Kimchee. For me it’s been one of those restaurants you pass so many times, always telling yourself that you need to go try it out, yet every time you pass you seem to be on your way somewhere else.
Until your friend said she went and it was amazing, then obviously you have to see what the fuss is about.
Out for our couples’ night (Lucy and I with the BFs), the evening didn’t exactly start as planned – with the bookings system not working, Lucy having no notification call or email that bookings weren’t being honoured, and then the bar downstairs trying to charge table service for drinks I ordered at the bar – but Kimchee soon redeemed themselves.
On the end of a long sharing table, split with the coolest of lamps, and very much close to the open kitchen, we had a fab view of the open plan restaurant.
With dark decor and woods, low hanging lamps with more cool light shades and huge long sharing tables, it radiated the feel of its Korean influences, but in a more contemporary style.
The menu offered something for us all, with a variety of traditional Korean dishes, plenty of vegetarian options for Lucy’s BF, and lots of meaty grilled options for the one fussy about vegetables …*cough* Alex *cough*.
With Lucy raving about the bibimbap (apparently the best she’s ever had), I obviously couldn’t resist, along with two traditional sides Lucy mentioned were a must – Kimchee which I’d never had before, and Kim, thin layers of salted seasoned crispy seaweed.
Lucy had the bibimbap too, a choice of raw beef, marinated beef, marinated chicken, tofu, eel or seafood, served in a sizzling hot stone pot with a mixture of sticky rice, vegetables, egg and red chilli paste. Both opting for tofu, which was lightly coated and fried, it was a fantastic combination of flavours and textures, the tofu itself almost slightly tender with a texture which reminded me of chicken nuggets (strange connection I know but I am a meat eater).
The chilli sauce, added an extra kick of spice and delicious depth, so being a spice fanatic, I obviously poured the whole pot on.
The Kimchee was a new experience. Layers of pickled Chinese cabbage with a garlic and chilli kick, presented neatly in a dome shape, it was really tasty! I enjoyed adding a strip now and again to my bibimbap.
The crispy seaweed, the other side Lucy and I ordered, was served in thin delicate sheets which were salty and melted on your tongue.
All tucking in, it made a great appetiser, and accompaniment to the the beer (we were all drinking Asahi). I do love a beer and some salty snacks!
Alex went for the Beef Bulgogi, thinly sliced strips of beef, marinated in a rich blend of ginger, Korean dark soy and garlic. I had to have a taste, as I always do, and must say it was delicious.
Along with a side dish of Bap, which is otherwise known to the rest of us as sticky rice, it was a great meal choice.
The vegetarian amongst us, also chose the tofu bibimbap but with a portion of the Cheese Dduk Bok Gi to start – Rice and fish cakes with vegetables simmered in a sizzling spicy sauce, and served with grated mozzarella.
The rice and fish cakes had an almost rubbery texture, similar to that of gnocchi, and the rich tomato based sauce was delicious with a slight kick – not that spicy to us heat lovers though.
With the attack of the chopsticks over – I sometimes feel like it’s a game whereby I deserve my food so much more if I get it to my mouth, especially with rice dishes – all plates cleared, and another half pint down, we settled up. At under £20 each for two drinks, starters, mains and service, it’s in the cheap to mid-range for a two-course meal in London.
Gawping at the little waterfall on the way out, which I didn’t spot on the way in as we were too busy sorting out our booking, I realised once again how gorgeous Kimchee was inside – a cute little Korean haven in the middle of Holborn.
Where’s your fave place for Korean food? Have you tried Kimchee?