Is Korean the new Japanese? I have heard about the cultural parallel but when seeing an abundance of udon dishes at Kimchee High Holborn, a “modern” take on Korean cuisine not to be confused with the other Kimchee in Golders Green, I couldn’t help thinking Koya with chilli. Setting the udon aside, there are many other classic one-dish meal choices such as Bibimbab and kimchee based hot pot, while the usual Korean barbecue is only prepared from Kimchee’s open kitchen. No communal grilling at the table, I’m afraid.
Indeed, Kimchee is less of a restaurant but more a well-designed cafeteria for office workers to swing by for a quick lunch. Most tables seat six diners. Very likely you will be sharing it with other punters making it a romantic no-go. The interior design of dark wood and organic Asian looking light shades is perhaps a telling how influential Hakkasan must be in terms of decor. Nevertheless, it oozes class as opposed to the unwashable smell of charcoal and burning meat.
Food-wise, it is very good (for the money I paid for). The beef bulgogi charred from the kitchen was served with a garnish of deep fried garlic slices, rocket leaves and nicely cooked long beans in a hot clay plate. Tender beef. Sweet marinate. Aromatic and peppery taste from the rocket leaves. This will always win me over.
The Dduk Bok Gi – rice and fish cakes stir-fried in chilli sauce – was not the best I’ve eaten. But, this had more to do with the rice cakes being sliced two inches long rather than the flavours. Usually the rice cakes arrive a little longerrrrrrr!! Marked by two chilli signs, this dish was meant to be really hot. It wasn’t; there was a mild heat of chilli that was cancelled out by the overall sweetness. I much prefer the same dish at Assa or Ssam.
The Raw Beef Bibimbab was tamed and landed in front of me with a tub of chilli sauce almost the same size as my lip balm. While you could ask for more chilli, it spoke volume about Kimchee. This is never going to be an authentic Korean firework but a milder, subtler reincarnate. Nonetheless, the vegetables – there was not a lot – were delectably sautéed in sesame seed oil; the chunky stripes of beef toppled with raw egg yolk were of good quality. But will I come back for more of this? I’m not sure.. The Bibimbab at Bibimbab Cafe was more wholesome and they had the proportion of vegetables and rice right while at Kimchee it was too rice-y.
And now I sound like a rice queen…
The quick meal concluded with this Chap Ssal Doeuk also known as chocolate-filled Moji coated with dark choc dust. They looked like chocolate truffles but tasted a lot nicer. Great sticky texture from the moji and creamy chocolate filling. Perfect. The best Korean dish of the day.
The bill came DEAD CHEAP. Kimchee is running a 50% discount until 18 April. That said, even without the discount, I’d still find the meal quite good value for money. The taste isn’t Korean all the way but I believe Kimchee has its own appeals of lunch-hour convenience, but if you fancy something more fiery or a place to sit down, stretch your legs and call it a day, Kimchee is definitely NOT it.
Oh, and how much my bill was?
£14 for all that including service.
It would work out just a little short of £25 when the 50% period is due.
My head rating says, “7 out of 10″.
My heart rating says, “6 out of 10″.
KIMCHEE HIGH HOLBORN
71 High Holborn
Tel. 020 7430 0956