Baekdu is a place I’ve always wondered about. Located on the wrong side of the Northern Quarter, near to the Shudehill bus station and the big glass car park. It’s a non-descript building with frosted windows so isn’t the most inviting looking place.
However boy and I were very hungry and in pre-gig rush; everywhere was turning us down/didn’t appeal – and in a fit of desperation the boy pulled me in to Baekdu in the vain hope I would actually stop whinging.
What confronted us didn’t actually appeal. The inside of Baekdu is a little dingy and resembles nothing more than a back street caff; with Argos tables, white tiles and laminated menus replete with pictures. Hmmm…
Baekdu was packed with a host of Asians chattering away and excitedly slurping large bowls of Korean specialities. I’d like to say they were Korean but I don’t recognise the language and don’t want to generalise that just because Baekdu is Korean that any Asian people hanging out there are definitely Korean.
The boy chose Korean Beef Stir Fry and I chose Fish Hot Pot. Service was quick and efficient and we were presented with metal chopsticks, cutlery and tap water served in mugs. Very homely! Food swiftly followed and any misgivings I had harboured instantly melted like noodles into hot soup.
My fish stew was still bubbling as it arrived and was chock full of white fish, shell fish and crab stick. What was unusual was that the fish was served on the bone, but this only served to add a lovely deep umami flavour to the soup, which was also liberally spiced (though a little under seasoned).
The boy’s dish of stir fry and noodles was the dish that stole the limelight. Tender strips of thin beef were cooked to perfection – none of this usual Chinese takeaway stewed boot leather (aka Vermilion’s poor attempt). The beef, noodles and greens were lovingly seasoned with a deeply savoury and salty sauce, kicked in to life with hints of spicy chili and aromatic garlic. And for somewhere that serves such good food the portions are also massive. Usually it’s a case of quantity or quality, but Baekdu performs on both equally well.
Baekdu is a great little gem that I’m glad the boy dragged me in to (hear that boy, I’m practically complimenting you!). It’s a little rough around the edges, but that’s what makes it brilliant. The food is great, home cooked Korean food served with no pretension in a buzzy environment. I’ve paid a lot more across the city to eat food half as good as this. Let’s hope that many other people pop in to sample their delights rather than just popping in when they’ve run out of other options.
Price for one fish stew, one stir fry and one beer – £14.75
Food – 7/10
Service – 6/10
Atmosphere – 6/10
Value for money – 9/10
Total – 28/40
Baekdu, 77 Shudehill, Manchester M4 – 0161 834 2227