Kayabacho: Korean
Rakurakuen (Kayabacho: Korean)
Open 11:30am-2:30pm (LO). Closed weekends.

Ah, the kindness of Korean ajuma (aunties), who have over the years loaned me their floral aprons, cut up my reimen noodles with scissors, or given me extra side dishes (as if I needed fattening up). Two smiling Korean aunts run this hole-in-the-wall basement lunch spot and serve up hearty homestyle cooking with a huge helping of hospitality.

All the Korean staples are here. Tofu Chige stew is loaded with tofu and clams, and the piping-hot Ishiyaki Bibbimbap is a hearty stone bowl full of sesame-oil flavored rice, meat, kimchi and veg. The Kalbi Kupa is a giant bowl of spicy soup loaded with tender chunks of beef, plentiful vegetables, and just the right level of more-ish heat. The Reimen cold noodles pack a serious chili punch and are only recommended for the asbestos-lipped.

Those who know go for the Samgyetan chicken soup. The chicken soup is a savory clear broth packed with half-a-whole-chicken, rice, ginseng and jujube. The chicken is perfectly cooked, succulent and fall-off-the-bone soft. Usually it's eaten with extra salt, but the staff here recommend black pepper and it's really good.

Another favorite for the cognoscenti is the Samgyeopsal stir-fry. Grilled pork-belly is stir-fried with carrots and onions in a sweet-and-spicy chili sauce and garnished with sesame seeds. Anyone who orders it is forced to get a refill of rice to mop up the sauce.

All the lunches come with salad and a couple of side dishes, usually silky tofu and Chijimi pancakes, and sometimes a delicious wakame soup, full of seaweed and pepper. Ridiculously, all these filling and tasty lunch sets come for under 1,000 yen!

Open for lunch only, Monday to Friday.

by Richard Jeffery

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Kayabacho 2-6-9, B1F.

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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended