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Baekdu review

Jonathan Schofield pays a visit to a new Korean restaurant

Written by . Published on January 6th 2011.

Baekdu review

I was guiding the Confidential ghost tours round the Northern Quarter on Saturday. Three times we passed along Shude Hill and three times members of the different groups asked as we passed new place Baekdu: “Have you reviewed this Korean restaurant yet?”

Baekdu fits into the Northern Quarter pantheon of great cheap eats along with This 'n' That Cafe, Hunters, The Koffee Pot and diverse others. It’s not a special occasion place in any way.

We hadn’t but we like to keep on top of things, so come Monday I was off to luncheon.

Baekdu is housed in one of my favourite Northern Quarter buildings, a branch of the former Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank from 1904 in glorious Arts and Crafts style by Jesse Horsfall. Rosso Restaurant occupies the old headquarters of the same bank on Spring Gardens/King Street, maybe they should partner up.

The first sensation I got as I entered Baekdu was a smell of meat: the one you used to get in traditional butchers, not in the hyper-sanitised supermarkets of today. This seemed to emanate from the freezer cabinet placed right next to the main door, a freezer cabinet filled with meat. It wasn't the best intro.

Either Baekdu is being upfront and honest with its food storage or it’s being naive. Positioning the freezer here is outside the norms of Western convention where we remove the diner as far as possible from the physical reality of dead flesh, only presenting it back when it’s been re-packaged by the chef.

Indeed Baekdu needs to work on the decor. It’s a very empty restaurant, just tables and chairs, a couple of vases of flowers, a big warning sign about under-age drinking and that freezer cabinet. It looks like an undertakers.

The staff were all smiles though, which made up for the bareness a little.

Ginger fire wine

I waited for my food with some Bek se ju (£9), a 13 per cent white wine with ginger that translated as, ‘drink this and you’ll live to a hundred’. The wine tasted like some sort of cordial that you’ve forgotten to water down and drunk neat. The ginger lit a bonfire in the belly in less than two seconds. On the label it said ‘brewed with unique method and valuable 12 herbs’. Just the way I like it.

The four page menu showed off with a £20 sharing hotpot of swimming crab, cod, squid, green shell mussels, prawn, radish, leek, tofu and small octopus. This encouraged me in a fishy way but will have to be reserved for another occasion when I’m not on my Jack Jones. I ordered a potato pancake (£4.50) to start, and then the squid dish, Ojingeo-Bokkeum (£6), with rice.

Potato Pancakebr />

The pancake was a curious thing, the like of which I’ve never tasted before. It was made by mincing up the spuds and frying them with carrots, spring onions and so on and then frying them in something lardy. The result was a bit like a Spanish omelette without the egg and taken with soy sauce it’s very good.

The fried squid with veg and a strong, sweetish sauce came with perfectly done sticky boiled rice (£1.50). The food conformed to the Korean type of being boldly flavoured and hearty. It followed the oriental rule of five flavours: salt, sweet, sour, hot, bitter. It was unsophisticated but satisfying.

More decoration please, or fill it with peopleSpicy Squid and Sticky Rice

The presentation of all these dishes was excellent.

Two tables along there were a couple of young men. I eavesdropped. One was Manchester Chinese, the other a Korean immigrant, they were chatting cannily about the food. I asked them what they were eating, explaining that I was reviewing the place. One was having a rice dish of flying fish roe and veg in an earthen bowl, the other, the Korean beef ribs.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said the Manchester Chinese lad. “There’s good heat and I like the combination of roe and the vegetables. It’s good cooking.” He paused before concluding, “Maybe they should lower the prices by a pound though and get more people in.”

Meat storage in the dining room

He’s perhaps right. Two month old Baekdu fits into the Northern Quarter pantheon of cheap eats along with This’n’That Cafe, Hunters, The Koffee Pot and sundry others. It’s not a special occasion place in any way.

It also might need time to bed in. The owner, who says he specialises in South Korean food, claims he has lots of loyal customers who followed him from smaller premises in Burnage. He also says his audience is mainly Oriental as he doesn’t like to compromise the integrity of the cooking. Good for him.

Talk to me

But Baekdu was very quiet when I visited, he needs more of his loyal customers. I hope he finds the relocation was a wise Korea move.

I feel that may be the worst joke we’ve ever made on this website but I blame the ginger wine’s valuable 12 herbs, I took some home, drank a bottle and wrote this review. It’s gone straight to my head and my belly’s still on fire – in a good way.

Breakdown:7/10 food
3/5 service
2/5 ambience
77 Shude Hill
0161 834 2227

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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17 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AlfonzJune 22nd 2010.

"He´s perhaps right."
Who?? the Chinese guy the Korean guy?? - & what did he say????

Dirty StopoutJune 22nd 2010.

I live in the Northern Quarter and pass by Baekdu often. Given the location I'm not particularly surprised that it is quiet at lunchtime, but when I have passed by in the evening it has generally been pretty busy.

Btw, Alfonz, it seems to me that the ginger wine may be to blame for the missing paragraphs.

NortherngeezerJune 22nd 2010.

Confuscus he say "man with hole in pocket feel cocky all day".

Round the cornerJune 22nd 2010.

I've been curious about this place too, but wanted a peek at the menu first to get an idea. Bizarrely, they haven't put one in the glass menu display by the entrance. If they made it a little more enticing to come in (menu, and maybe a friendly sandwich board outside etc.) they'd get more first time customers methinks.

Leigh ScottJune 22nd 2010.

It looks cold and un-interesting to me.

It takes me back to the days of the school canteen.I can see jam and cornflake tart with pink custard in cheap white bowls fitting right in there.

typeJune 22nd 2010.

We ate there last week. Food is very tasty, not the usual fusion shite. Can't believe you didn't try the kimshi! It's good: spicy and plenty of it. Agreed the decor is most uninviting. It doesn't help either that they have frosted glass on the windows just at the level where people on the footpath could look in on happy diners. Not that the interior would give much enticement at the moment. Still, I encourage a visit if it's the grub you care about.

kimchiJune 22nd 2010.

I haven't been to their new premises yet, but if its anything like their Burnage place it will be excellent.

They used to run a supermarket that served food at the back of the shop. I think people started visiting more for the food than the market.

LeeJune 22nd 2010.

I urge everyone to give this place a go. Try the Bibimbap - it is amazing! I have been here about 10 times and have always been impressed by the food. I also find the cost to be very fair. Around £4 for a starter and £ for a mian course. It may be a little quiet but I personally like that. I find it a nice place to enjoy a good meal and unwind. We always choose Baekdu after finishing a long day walking. perfect place to kick back and enjoy some quality food.

Toby13026August 5th 2010.

Baekdu used to be Yechan Foods in Burnage. Same people, same great stuff!

Peter HarrisJanuary 10th 2011.

After passing many times ate there last night. I never mind what the ambience/decor is like if the food is good and that is definitely the case here. We will return! Every dish that came out of the kitchen looked very appetising and I would happily try anything on the extensive menu. Everything is cooked to order - nothing pre-prepared. Definitely a unique cuisine with lovely taste sensations.

Peter HarrisJanuary 10th 2011.

Some good pics of some of the dishes here

FoodLoverMarch 14th 2011.

Went to Baekdu this weekend after it was recommended but was fully disappointed. The place had pleasant decor and spacious settings but lacks atmosphere. The food looks interesting on the menu but when it arrived it was covered in chilly sauce when it doesn't stated on the menu. What was more disappointing was the service. The waitress was rude and unhelpful. Go to Koreana next to house of fraser, its much nicer and service is great.

AnonymousNovember 9th 2011.

Went here last month with my partner for dinner. It was quite busy when we entered.

Positives: Food was nice and cooked to expectations, very filling!

Negatives: It's pretty much an old takeaway but turned make-shift restaurant (but at least you can see the chefs over the counter). There was only 1 waitress so we waited for quite a long time before we could actually order. Food wasn't that cheap so it kinda felt like a little bit of a rip-off.

Overall: I probably wouldn't come here again, not because the food isn't good (it is!) but personally it didn't manage to 'wow' me.

Noel ManzanoJuly 17th 2012.

Love this place :)

Mingda WangAugust 12th 2012.

Really do not understand all the negative comments. As someone who is from that part of the world, I think Baekdu serves superb Korean food, best in Manchester in fact, the service is very good and the atmosphere very relaxing indeed. I take my family there every week. Go and try for yourself!

errrleeSeptember 26th 2012.

I personally prefer Koreana because their prices are very similar but Koreana gives me a proper restaurant feeling wheras Baekdu is more of a canteen kind of thing.

Koreana also does student discount when you order from the a la carte, so it does work out to be cheaper than Baekdu.

As for food, I also prefer Koreana. Baekdu's food have more MSG.

and i would definitely avoid Ban Di Bul.....................

A lot of my friends always compare Koreana with Baekdu, so i guess........ they should be the best Korean restaurants in Manchester so far.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 30th 2012.

what a stupid comment is this about,,,

i dont believe Koreana donset use MSG idiot,

I have tried two times in Koreana, over ten times in Beakdu, i still prefer Beakdu and Bandibul, seoul kimchi,, only three of them live up the real taste of korean food,,,
asking for student discount? y dont you asking for free food as i'm a same student in manchester Uni, but i still prefer better quality of the food with good taste, dosent matter how expansive the food is,,

dont tell me you are family of Koreana,,, try to help them with stupid way, you will bring ppl to wrong place, dam,,, end of too much complains from customer,,,

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