the waitress did subtly try to warn us.

Seaweed salad

Seaweed salad

Huge chunks of crispy fried tofu are always great, but add a spicy kimchi sauce, a few sliced chilis and dried sesame seeds and, well, this is what you get…

Tofu and kimchi

Tofu and kimchi

The sizzling bibimbap you see below normally comes with beef, but they were happy to make it without and added some extra vegetables in its place. The burnt bits of rice at the bottom were a fun extra, just like the crunchy socarrat in a perfect paella.

An adapted veggie rice bowl

An adapted veggie bibimbap

I’m a devout rice person but my other half loves noodles, so this time – like most times, to be honest – we caved in and ordered both, reassuring ourselves determinedly that we’d be able to finish everything on the table (a challenge, but we did it). The noodles were delicious – even without the prawns that were supposed to come with them…

An adapted veggie noodle dish

An adapted veggie noodle dish

Oh, and there are also several types of meat gyoza…

Gyoza

Gyozas © Almudena Benito

THE SHARING PHILOSOPHY

By the entrance, there’s a cosy nook with a large round table that could easily seat up to 10 diners. And since the philosophy of Korean cuisine is to share your food, I suggest you rally together a group of friends and order as many dishes as will fit on your table – because that way you get to try even more things. And for the vegetarians and vegans among us, Go Hyang Mat is a friend.

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