Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Unearthing local gems

Shirlee Posner introduces essence readers to Bada Tapas where small plates of expertly created Korean fusion food are dispatched in style in a quiet side street in the heart of Godalming. For those who love Asian flavours, sharing plates and an altogether different dining style, then Bada Tapas in Godalming will appeal. Many of the dishes have a healthy vibe and presentation is delightful.

Having lived in Asia for many years, I grieved the lack of pan Asian dining when I returned home in 2005. I love street food, but sometimes require more than a small red plastic stool, floodlights and a melamine table to make a meal more of an occasion.

Intrigued by the idea of a tapas bar based around Korean cuisine, I was not quite sure of the concept, but from the minute we stepped in we were taken with the décor, layout, drinks menu and service at Bada Tapas. Water arrived immediately (infused with cucumber, lemon and fresh mint). The owner is Jihyun Kim: she created the concept and holds it together.

Jihyun came to the UK in 2005 to learn English and met her husband Michal who was working with a wholesale fish company distributing to establishments outside London and particularly in Surrey. When the Godalming fish shop (one of his wholesale customers) came up for sale, Michal took it on. One of this shops’ customers was a Spanish tapas bar in Queen Street which was looking a new owner and so Bada was born.

With no family history in hospitality, Jihyun and her husband decided to stick with the restaurant’s current theme of small plates, but give it an Asian fusion twist. They named the business Bada, the Korean word for sea.

The main menu is supported by seasonal blackboard specials which are usually a fish, meat and vegetarian dish. The main menu is split into three sections with snack items appearing first. From more recognisable edamame beans (young green soybeans) steamed and served with a sprinkle of sea salt (£4) to lotus root crisps (£4.50) or a plate of fresh rock oysters at £6 for 12.
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The sharing plates’ menu is split into three sections: fish, meat and poultry and vegetarian. For me, the fish is the reason to visit. The freshest organic Scottish salmon marinated in teriyaki sauce is cooked to perfection and served with some al dente sugar snap peas for £9, and from the specials’ board, a fillet of seabass on a green curry sauce is £10.
Going back to the main menu, the pan-fried scallops with a signature sauce at £10 are not to be missed, served plump, tender and perfectly seasoned. Or try the bulgogi, a classic Korean dish of marinated beef in soy with carrots and mushrooms, served in a lettuce leaf to pick up and eat for £8.50. From the vegetarian side of the menu, choose kimchi pancake or vegetable dumplings, both £7.50, among a mouthwatering range of meat-free options.

For accompaniments, add sticky rice (£4) or sweet potato fries (£5.50), For fillers, try soy cooked quail’s eggs (£5), kimchi (£4) or summer rolls (£7), perfect if avoiding carbohydrates. Accompanied by younger people? Bada Tapas has chicken katsu on the menu too at £7.

For drinks, there are recognisable wines alongside Korean classics (rice wines and sake), and a really interesting cocktail list with wasabi cucumber martini or a chilli margarita.
There’s a small dessert menu worth perusal. The berry crème brûlée is perfect. Creamy, but not oversweet and topped with a layer of fruit purée. Other puddings include adzuki bean (red bean) chocolate brownies served with dark chocolate and dates. Very trendy ingredients, plus it is gluten free. Both desserts cost £6.50. Fresh mint tea or barista coffees are also on offer to finish.

Everything at Bada Tapas is prepared freshly from scratch and cooked to order, apart from dishes like the slow cooked pork (delicious). This is a rare treat in a climate where high street chains dominate the casual dining scene.

Go and support this feisty independent for its innovative menu and focus on serving superbly prepared fresh food.
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The line-up this year includes Bake With Jack, whose no-nonsense, fun presenting style has been showcased on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, and Crumbs Brewing, which ferments its beer using leftover sour dough bread from brilliant craft and sour dough bakery Chalk Hills (which started its life at Priory Farm).

Highly recommended is newcomer to the event Mandira of Mandira’s Kitchen whose ‘Curry in a Hurry’ session is full of essential tips and her presenting style just delightful. Surrey-based chef (and former essence columnist) Laura Scott of How to Cook Good Food will be hosting a session on making vegan sushi.

However, what really makes me wish I wasn’t away for the event is the farm to fork talk with Beckie and Christian from The Salt Box and Ian from Dorking’s Hill House Farm. They specialise in creative, open-fire cooking and run informative workshops for children and adults to inspire and connect with the outdoors.

The Festival promises to be a perfect way to support local businesses with a donation from ticket sales to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Tracy wants to spread LFB’s geographical reach and carry on working with small food businesses to help them with their marketing. As for Brexit, Tracy’s view is that this could be a really good opportunity for small producers to gain more support from local consumers. Currently a weak pound means imports are costing more, and if movement of goods is a problem, then animal feed and kit may be difficult to source so this could be disruptive. But despite this unknown, the future looks bright for Local Food Britain.
essence info
Bada Tapas
10 Queen Street, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1BD
01483 527526

Shirlee Posner is a food writer and blogger at and provides social media management, web copywriting and food photography.