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17 reviews of Kimchee in English
Definitely gives the Korean place below Holborn station a run for its money.
Beware the huge queues though for dinner - they snake out the door! But table turnaround is fast, so you'll be in quickly.
They do seem a bit short staffed - takes a bit of time to get your order in and the bill at the end, but once you order, the food arrives quickly.
Comment 2 comments on this review
Jennifer Leostevens, 9 October 2012:
greeting to you.My name is jenifer, It’s my pleasure to write you after
Brandon Collins, 10 October 2012:
I’ll be sure to reply. : ]
I visited Kimchee for lunch today having said about a year ago I’d never go back. I've been a few times before (with the first being its opening day) because I work in the same building and almost every time something has been poor - usually to do with the service.
Today we ordered 2 drinks, 2 starters and 2 mains for 2 people. You'd think that would be pretty easy to keep track of. After finishing all the food and drinks that had arrived we were still waiting on one of the mains. A polite reminder to the server was waved off as if it was all in hand.
Meanwhile, the couple sitting next to us were experiencing similar problems and complained to the manager who used the excuse of computer problems and promised their food would arrive soon. Again we asked on our meal so the server went to investigate. He came back to serve somebody else without even acknowledging us until I asked and was told that the order was never put through - it didn't seem he'd done much to rectify the situation either so we said we'll take the bill and leave it. 10 minutes, no bill. So we got up to see the manager who was showing more interest in the couple beside us with similar issues and a new couple behind us having problems.
We explained we wanted to leave and about our experience to which he had no sympathy and dismissed us with a stereotyped Gallic nonchalance. He said in recognition of our poor experience he would take the service charge off. Oh great, thanks. If I wavered before, I will not again. I will never go back to Kimchee.
Oh, did I mention that the mains are all terrible (although the starters are very good).
It's really, really good.
I'll readily confess that I didn't really notice the names of all the dishes and drinks that were flying around the table, but that's possibly no bad thing and you could have quite an interesting evening from just randomly pointing and ordering from the selection available in this consciously Korean place. I know we had the eponymous fermented cabbage speciality, Kimchee, which was simultaneously weird and compelling, and made for an excellent component to more familiar menu options such as fried chicken bits, and a sort of pancake/omelette thing with seafood mixed through it. My personal star tip is for the steak tartare, which was nothing short of stunning and not at all what I expected.
We were lucky enough to pair each group of plates with a Korean drink - such as a fermented rice milk drink and a plum-based spirit. Quite a departure from what the Western palate's familiar with, and though I'd hesitate to order any of them alone they too provided a fascinating contrast & counterpoint to the cuisine.
Based on the fact Kimchee doesn't take reservations (although the queue turnover is quite rapid) it'd probably be a handy and different option for small groups with a good sharing mentality. The bench-style seating (think Wagamama) probably rules it out for an intimate dinner for 2, but it's keenly priced options make it handily informal. The owners have gone to incredible attention to detail with the decor, plates and glassware, and this all adds to give the place a busy informality without falling into "cheap, cheerful & chaotic".
As well as being my first run at Korean food, this was also my first VIQ event - two serves of massive luck in one!
Based purely on personal preference I found the cocktails and alcoholic drinks to be a lot sweeter than I'd customarily drink, but am very eager to head back and explore some of the main dishes: from what we got to taste, it's easily worth a 20 minute queue.
The first impressions were good if unusual for a Korean restaurant - the main restaurant has a Wagamama-style layout with an open kitchen and long bench-style seating. After a few minutes in the waiting area we were greeted by Adam, the restaurant manager, and led downstairs to the new dining area. The room had a much more intimate feel to it than the upstairs area, with smaller tables and lots of dark wood; very nice and stylish.
After being introduced to Graham, who was our bartender for the evening, we were served a Korean plum wine with our first dish, Prawn Mari, which was a kind of summer roll but the spinach, and the sesame oil used to season it, was a very typical Korean combination. I've never seen such rolls on the menu of a Korean restaurant before so this was an interesting start to our taster menu.
Next up was the Pa Jeon which tasted good but I must agree with chopstix2steaknives and would have preferred it to be a bit lighter. But nevertheless, the taste was good. It was served with Bek Seju, a Korean rice wine. I had never tried Bek Seju before as I usually stick to tea when I have Korean food. I must say that I found it to be a very acquired taste and smell but hey, at least I tried it.
Other dishes, in no particular order, were Yang Yuem Chicken, Crab Tuigim, Gogi Mandu and Pa Jeon. This were served with Mak Geolli, which I found to be much more palatable than the Bek Seju!
We were also served two very traditional Korean dishes, namely Yuk Hwae and Kimchee (also spelled Kimchi ;)
The Yuk Hwae was very good and one of the better ones I have tasted but it would have been even more refreshing if the meat had been a bit colder. I also liked the challenge of mixing everything together as this is usually done by the waiting staff.
The Kimchi is made from scratch and you could tell - it was not only very good and authentic; it was also heavily fermented, which is hard to find in restaurants as they usually serve a 'fresher' version of Kimchi. This was certainly the best Kimchi I've had in a restaurant.
Our evening was rounded off by lovely cocktails and a we were given very handy guide to Korean restaurants in England which I will doubtlessly put to good use.
Altogether I think that Kimchee is on to something good; some dishes are a fresh take on Korean food but it does not let down with the more traditional dishes. I would have loved to try a few more traditional dishes such as a Korean stew, Jap Chae or Bulgogi and hope that the opportunity will arise to visit Kimchee again. I was also impressed by the quality of the tableware, which is apparently imported from Korea. The staff are passionate about what they do and seem determined to introduce Korean food to as many people as possible. And the queues that form at the door of Kimchee every evening indicate that they are well on their way to doing just that.
The venue is a great mix between the traditional and modern - they work hard here with the authentic touches and that is to be admired. The ground floor restaurant was busy and buzzing - we were downstairs in a private space about to be launched to the general public. Heavily styled with traditional touches...cool and chic
So Kimchee - a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings - made on the premises - still not really certain if this is pickled or fermented or both - their version was cabbage with chilli paste - I would say an acquired taste - not sure I could do a whole dish but as a component ingredient in other dishes it definitely adds a kick.
The food was consistently of great quality - I think the fried dishes were the most successful - crab was very good and I know my kids would love the chicken dishes. This is a menu to savour and explore - my first experience of korean food - it won't be my last...
The real star of the show was the Yuk Hwae (above) - similar to a beef tartare - high quality raw beef with sweet pear and cucumber - served with sesame oil and seeds with an egg yolk...carnivore heaven.
We explored the drinks menu in tandem with the food menu - I would pick the plum wines when I return - others a bit more of a challenge - need to train my palette to embrace the new.
The real test is would I go back...an easy yes - with friends or family....in a group with a pile of dishes to sample and share - perfect social fare.
And a big thank you for the Korean restaurant guide - a really nice touch!
taken downstairs to the new floor which will be opened to the public soon and will add another 100+ seats. We were welcomed by the manager and head bartender and they told us about Kimchee and what the evening had in store.
We sampled various Koreen dishes with wines to match:
Seol Jung Mae (14% plum wine) this reminded me a little of sherry and was served with Prawn Mari a rice paper filled with prawns,rice and veg and a mustard dipping. The taste was fresh and an excellent starter. A tastier and healthier alternative to a spring roll.
Bek Seju (rice based wine with ginseng and herbs) - a refreshing wine this was served with Pa Jeon a seafood pancake (this was filled with plump pieces of seafood) This was nothing like i expected, it reminded me of a fritatta - i can happly recommend this dish.
Makgeolli (fermented rice milk) this is a very popular drink but not for me this came with several dishes
deep fried soft shell crab, gogi mandu (chicken dumplings) and Kimchee Jeon (cabbage pancakes)
The Kimchee Jeon were very tasty and my favourite dish in this section though i must point out i enjoyed all the dishes!
We were then served Kimchee which they make on the premises from scratch - pickled cabbage with a chilli paste - this wasnt to my taste but we were with a real kimchee enthusiast in our midst who said it was one of the best she had tasted so it must have been good.
Out came a plate of Yuk Hwae (steak tartare to you and me) i couldnt bring myself to sample this as i like my meat well done but everyone else seemed to love it and the manager told us it was one of there popular dishes.
Out came a rice paper basket filled with chicken Kanpoongi - a mouth watering deep fried chilli chicken in garlic sauce.
We were then given 2 cocktails Bora blue (blueberry liquer mixed with Soju crushed ice and fresh blueberries) and Kimberry Makageoldi (a raspberry liquer based)
finally to end the evening we were given a shot of Soju a Korean clear spirit.
This was my first taste of Korean food and wow i was impressed. I have promised to take my husband here and i have a inkling of some of the dishes to order. A big thankyou to Kimchee for an excelllent night and Qype for introducing me to yet another tasty cuisine
The quality of food and surroundings would make you think that the prices would be high but they are not so i can 100% recommend this place for any occasion
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I loved the design of the restaurant and the fact that we were entertained in our own private eating area down stairs. From start to finish, we were treated very well, especially by our host for the event.
Kimchee spoiled us, as each drink we received, soon followed a side dish from the menu. My favorites were the fried dishes which consisted of; pa jeon (Korean style pancakes with seafood, crab tuigim (soft shell crab) and kanpoogi (chicken in a rice basket).
At the end we received a guide to Korean restaurants in England, which I though was very nice, since they were trying to promote the countries cuisine, rather than think of others as competition.
Pretty good night last night for our first Qype VIQ event. I’ve never actually been able to taste so many different dishes & drinks in one evening! Everything was deliciously prepared & really tasty. Unlike T, the steak tartare was most likely my favourite dish…:)
To top it up, we got the luxury of having the General Manager detailing every dish one by one with an explanation on origins and preparation.
The four stars for now only reflects the fact that I didn’t actually come to dinner at this place yet properly. That is not to say this will not change as I already have it on my radar for my next girlfriends night out monthly reunion and will update this review accordingly soon.
I can truthfully say that I probably wouldn't have chosen a single one of those and therefore missed out on the great variety of textures and flavours typical of the cuisine. Each course was accompanied by a speciality drink - again, I would have probably just stuck to the more familiar choice of beer or wine. Some of the flavours probably take some getting used to, but I particularly like the fact that Korean spirits are a lot less strong than those usually used in cocktails. And apparently, some of the ingredients have proven health benefits - certainly true for the fresh fruit based ones.
We were seated in the beautiful downstairs bar area which has not yet opened to the public, thus missing out on some of the hustle and bustle upstairs. I look forward to coming back and joining one of the mixed tables - even to queueing (average 15 minuts) and making friends with fellow diners along the way.
There are obvious similarities to other successful Asian restaurants like Wagamama or BusabaEthai, but Kimchee has a slightly more upmarket feel to it, even though the prices are in a similar range. This is probably due to the great care the owner takes in choosing the crockery and decor for Kimchee. Wherever possible, this is sourced in Korea. We all fell in love with the beautiful Sake glasses (from Japan), and I particularly loved the clay dishes our food was served in - some of the dishes have their own signature plate!
As I have never been to Korea before, I can't tell how authentic tonight's experience has been, but with a third of all diners originating from the country, this must be pretty close. The country's Olympic team has already booked their table!
We learned a lot about the various foods, and I can't wait to return to sample one of the crispy rice or one-pot mains.
I was surprised to find more than one parallel to German food: both love pickled/fermented cabbage (Kimchee is the name of the Korean version of "Sauerkraut" which is the base of many of the dishes), and steak tartare. The latter is a very brave choice to put on a menu and speaks for the high quality and freshness of the ingredients (in my case judged on appearance alone, I am still too much of a not fully reformed vegetarian).
Went here with my girlfriend and 4 friends. The decor is very nice and modern. Cleverly setting the diners away from the busy road.
The chap that served us was very good for suggestions and checking the food would suit us. Service is quite quick and in the Wagamama style of it arrives when it arrives.
The presentation is superb and the food is very tasty. A varied menu should cater for everyone.
Had a really nice meal here and will be going back a few times I’m sure.
Called for a business lunch whilst working in London and was very impressed.
Much of the seating is refectory-style shared benches, but the overall décor and ambience was good. This was my first experience of Korean food, but everything we had was flavourful and interesting. It wasn’t like Chinese, or Japanese, it has a style of its own. Many of the dishes seem to have a spicy kick, but by no means all of them. One surprising thing was that both my starter and main dish were both cold: I hadn’t realised this when I ordered them.
Recommended: I’ll have to go back and try dinner...
We went to Kimchee on Thursday night for at 7:00pm sitting. I read some mix reviews on the net but like to try out the place myself. There was a large Q but will worth the wait. We enter a very stylish restaurant, the interior was warm modern fused an wink to classic Korean. The walls where exposed layered grey stone covered with glass. They did similar style with natural wood walls covered with glass. What made it look like a preserved work of art.
I have to say from beginning to end the staff could not have been more charming, helpful and were there when you wanted them to be. Although it was very busy. The waiter helped us with the Korean food as we where not familiar with this delightful cuisine.
The food was wonderful really wonderful - We all loved it, we shared al dishes. As a starter we ordered the scallop skewer, chilly prawns and soft shell crab. everything was very tasty, very hot (heat wise) and beautifully presented.
We had various cocktails starting with a gorgeous red Soju one. which was also very good and complimented the pork belly dish wonderfully. The Bulgogi dish was a delightfully tasty mix of flavours.
I really enjoyed the vibe in this restaurant, we had an early sitting but it was buzzy and next to our group where many Korean guest. Looking at there faces it was obviously good food.
The meal for three was well priced - as you can tell from the review we did not go mad but felt that we got good service and excellent food and therefore it was worth it.
Can't wait to go again and will do so soon as it's well affordable.
For photos - please go to http://chopstix2steaknives.blogspot.com/2011/04/kimchee-h...
Kimchee is a new restaurant that opened up in Holborn. It took over the ex-Matsuri site that had a fire incident last year which it seems that they never managed to recover from.
It was another ladies’ catch up dinner and the opening of Kimchee was perfect timing. On the day we went, it was actually Opening Day 2.
Even at 8pm, the place was jam packed and we waited for 40 minutes to get a table. While waiting, there was a gentleman who asked if he could join us. Sorry mister, ladies only and trying to cut the queue is a no no! When you get to the front of the queue, a lady kindly invited us to wait inside at a scenic garden patch of stone pebbles and fountain with a wall of Korean characters glowing against a dark setting. Turn your head and you are greeted by the grill section where you could see the chefs busily grilling away.
We were finally called and upon being seated, we were informed that any skewers orders will take around 20 minutes due to how busy the kitchen was. We quickly placed our orders as most of us were starving by then. While waiting for our orders, we looked around and it was a huge place. I almost did not notice that there were 2 sections to the place that had a cage like wall dividing both sections. Most tables have seats of 6 with bar-like benches along the side for lone or double diners. I liked the decor with the lanterns motif used for the lights; the whole place had a streamlined unassuming posh feel to it.
Korean tea/green tea (per pot) - It was quite amusing when our drinks arrived as the Korean tea came in a huge earthen pot that looked like those Chinese clay pots used to boil herbal soup.
Kimchee - The crunchy texture and sweetness of the cabbage is more prominent in this version with the heat of the chilli hitting you only right at the end. Not overly spicy which is good for the non-kimchee lovers but bad if you like it super spiced!
Sukju Namul - A cold dish of bean sprouts in sesame oil & garlic dressing. This was quite normal and a good one to order if you like bean sprouts.
On a side note, I’m quite used to having side dishes given automatically to each table free in Sydney and other countries that should all these side appetisers really be charged and accepted in London?
Yuk Hwae - One of my favourites in Korean cuisine. Yuk Hwae comprises of thinly sliced raw beef that is semi-frozen with pears that have been sliced to the same length and size as the beef to bring out the refreshing sweetness. Topped with sesame sauce and egg yolk to give an aromatic creamy balance.
The Yuk Hwae was one of the better ones I've had in London. It is such an amazing summer dish when made right. The one from Kimchee was good, the sweetness of the pear slices paired well with the beef. The dressing was light with just the right amount of sesame to accentuate the flavours. The beef slices could have been set to a more semi-frozen state so that it gives that crunchy texture but this is just nitpicking here. I am already happy that I did not get one that has been drowned in sesame (so many places do that) such that you don’t get all the other elements that make this so good.
Jap Chae - I really like the Jap Chae in Asadal which is quite close by, actually that was our Plan B if we couldn’t get in to Kimchee. We all loved the Jap Chae here. Sesame oil and soy sauce that has clinged to each and every strand of glass vermicelli noodles, delicious!
Pa Jeon - There were 3 Korean pancakes on the menu but we decided to go for the traditional version which is made with spring onions and seafood mix, served with soy and chilli sauce on the side. The pancake was too doughy and it didn’t have that slight crisp exterior. The flavours were drowned out by the too generous proportion of the doughy batter.
Spicy calamari - Spicy calamari was quite ordinary. The calamari itself was good but the batter was not deep fried enough and was a tad bland. The vegetables that came with it were good though.
Crab Tuigim - This was quite a disappointment. Deep fried soft shell crab should be crispy with the oil mixed into the juices of the crab and batter for that oh-so-good deep fried taste. Kimchee’s version was not deep fried enough and the soft shell crab was still quite fresh because of that. None of us liked this one.
Bulgogi - Bulgogi is another favourite that people like to order and we were no exception. Described as thinly sliced beef that has been marinated in a blend of fruits, soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, onions and garlic, this was GOOD! Tenderly soft and juicy.
Scallop skewer - The scallop had a slight stringy texture and charred exterior from being grilled while it was still semi-soft in the middle. The sauce was really good and more should have been given as what we got was not enough to bring out the taste. I recommend that you try to mop up every bit of that sauce with your scallop.
Raw Beef Dolsot Bimbimbap - I only had a taste of the bimbimbap and thought that the rice was still too soft, it needed to be more al dente. Especially the bits that cling on the sides which have been coated with sesame oil to make that layer of rice touching it brown and crispy. In terms of spiciness, it was a much more muted version which will sit well with non spicy-eaters.
Tofu Dolsot bimbimbap - My friend who had this was not impressed with the vegetarian version. Her comment was that it felt like someone who rummaged through the fridge in their kitchen to find what ingredients they have and chucked it all together. Satisfactory for a home meal but not so at a restaurant.
Both Jjigae does not come with rice and a side order of rice is required. The Dwengjang jjigae had soybean added to the broth which gives it a nutty milky taste. Both were decent but not very spicy at all.
Generally, we were pleased with the food and the prices are reasonable. It should be a hit with the lunchtime crowd in the area. Is it authentic as stated on their menu, I’ll have to say that it does swing that way more but not all the way.
Comment 2 comments on this review
Kimchi, 26 April 2012:
Great review – I totally agree that it is cheeky to charge for Banchan, never happens outside of London (or UK). Perhaps it is different in the Korean heartland of New Malden, need to go there one day to check it out.
M Smith, 26 April 2012:
What a great review. Love the blog photos too. I’ve only visited Kimchee Holborn once before but generally agree with all the points you made. Nice to read some proper critical but fair reviews from time to time ;)
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