Oba Kitchen review: The restaurant in Leeds serving mouth-watering Korean dishes – Jasmine Norden


Korean and Japanese fusion restaurant Oba Kitchen opened in Leeds in September, offering a range of dishes for vegans and meat eaters.

The new restaurant and bar is in the Merrion Centre, where it promises a “Korean cuisine concept” with a Japanese twist that sees the menu stretch from sushi to Bibimbap.

Reviews have been good so far, so I headed over to Oba Kitchen for Leeds live.

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The restaurant has a sleek, modern feel, with high ceilings and large windows that overlook Wade Lane.

It’s not a huge space, but it seemed popular even on a chilly Wednesday night – every table was occupied, leaving the atmosphere calmly buzzing.

We were seated quickly and one of the waitresses came within minutes to take our order.

To start, we decided to take full advantage of Oba Kitchen’s fusion offering and ordered a mix of Korean and Japanese delicacies.

The interior of the Oba kitchen

There is a board listing the specials of the day so we chose a starter there – the Kimchi pork gyozas. We shared these, along with Kang Poong Gi (Korean fried chicken), kimchi spring rolls and soft shell crab sushi rolls.

For drinking, Oba offers a range of brightly colored sweet and sour cocktails as well as the usual wines and beers – I tried the Green Apple Sour cocktail and my friend the Raspberry Coulie.

This all happened quite quickly and we were integrated immediately.

I don’t think I’ve tried Kimchi before and was immediately completely converted – the spring rolls and pork gyozas were wonderfully spicy and crispy and remained my favorite part of the meal. I would highly recommend both of these if you are heading to Oba.

The Korean fried chicken was smothered in a lovely sweet chilli sauce – the perfect counter to its spicy kick.

Our brightly colored cocktails
Our brightly colored cocktails

While the soft shell crab in the sushi was admittedly excellent (and arrived with a small whole crab in the top roll), the sushi was the least impressive of the starters for me. It was lovely, but less exciting than the spicy dishes we had eaten before.

The cocktails were brightly colored in green and pink. Mine was exactly as sour as one would expect a drink called Green Apple Sour to taste, and my friend’s was very sweet.

Glad we tried them, and if you like a fruity cocktail you might like these – but we switched to wine for the rest of the meal.

Our sushi - with a whole soft shell crab sticking out of the top
Our sushi – with a whole soft shell crab sticking out of the top

Once we had finished the starters, we already thought it was possible that we had ordered too much, but nevertheless, we were excited for the main course.

My friend ordered the Chicken Bibimbap, which is a Korean rice bowl with ground chicken, vegetables, sweet chili miso and an egg.

I asked a waitress what she would recommend, and she first asked me if I liked spicy food.

I said I was – and she told me she was a big fan of several Korean specialties.

We had mochi for dessert - great palette cleanser
We had mochi for dessert – great palette cleanser

Eventually, I followed one of his recommendations and opted for an assortment of Korean stir-fried seafood with spicy sauce and rice.

And it was lovely – full of good spicy flavors with well-cooked prawns, calamari and lots of vegetables.

But for me the real star of the main course was the Chicken Bibimbap, which a waiter came to personally mix for my friend.

The spicy sesame oil flavor was wonderful – and the egg and sweet chili miso worked perfectly together. As a bonus, it’s served in a pretty stone bowl on its own wooden stand.

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We were already very full – but ended up sharing Mochi for dessert, which are Japanese rice cakes filled with ice cream. We tried a pistachio and a mango, and it’s a fantastic palette cleanser.

By the time we had gone through all of this, we were almost the last people there.

But overall I would highly recommend Oba Kitchen – I especially liked the spicy Korean dishes and there are also plenty of vegetarian and vegan options for non-meat eaters.

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