Stacey Black dives into a steaming bowl of noodles at Dangun
The area around St Nicholas Street in Bristol’s city centre is quickly becoming a haven for Asian food enthusiasts. Just around the corner from Tuk Tuck and Pho sits Dangun, a Thai and Korean restaurant. Focusing on dishes of varying sizes that are packed with big flavours, Dangun has been feeding hungry diners with a range of tacos, dumplings and traditional bulgogi since taking over the premises from Bagel Boy in 2018.
A friend and I visited on a balmy midweek evening, and found the place already close to full, despite the reasonably early dinner hour. The simple space is sparsely decorated with functional tables and steel chairs, and the addition of a few bright murals of tigers and Korean Taoist symbols bring a splash of colour.
We took our place at a table right in the middle of the U-shaped dining space and checked over the freshly printed paper menu. There is no table service here, so we ordered at the counter and were encouraged to help ourselves to a beer each from the fridge to the side. There’s nothing nicer than a cold bottle of something interesting at the end of a long day, and my Asahi certainly did the trick. Beers in hand, my friend and I spent a few minutes picking out a selection of plates to share, and to have as our main. My friend gleefully told me she’d been salivating over the online menu all day, and I admitted that my tummy had been grumbling since 11am in anticipation.
Small dishes are a bargain at £2 each, and with items such as edamame beans, Asian coleslaw, and that good old staple, kimchi, you’d be hard-pressed to find better value for money. But today, the tacos were too tempting. Three tacos are recommended as a main, and my friend chose the roasted squash, bulgogi beef and prawns in oyster sauce. Arriving in a concertina-shaped serving dish, these were much bigger than expected. The soft corn tortillas (my favourite of all the tortillas!) were jammed with each filling and then topped with lettuce, pickled veggies, homemade kimchi and chipotle mayo. In-between each joyous mouthful, my friend described them as “individual parcels of perfection”. Which is a pretty difficult sentence to say when you have a cheekful of roasted squash. She found it hard to choose her favourite of the three, so she’ll just have to order them all again.
From the selection of sides, the toppoki sounded like too unusual a dish to miss, so we ordered a portion of these as well. Billed as “traditional Korean rice cakes with a spicy gochuchang sauce”, what landed at our table was nothing at all like I had imagined. A pot of what looked like sizeable tubes of chunky pasta smothered in a vibrant red sauce arrived, garnished with sesame seeds and slivers of lemon. This was to die for. Fragrant, and with just the right amount of spice to keep you coming back for more, this could be eaten this as a main in itself. This is also the perfect dish to practise your chopstick skills with, as I did.
In the mood for one big, generous bowl of goodness, I opted for the yellow curry noodles as my main dish. This arrived as a steaming cauldron of noodles swirling around in a bright yellow broth, with a mountain of rainbow-coloured vegetables in the centre. Sat atop these were a decent amount of chunky mushrooms and tender tofu, topped with coriander, red chillies and crispy onions. I had a feeling this would get me out of my midweek slump, and I wasn’t wrong. There are fewer more satisfying things to do than slurp up a mass of noodles, and while the curry was slightly thinner than I usually like, it was still utterly delicious.
The perfect mix of sweetness, heat and umami flavours from the blend of curry spices, it was perfectly paired with the crunchy peppers, crispy onions and tart twist of lime. I know some people find coriander to be soapy and unappetising, but I’m not one of these people and was delighted to find it in abundance tucked in-between my vegetables.
Looking for a bit of crunch to accompany my curry, I ordered a side of Korean fried cauliflower. Little orange nuggets of the thickest and crispiest batter I’ve ever eaten encased solid chunks of cauliflower, and were drizzled in creamy sriracha mayo, spring onions and sharp pickles. I’d happily devour a portion of these little treasures every day of my life if the after-effects weren’t quite so antisocial.
Dangun is one of the newer additions to an already-impressive list of trendy Asian eateries, and I only hope that this corner of the Bristol food scene continues to grow. If you’re looking for a relaxed, cool and unfussy place to eat, where the food is really allowed to shine through, then Dangun is the place to visit.
39–41 St Nicholas Street
0117 336 3301