When wondering around Holborn mid-afternoon, my friend lead me to Kimchee for lunch. This restaurant, run by the same man who is behind the Wasabi chain, has an impressive exterior and looks inviting to passers by.
71 High Holborn -Nearest Tube: Holborn/Chancery Lane
London – Hours: Mon – Sun 12pm – 11pm
WC1V 6EA – Pricing: Average (About £4 side dish, £6-8 main dish)
020 7430 0956 – Vegetarian Options: Yes
Email : email@example.com Menu: kimchee.uk.com/docs/kimchee_web_menu.pdf
Notes: I went at lunch, and it was busy, but there were still places available. In the evenings, I expect there may be a wait to be seated.
As you step into Kimchee, you immediately notice how large it is. It seems especially large when you compare it to the usual Korean restaurant in London, where seating space is very limited. This means the atmosphere is very different too. It’s light and airy, and you can see into the kitchen and watch the chefs cooking. It feels a lot more commercial than the smaller Korean restaurants, though this isn’t a bad thing in this case. The friend I was with (who is Korean) said it reminded her of restaurants and home and that the layout, décor etc seemed very traditional to restaurants in Korea.
If you go, don’t forget to check out the lovely front of the restaurant (see pic to the right). There’s an amazing mini garden with the fantastic wall with hangeul written on it.
We were seated quickly by our waitress who promptly gave us our menus. The whole time we were there, the service was always great and quick, and all the staff had a smile on their faces. I couldn’t help but notice that the place settings were done well too.
In the end my friend and I decided to share some dishes. We ended up choosing Jajang Myeon (thick noodles with pork and vegetables topped with black bean sauce) and Tang Su Yuk (battered pork with sweet and sour dip). We didn’t order drinks but there’s an extensive list which includes Korean beer and soju cocktails!
For the Jajang Myeon, the ingredients and vegetables all tasted very fresh, and the balance between black bean sauce and noodles was perfect. The noodles were nice and thick and had the perfect chewy texture. For chopstick novices like me, you may have a few problems actually getting the noodles into your mouth. Luckily they provide you with a thick napkin to wipe away the evidence of sauce spilling down your face (the shame!). I particularly liked the caramelised tasting vegetables in this, and the little chunks of onion in the sauce were heavenly.
My friend told me Tang Su Yak is a common addition to have with Jajang Myeon. Certainly, they did go very well together! The batter was crispy and the meat was good. The dip was addictive, and I smothered each piece of pork in it. The bowl it came in was in fact made of rice, so just when you think you’ve finished everything and get disappointed that you ate so quickly, there’s still something to left!
I’d really like to come back here again and try out other menu items. Looking around at other tables, I could see several dishes that looked great. The pot dishes looked amazing, the way they were presented instantly made me want to order them next time. Also, items off the barbeque menu looked very appetising. I noticed that the dessert menu had Chap Ssal Deok (chocolate rice cake), which I wanted to try too. I’m a rice cake addict, so always want to eat it whether sweet or savoury.
This is an altogether different dining experience than going to a smaller Korean restaurant around London. It feels more commercial, and maybe people who’d never eaten at a Korean restaurant before may feel more comfortable eating here first rather than one of the smaller Korean restaurants – maybe they would find the menu easier to get their head around and the appearance could make it more accessible to people who could feel a little intimidated when looking through the window of one of the smaller restaurants. For me, I love the experience of eating in one of the cosy, small Korean restaurants, but this was a fun change and there was a fun, vibrant feeling to the whole thing. The food was very good. I was especially impressed with the presentation of everything, it was all so pretty and delicate. There were a lot of choice on the menu, and a good selection of vegetarian friendly dishes. I’ve heard some people say the portion sizes at Kimchee are small, but the Jajang Myeon I was served was easily shared between two, and there was enough each to ensure we were both full by the end.
I give Kimchee……