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Wonky Tooth’s eatGOODY review – a jumble sale of flavours and textures

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Featured image: Eloise Billington

This is the first in a new series in which our intrepid gourmand, Wonky Tooth (AKA aAh! journalist Ian Burke) eats their way along the whole length of the Oxford Road Corridor. The only rule, with apologies to Greggs and KFC is: no big chains.

First on the menu is the cult Korean canteen, eatGOODY.

The first potatoes in Britain washed ashore from a Spanish shipwreck near Southport in 1575. First grown as a curious ornamental plant, it took a couple of centuries before anybody thought of making chips from their grubby tubers. Fast-forward another 250 years and eatGOODY have perfected what to do with a spud.

It’s always dark in here. A trio of poplars, branches extended in sun salutation yoga poses, hog most of the rays that would otherwise pierce the barred windows of this casual restaurant (and takeaway). This low-light ambiance adds to the venue’s mystique. Despite opening more than a decade ago, it still feels like you’re stepping into a clandestine operation – one where you procure bibimbap and beef bulgogi by a series of nods and codewords.

This is partly because its doors are only open at lunchtime, Tuesday to Friday. If you arrive between 12:15-12:45, the queues slither back towards the outside world, firstly because of eatGOODY’s deserved popularity, but also because of the unhurried service. However, in a city centre where worthwhile cheap eats are tricky to find, it’s well worth the wait.

Daily specials are around the £6.50 mark and come with a choice of a rice, fried rice, noodles or – the ingredient that lifts eatGOODY into the stratosphere – potato cubes. There shouldn’t be anything special about them (they’re just shallow-fried skin-on carbs) yet you can’t underestimate how they elevate practically everything on the menu, from texture and taste to ease of chopstick manoeuvrability.

The downstairs dining room is a singular experience. Midway between a tiki bar and a divorcees’ lounge, with rolls of bamboo screening the walls while a pair of incongruous picnic tables lie in the centre. Then there’s the slapdash assemblage of accoutrements: chintzy figurines, house plants starved of natural light, and a dusty karaoke machine – a hangover from their discontinued Friday karaoke nights – all soundtracked by jovial K-pop.

The pepper chicken box arrives in a cardboard bowl, with an optional side of kimchi salad (£1.50) adding a sour crunch to what is already a jumble sale of flavours and textures. Most of the dishes rank as high on the healthiness-o-meter as they do for taste, but the fist-sized slabs of chicken on this are unapologetically deep-fried. A mortar of salty chilli paste slathered throughout adds a whisper of heat, with nodules of green pepper providing a subtle juicy balance.

It may not be quite as sensational as their chicken curry box, but after scoffing through almost their entire menu twice over since September, it hardly matters what you order. Just make sure you get the potato cubes.

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Ian Burke

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