London – Eating & Drinking – Restaurant – Other Asian – Korean
Having worked in the area for a while, Kimchee is typically referred to as a landmark with the description, “That Korean place that always has the queues out the front”. If you have the good fortune of spending any time inside, the reason for the queues becomes abundantly clear.
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.
Check out my review of Kimchee – I am mrfrisky – on Qype