I wait no more because Kimchee in Holborn is born and for the launch between 4th to 18th April 2011, all food (exclude drinks and takeaway) is 50% off. So how can I resist to try this new restaurant between the offer period and to my surprise it was queuing on a Friday evening after work. The queue reminded me of when Alan Yau’s Cha Cha Moon was first-born. But with a 50% offer how can it not capture the range of people who seem like many was students but there was the few that looks like office workers.
The queue did not get any shorter, even when we left around 10pm there was still a queue. We queue probably an hour before we got a table for four. Lucky that evening it was relatively warm and dry. It was excitement when we finally got inside the restaurant which was beautifully decorated. It had a modern touch but still had that Korean culture design. My favourite would have to be the reception area with its pebble laid floor that has stepping-stones to get to the seats. There is also a little water pond to add to the touch.
The layout of the restaurant is very much like Cha Cha Moon, where it has a stylish canteen feel with its open kitchen. I could still picture the layout when the previous restaurant, Matsuri (Holborn branch) was here before the unfortunate fire incident. It used to be my favourite dining place with the downstairs teppenyaki area which no longer exist. Kimchee seem to only have used upstairs seating area made available.
Instead of the smell of sushi it is now the smokey smell of the barbecue that travel throughout the restaurant from the open kitchen. It was really buzzing that evening which off course would not be surprising.
We ordered a selection of dishes from the menu to share and many are popular which can been seen in London’s Korean restaurant. Let start with Kimchee’s par jeon (Korean seafood pancake) which was better than some places in London, but it would not be the best par jeon I have though.
The jap che (glass noodle with sliced beef and vegetable) was definitely far better than the one I had at Bibimbap Soho (https://chechemui.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/bibimbap-soho/), but the portion size was small. It was a size that would be suitable for a starter which was probably the intention.
The lightly battered sweet chilli chicken was nice, where you had crispy battered chicken and coated with the sweet chilli chicken. But I felt it was missing the crispy outside and a succulent moist chicken inside.
Since it was Korean we could not go without ordering a dolsot bibimbap, so we went for the raw beef dolsot bibimbap and a seafood dolsot bibimbap. Both dolsot bibimbap we got a separate pot of red chilli paste to add or not to add. For the seafood dolsot bibimbap it contained king prawn, scallops, calamari and vegetable. The menu stated it had oyster sauce but I could not see or taste it, but it still tasted great. The dolsot bibimbap would be a recommendation.
We also ordered the galbitang (soup that has short beef ribs with radish, glass noodle and egg), which was another favourite dish that evening. It is nice to go with white rice and I definitely agree with the menu that it is good comfort food. Thinking about it I feel like having a galbitang now. I love when the beef ribs has cooked that it is so soft and just drop off from its bones. But my only criticism would be the carrot was still on the hard side and since it a slow cooked soup it should have been soft. Instead it felt like the carrots was later added to the soup.
Barbecue could not be skipped through when I’m at a Korean restaurant, although the only different is you do not have it cooked in front of you on a barbecue pan. It’s all cooked in the opened kitchen for you. We ordered from the barbecue section of the menu the beef tongue, beef rib eye, pork belly and the scallops skewer. The portion for everything was reasonable size and seem like more than other Korean restaurant we have been to. But the scallops skewer felt small with only two scallops which we had to cut in half to share between four of us.
The beef rib eye was the best out of the barbecue dishes since it was not dry. The beef tongue I felt was too dry and really smokey burnt taste. The same with the belly pork which I would have prefer it to be thinly cut, then the chunky thick slices, as the fat was so obvious to taste.
The drinks is a much wider range then most average Korean restaurant, as there was a range of alcoholic cocktails with Korean twist and juice drinks. I went for one of the juice mix drinks which was like a berry explosion, but I actually wanted the Oriental punch that they were sold out. It was not value for money since it was not a fall glass of juice and I probably would have better off going for a green tea which came in a huge, stylish looking pot.
The services that evening was not the best, with the lack of attention to our table. The busy services got the best of Kimchee. We were served double of some of the BBQ dishes which we only ordered one. But I’m not the least surprise with it being only recently opened and along with the attraction of customers on the 50% off food.
Overall the food was fairly good with room for improvement in some dishes. It was definitely worth it for the offer, but not sure whether I think the same without it. There are probably dishes I would be unlikely to order for full price. So for four people our bill was supposed to be £81 (Including drinks and optional service charge) but because of the 50% off on food our bill was around £51, which I consider a good saving for the night.
71 High Holborn,