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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Kimchee - a new hot spot?

Kimchee opened its doors some time last week. Coincidentally it is situtated right next door to where I work. The development of the space has taken some time (over a year), and therefore when the boards were removed from the windows I was very much surprised what was revealed behind them! A whole new, two storey restaurant. Seeing the opening promotion of 50% off all food, naturally a work lunch had to be organised. However, it proved to be not so easy:
A massive line, every lunch time since opening, and every evening!

So, to get to the good stuff, one week later, still taking advantage of the promotion and battling the queue, finally managed to have some lunch.

First impressions:
  • Spacious, stylish interior: big  floor to ceiling windows, calming water features, wooden finishings (light fixtures, long tables/benches) open-style kitchen. A great space
  • Stressed/green staff: but to be expected in such a new place with such scale

We were seated at a long bench table, given the menus and asked if we were in a 'rush' (a nice thought for lunch time customers).

Not being an expert in Korean food, or having the time to enquire from the staff, the menu appeard to be vast with choices. Having ordered effectively three courses, we were told that the dessert may come out first (strange. But at this point understandable as it seemed that they were just trying to churn out the food from the kitchen. Would hope this is not a 'norm)

Dumplings to start, followed by Budae Jjigae (spicy hot pot made from kinchee, tofu, noodles, pork and sausage) and Chap ssak Ddeok (soft chocolate rice cake).

Good presentation on the starter. The dumplings were slightly crisp on the outside, great contrast with the delicate yet textured filling of chicken and vegetables. The dish was well seasoned. 

The  Budae Jjigae, I wasnt so sure about to start:

First of all, I have to point out, that I ordered a side of rice with this dish, which came out even before the starter (again not a suprise given its a new place - but how much 'give' should one get really?) The nice waitress kindly brought the rice to the table, placed it in front of me, and actually opened the little pot in which it came in. Great training of staff for procedures, but a little lack of common sense. I had to close the little pot to ensure the rice would not get cold for the next 20 mins before the main course. 

The broth initially tasted bland, and watery, although i was not sure what to expect. Mixing the contents around I found the noodles very closely resempling 'Maggi'-2 minute noodles (also not commonly found in this dish). There was plenty of Kimchee, but a lack of saussage and pork (which appeared to look a little like spam if you ask me). Also, there was a lack of spring onion, and way too many beans (?). I woldnt say it was a total disaster, as the spicy broth and the kimchee were enjoyable. But i would have preferred a little more substance.

The dessert was divine! Soft and delicate with rich chocolate flavour. A great finish to the meal. 

Overall, I have decided that i would like to return, as there are plenty of dishes on the menu, and they all looked ravishing in front of the other diners from where i was sitting.

The bill, with the discount, came to just over £20 (bare in mind that it was a starter and a main each, one dessert and two pots of tea).Overall, the menu didnt look too expensive, with mains below £10 (without rice)

I would like to see how this restaurant goes after the promotion ends at the end of the week. The space is so large, that i am not sure they would be able to fill it on a regular basis (with two other Korean restaurants in the area). Will people still be flocking in to try it, or are they  just taking advantage of the cheap food and basking in the hype of a new restaurant? We will have to see :)

Marina O'Loughlin (@MarinaMetro) from the Metro said "This comes accross like a Chinese restaurant with a bit of a twist" (2 out of 5 stars). Read her review here

Kimchee  on Urbanspoon

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