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Aug 28, 2011 08:38 AM

Finsbury Park: Dotori Korean & Happening Bagel (Beigel) Bakery [London]

Felt like exploring London, and decided to base my adventure around where I could get Korean food without it being New Malden (because Sorabol is closed Sundays) or Soho (because Central London is ghastly on the weekends).

I ended up going to Finsbury Park, and ate a a good little Korean / Japanese cafe. Usually I would avoid such a hybrid restaurant, but the place got a good review in Timeout so thought, how bad could it be? As it turns out, it was really quite nice. We shared a bibimbap w/raw beef, and a spicy beef vegetable soup -- the bibimbap was amongst the best I've had in London, and the soup was quite good, if a little lacking in depth of flavour. Great service and pretty cheap -- 2 mains, kimchi and 2 non-alcoholic drinks was £19.

Next, popped into a Happening Bagel Bake across the road and have found what are probably my favorite bagels in London. An Israeli dude owns the place, and apparently learned how to bake bagels in New York. They are a biiiiiit doughy, but according to some blog I read, the owner deliberately bakes them a bit soft because the locals prefer them to the type of chewier NYC bagel he'd like to produce.

All in all, a nice way to avoid Carnival, and a much closer alternative to Golders Green where I'd usually go for bagels.

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  1. Good bagels! I'm just wondering if maybe they're just a bit different because of the water here, aside from how the owner bakes them. The water, supposedly, has a great effect on the finished product. I think there's water galore in Manhattan today... just incredible to see what went on there.

    5 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      I've heard this water argument a few times and I am not convinced -- not disputing that hard/soft water affects baking but you can certainly make a great product with any water. A bagel place in Boston (F'nagle a Bagel) shipped water down to see if their product was better w/NYC water, and apparently there wasnt a big diff according to their test panel. My brother-in-law's father is a water engineer and we spoke about this -- he said there is so much variance in a cities water supply throughout the year depending on a multitude of factors (temp, rain, snow, etc) that you couldn't really say a city has a certain type of water (I mean, London has hard water, but I am sure depending on the area and time of year this varies).

      That said, some bagel baker in Florida apparently ships down water for their bagels and they're supposed to be pretty good so who knows?

      Yah its terrible in NYC -- a friend posted a pic of their basement and there is about 8 inches of water. My fiancee is from RI and I am hoping Irene passes by her parents place!

      On a side note, I LOVE BAGELS SO MUCH!

      1. re: zuriga1

        I'd be willing to bet that the difference actually has more to do with the types of wheat/flour available in different countries. North American wheat is "stronger", or has more protein (gluten), than European varieties. Higher protein gives bread a stronger structure. This is why cakes and pastries are made from softer, or lower-protein, flour. Mineral content in water may play a role in how a bread mixes and rises, but I think it's the flour itself that ranges the most from one country to another.

        1. re: gemuse

          You might be quite right about that.

          I often laugh that Allinson here makes Strong White and VERY Strong White. It took me awhile living here to get used to all the varieties of flour.. self-rising, plain etc. I'm not sure how Kamut flour qualifies in the order of flours, but it sure makes the bread we bake taste better for some reason.

          1. re: zuriga1

            Having said that, I'm sure the quality of the water has something to do with the regional differences, like NY-FL. But there is so much that goes into how a dough turns out-- how much kneading, how much rising/proofing, what type of yeast, ambient temperatures, baking temperatures... I think you could have the exact same ingredients, and different methods could yield a very different bread.

            1. re: gemuse

              You are so right. My bread machine taught me all about same ingredients but different results!

      2. Friends of our used to live round the corner from that bakery and I've walked past it many times. They're living in Grand Cayman at the moment, but we have other friends in Finsbury Park - must give the bagels a go next time I'm in the 'hood.

        1. Could you maybe give directions to the bagel shop... just in case I have a day with nothing to do.

          3 Replies
          1. re: zuriga1

            Corner of Blackstock and Seven Sisters roads. Take the Station Place exit out of Finsbury Park Station, walk down past the bowling alley and the pub, turn the corner to the left and cross the street.


            1. re: ultimatepotato

              Thanks -- I wouldn't have remembered where it was exactly!

              It's got a big blue sign that you can see quite easily once you're in the vicinity.

            2. As an NYC resident who lived in London for several years, I have very fond memories of Happening Beigel. They were by far the best bagels I found in the UK (and the challah is decent, too). I almost picked up a couple for old time's sake on my last visit, but I was already drowning in baked goods from Dunn's.

              4 Replies
                1. re: brokentelephone

                  Dunn's is a bakery in Crouch End, right on CE Broadway. The bread is nothing special, but I am willing to praise their donuts.

                  1. re: Gordito

                    Well, you're a harsher critic than I am. I'm quite fond of the Dunnary loaf and the Malt & Seed loaf, as well as the rock cakes, jam tarts, bakewells and scones. It's not a special destination by any means, but I was very happy to have it a short walk away when I lived in the area.

                    1. re: gort

                      Agree with being fond of the Dunnary loaf. I would add their Chelse Buns to that list. Their lemon cake is not bad either.

              1. I got my bagels today. I haven't eaten one yet, but I can tell they will taste good and better than most anything else I've tried in the London area. Just walking into the Happening Bagel Bake and smelling the aroma made me feel like I was back in an American bakery, particularly one in NYC.

                4 Replies
                1. re: zuriga1

                  I had a frozen one for breakfast and it was greeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

                  1. re: brokentelephone

                    I'm being very selfish. A cousin is coming to stay with us for 2 nights tomorrow. I bought all these bagels in the freezer for moi! He can eat his back in Manhattan where he lives.. any time. I wanted to say hello to the bagel guy, but he looked so busy that I didn't bother him. I still laugh that bagels are so popular now all over the world.

                      1. re: gort

                        I think these bagels are pretty good and I made another trip to buy more. It's a long time since I had a proper Manhattan bagel, but I think those are still, in general, larger and more tasty, . Beggars can not be choosers. I especially like the sesame bagels - not too fond of the onion. I haven't seen any pumpernickel bagels at Happening, but the place smells so good and familiar. :-)

                        The Lidl across the street is one of the smallest of that chain I've ever seen!