Review: Kimchee Pancras Square
Korean restaurant Kimchee Pancras Sq opened this week. This is the second Kimchee restaurant to open in London and follows on from the success of the original Kimchee in Holborn.
Kimchee offers an array of meat, fish and vegetable dishes including Korean classics such as Kimchi (fermented vegetables pickle), Jap chee (sweet potato noodles) and of course the rice hot bowl BiBimBap.
Decor: Designed by Japanese interior architect Aiji Inoue the ground floor features a Japanese garden style with dark wood tables and chairs, sleek lines and stunning bulbed lighting. On the left is a large open plan kitchen where diners can watch the chefs at work. Downstairs has two separate private dining areas, one specifically for Korean BBQ tables and the second a private dining room that can seat up to 30 people.
Food: My starter of 2 plump scallops were perfectly cooked, soft and delicate in a light sweet soy dressing. The mandau chicken dumplings were fried not steamed (I didn’t read the fine print) very similar to a Chinese dumplings but the meat was dry and lacked seasoning. The star side dish were the bao buns filled with chargrilled slithers of marinated beef. Smokey cuts of lean beef inside the spongy buns were delightful.
My guest enjoyed her plate of thick udon noodles, the stir fried vegetables enhanced its natural sweetness and was a comforting dish. The sourness from the sauce against the crunchy texture of the breaded chicken (think panko coated) gave an extra dimension to the meal. The chicken bibimbap was sadly not as pleasurable and was pretty average and bland. There was more rice to chicken ratio and no sign of chilli.
Onto desserts… Sagwa choux pastry dessert was less Far East and more Eastern European. A pebble shaped golden pastry filled with cream and an apple side sauce. Delicious dessert nevertheless but unusual to see on the menu. My dessert of Kong-Galu Crème Brûlée with ice cream was a Korean and French marriage of flavours. The brûlée was thicker in consistency and darker in colour to the usual brulee, much like Kaya (Malaysian coconut spread). Indulgent and rich the dessert was my favourite part of the meal. However when I asked the waitress what was in the dish she kept replying “I don’t know” – not very helpful.
Summary: My dining experience at Kimchee was a little confusing, on one hand its beautifully stylish, the decor transports you into an Asian fantasy land but the food is not authentically Korean. For me Kimchee is an Asian fusion restaurant, a hybrid of dishes from Taiwan, China and Japan. I was disappointed that the food lacked spice and flavour in comparison to other Korean restaurants such as JinJuu in Mayfair. Everything was over sweetened and I desperately awaited a taste sensation of chilli heat or va va voom. With a heavy heart Kimchee (for me) was style over substance and completely different from their lunch spots I’ve visited where their small bites packed a punch of flavour.
Kimchee, 2 Pancras Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4AG