Gaon - Former Ran - Chelsea, London
Gaon is an aesthetically-pleasing, small Korean restaurant located in the former Coquine on the Old Brompton Road. Its owner and staff come from the former Ran, in Soho. Unlike Ran, Gaon is clearly exclusively pandering to an upmarket clientele. Nothing wrong with that. However, Gaon clearly falls flat in terms of value, food and service. The former Ran was much preferable.
The presentation of the food in Ran is very elegant, and plates are brought out tapas style. However, the portions of the food are minuscule. A paejon order comes out as three pieces of paejon, each slightly bigger than a two-pound coin. The scallops were clearly of a high quality, but lacked flavor. The fried chicken (6 tiny pieces) came out piping out, but were seasoned too heavily - an offsetting glaze would have been helpful. The spinach and kimchee starters were good.
We ordered a portion of kalbi and bulgogi. The bulgogi was standard, nothing special. The kalbi was well-executed but certain pieces were lukewarm whilst other pieces were hot. The portions were tiny - consistent with the rest of the dinner.
The prices for this restaurant are high to moderate but the value is not there.
Finally, the service was exceptionally slow but polite. One of the waiters appeared to get into a screaming match with the manager or owner that we could overhear upstairs.
I had high expectations for Gaon, but clearly their emphasis is on presenting an upscale appearance but not on food and service.
Found a place around Victoria that is quite authentic and affordable. It's called Lime Orange on Vauxhall Bridge Road. Really, unassuming but clean place. Definitely Koreans in there and they do pander to non-Koreans as well (ie they offer sushi), but the dishes I tried, were very, very good.