This is the era of postmodernism. Gone are the days of restrictive categories and set definitions. Why should a café just serve food? And why shouldn’t a hair salon serve a decent lunch?
Welcome to Hurwundeki – a place that can take care of both your hunger and your haircut needs. Located in the railway bridge arches next to Cambridge Heath station, you might be forgiven for thinking they sold tyres rather than Korean cuisine. Even more baffling, despite the industrial store front – blue corrugated metal – the yard is filled with ancient play park toys and eclectic chairs.
The inside, however, exudes a kind of shabby cuteness. Chandeliers dangle from the brick arches above tightly packed tables. There’s a simple open kitchen, which allows you to spy on large tubs of kimchi and other dishes being freshly prepared.
A cursory glance at the menu will tell you that there’s more than classic Korean fare on offer – udon noodles make an appearance and bulgogi beef is to be found holidaying on top of bread! Hurwundeki are proud to have just launched a fusion lunch menu, which includes Korean salads and Koran curries on sourdough bread (a new kind of open sandwich perhaps?). There are both traditional and modern Korean dishes with some surprises thrown into the mix.
I went straight for the classic – the beef bibimbap (£6.50) served with an egg yolk on top. I love this dish in that it is fresh and filling. Hurwundeki’s version did not disappoint and, mixed with the chilli sauce, it was the perfect pick-me-up weekend lunch that I was hoping for.
My lunch partner took a chicken stir-fry on rice – simple but tasty – and we shared some chicken dumplings or mandu (£4.50) on the side.
We were both feeling a little sleepy on a Saturday afternoon but again Hurwundeki had us covered: we happily caffeinated ourselves with a latte and a mocha. For those fancying something a little stronger, you can bring your own wine (or maybe even some soju if you want to keep things Korean).
Finally, if you feel you ought to smarten yourself up, step through the arch and get yourself a haircut in a room decorated with eclectic old objects, looking more like a period set piece than a hair salon.
Hurwundeki – Reasonably priced traditional and fusion Korean dishes with a whole load of quirky charm thrown in.
Where: 98-299 Railway Arches, Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9HA
When: Mon – Fri 8am – 10pm, Sat 9am – 10pm, closed on Sundays.