There’s a bit of a Marmite reaction to the South Korean speciality, Kimchee. And personally, I lean towards the opinion that it’s not as great as people make out.
My dislike for this fermented cabbage generally comes from the fact that I don’t enjoy eating pickled anything. Would I eat piccalilli straight out of the jar? No. Would I eat Branston pickle without the cheese sandwich? No way. Would I eat pickled cabbage without mixing it with something less slimy, like some juicy meat? Absolutely not. I’ve tried to like it but I’m just not a fan.
That said, I’m beginning to really enjoy an array of other Korean fare. My friend is so obsessed with the Korean restaurant Dotori in Finsbury Park, she eats there every other week. And my mouth still waters when I think of the gooey Kkanpungi (deep fried chicken in a piquant sauce) we ate there.
Fairly recently, we had an equally delicious meal in the Korean restaurant Busan, by Highbury Corner. I enjoyed a tasty bibimbap and it was then I had my first experience of kimchee. But my experience of Korean food kind of stops there.
So it was nice to stumble upon the very stylish Kimchee, during a night out in Holborn recently. I knew I wasn’t going to eat ‘kimchee’. But I was curious to step further into the beguiling world of Korean cuisine.
As I said, this place is stylish. very stylish. Think long benches, dark wood beams and an abundance of lattice-style lighting which creates a lovely warm feel. This is South Korean food with a trendy vibe. And if I have any regret, it’s not trying out their fabulous-looking cocktails which the hipster diners around me were sipping. One for next time I think.
We had booked a lane at All Star Lanes so we delved straight into the main meals. The other half went for the Bulgalbi – a sizzling pot of beef marinated in ginger, Korean dark soy and garlic.
And I tucked into the chicken udon noodles. As you can see this is a comfort-food concoction of crispy breaded chicken pieces and thick udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce.
I thought the whole experience of eating Bulgalbi seemed quite appealing. Traditionally, you wrap up the beef pieces and sticky rice in a lettuce leaf and then pop the whole tasty parcel into your mouth.
According to the boy, the meat was tasty, the sauce was tangy and it a big success. The downside? He wanted more of it. Naturally.
I found the flavour of my chicken udon sauce leaned a tiny bit too close to shop-bought BBQ sauce. This probably sounds a little harsh, but what I mean by this is it was a tiny bit too sweet and flat in taste. Saying that, I can’t say this dish was in any way bland and it hit the comfort food button with success. And in all honesty, a big bowl of silky noodles and crispy chicken with a sweet sauce will rarely fail to satisfy anyone if you’re not looking for refined dining.
The pieces of onion added a nice crunch and I’d highly recommend you try it with the aloe vera drink. Very refreshing indeed.
All in all, we were two very happy diners. And there was no kimchee involved.