After opening their flagship restaurant at Holborn in 2011, KIMCHEE realised there was a demand for Korean food on the go. This week sees KIMCHEE open their second ‘To Go’ branch on New Oxford Street and we popped over to the original Strand branch to get ourselves some KIMCHEE To Go! (Badumtsk)
KIMCHEE To Go – Strand
388 Strand, London, WC2R 0LT
Daily 8am – 10pm
T: 020 7240 4515
KIMCHEE To Go – New Oxford Street
106 New Oxford St, London, WC1A 1HB
KIMCHEE has kept it classy bringing the infamously elegant décor of their Holborn restaurant into their To Go chains. The feel and atmosphere is very natural and chic with wooden furnishings and clean lines; possibly the most classy and fancy fast food chain out there. The food is all very neatly arranged in the refrigerators with descriptions and assistants on hand to help when you look a little lost. The packaging looks very impressive and a lot of attention has clearly been paid into the design and functionality. The kimbab is pre-made with a nice selection to choose from with a list of ingredients on display. We picked a bibimbap, a dosirak and a kimbab. With the bibimbap, you pick your namul (topping) and then at the counter they add rice for you at the bottom layer of your container with a choice of plain or mixed grain rice. The dosirak was from the heated section all ready to take away and eat.
We love kimbap and were excited to hear that KIMCHEE would be making kimbap that you could pick off the shelves. It could have been because we went straight after work and 5pm can be a bit of a odd time to eat, but we were a little disappointed. The kimbap was very cold and had clearly been in the refrigerator for a long time. The kimbap rolls were big and jam packed with ingredients, but unfortunately for us, the rice was cold and hard and ruined the other flavours of the kimbap. It just didn’t match up to Seoul Bakery’s freshly made kimbap.
We loved the packaging of KIMCHEE, it looks smart and check out the funky ingenious double layer of the bibimbap. But when it actually came to eating, things got a bit annoying, the warm sticky rice did not go well with the cardboard packaging and created a bit of a mess everywhere. The heat from the rice had also softened the cardboard a bit which meant mixing up the bibimbap was a long and tedious task as you had to be extra careful. Now we know why metal and stone bowls are normally used. The cardboard also started peeling off with the rice in the dosirak which wasn’t a very appetising addition to our meal. But the food and portions were epic. The bulgogi beef in both dishes were absolutely delicious. The dosirak came with kimchi, mandu, egg roll and sautéed potatoes, a very nice box set. The bibimbap was MASSIVE with plenty of namul, we couldn’t finish it even though we really really wanted to.
KIMCHEE is the brainchild of the man who created Wasabi, a cheap and cheerful lunchtime favourite known for it’s inexpensive sushi. For 2 people at KIMCHEE it came up to over £20 for a meal, a drink each and a shared kimbap as a side, which we felt was a bit on the expensive side for fast food. For that price we could have dined in at a nice restaurant with proper crockery and cutlery and freshly made kimbap. But the MASSIVE portions do make up for it and if you’re short of time, the convenience of KIMCHEE helps.
Overall the meals at KIMCHEE were delicious and it was possibly one of our more posh fast food experiences. The atmosphere and décor of the Strand branch was very refreshing and chilled out and the staff were very friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.
KIMCHEE definitely has a very cool concept and has made Korean food easier and more accessible to everyone. This is no doubt a brilliant starting point for all those wanting to be introduced to Korean food from the delicious basics.
And check out this fancy flow chart to help you decide what to eat!