British food is often a divisive topic, with many quick to criticize its lack of flavor, creativity and a certain oomph. If you find yourself nodding along to this sentiment, the food at Nosh, an all-day brunch restaurant in Gwanak-gu, southwestern Seoul, might just change your mind.
Located on a quiet street near Sindaebang Station, the small restaurant, which is decked out in all things British, complete with photos of Oasis and the late Queen, was overflowing with people on a Friday morning. The quaint atmosphere and the shelves, stacked to the brim with HP Sauce and Fuller’s London Pride, transport diners to the streets of the Big Smoke. But the authenticity of the place doesn't stop at the decor. The food is the true star of the show.
Serving traditional British treats from gourmet cheese toasties, homemade chutney and even a full English breakfast with British sausages and perfectly baked sourdough bread, Nosh is a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience a bit of Britain in Seoul.
The food is all cooked to perfection in an open-style kitchen at the hands of Lee Da-ye, Nosh's owner and chef. Lee, who lived in the UK for three years, is passionate about British flavors, and she pours this passion into every dish she creates.
“I wanted to destroy the stereotypes surrounding British food,” Lee said in an interview with The Korea Herald. “I was sick of hearing, ‘Was the food really as bad as they say?’ … My answer is always, ‘No,’” she laughed, “because the food is actually good. … The UK has more of a food culture than people realize and they shouldn’t judge it before they try it.”
Lee, who has worked in the food industry for over 10 years, said she wanted to “bring British food and brunch culture to Korea.” Noting that she misses sausage rolls, a good old English roast dinner and apple crumble the most, Lee has recreated a number of her favorites on Nosh’s menu.
The highlight is the Nosh Breakfast, which includes two British sausages, fried mushrooms, a grilled tomato, two fried eggs, bacon, baked beans and two slices of soft, chewy sourdough bread. The breakfast hits every note and anyone who eats it will come away feeling truly satisfied. Nosh also has a vegetarian breakfast option, which substitutes the sausages and bacon with creamy avocado and grilled halloumi.
Nosh’s toasties, which range from a basic cheese toastie to gourmet options like their truffle mushroom or hot salami toastie, are also a must-try. The hot salami toastie, in particular, was the perfect balance of rich, savory and spicy. With a blend of four different cheeses and topped with salami and jalapenos, the sandwich is hearty and moreish, and pairs magnificently with Nosh’s homemade tomato chutney and salad -- the ultimate brunch bite.
“We only use proper cheese for our toasties -- British mature cheddar, mild red cheddar, Gouda and mozzarella,” said Lee. Indeed, there was not a hint of plastic cheese in sight.
With a number of scrumptious options to choose from, Nosh often has specials available, including a hearty bowl of bangers and mash with proper British gravy.
Nosh’s down-to-earth menu, which is simple but comprehensive, ticks all the boxes, and nothing is too salty or too sweet. You can enjoy the food along with their selection of Bean Brother’s coffees and freshly squeezed juices. Or, if you feel like a boozy brunch, you can choose from Nosh’s range of alcoholic options and sip on some pink G&T, beer or mulled wine.
If you are not in the mood for savory and would prefer something sweet, Nosh offers two kinds of French toast -- maple bacon and apple crumble. The apple crumble French toast was perfectly delicate and treacly, combining the subtle flavors of cinnamon with gently poached apples and vanilla ice cream. It is a treat not to be missed.
When asked about the reaction to her food, Lee said that “the reviews from Koreans and foreigners alike have been very positive,” noting that her Korean patrons were especially surprised to discover that “British food actually tastes good.”
“Everything on our menu is homemade and authentically sourced,” Lee noted, adding that they get their sourdough bread from a specialist bakery and their sausages from a butcher who learned how to make British style sausages in the UK. “We only use the best ingredients,” Lee added, proudly beaming as she declared Nosh to serve the “best bread and sausages” in town.
Nosh is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and until 6 p.m. on weekends. The restaurant does not accept reservations.