Review: Kimchee Restaurant

Mimi ON Jul 13, 2011 AT 9:31 am

Kimchee inside

Kimchee inside

by John Gregory Smith

On one of my many cycles round London I noticed a new Korean restaurant, on High Holborn, called Kimchee – after the dish, made from pickled cabbage that is somewhat of a national obsession. I must admit that I don’t know a great deal about Korean food, having only eaten Korean BBQ a few times, so I re-visited the restaurant a few days later to find out more. Inside, the huge space had Wagamama-style shared tables and a long open kitchen. The modern restaurant educated me in all things Korean and completely won me over.

A typical Korean meal consists of lots of little dishes, centred around one main dish and lots of rice. We put ourselves in the hands of our waiter, who ordered us a fantastic selection of small dishes and a few main courses. We started off with the famous kimchee (£2.30), pickled cabbage that had been flavoured with chilli and garlic, which was beautifully hot and sour. To go with this we had tender beef mari (£3.80), which was sweet marinated beef, wrapped in rice paper with crunchy carrots and beansprouts and served with the most delicious peppery mustard and vinegar dipping sauce. Shamefully I drank the leftovers after we had finished, it was too good to waste!

The next part of our feast was a Korean pancake called pa jeon (5.90), a savoury pancake packed full of squid, prawns and spring onions, which was served with a delicious dark soy dipping sauce. Are final small dish was prawn tuigim (£4.90), huge crispy prawn and vegetable tempura, in the lightest of batters, served with a firey hot chilli dipping sauce.

To accompany our small dishes, which by now had taken over the entire table, we had a BBQ’d beef dish called bulgogi (£7.20). The beef, which had been tenderised in a savoury marinate, of fruits, soy sauce, sesame oil and spices, was served in thin strips, with crisp lettuce for wrapping and a wonderfully nutty, salty, soybean paste to douse over the top. Bulgogi had it all: hot and cold, soft and crunchy, sweet and salty, all at once – it was perfect! Our final dish was a hot pot called a budae jjigae (£6.90), which had a dark red, spicy broth, filled with pork, tofu, noodles and of course lots of spicy kimchee.

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