Hip and Mainstream: Kimchee Restaurant @ High Holborn

I simply had to try out Kimchee- London’s latest hip and raved-about Korean restaurant, located in the central Holborn area. My friends and I paid a Sunday evening visit, joined the 40-minute queue in anticipation, and finally got seated, served and fed! Here’s what we thought:

Kimchee's funky foyer

Sheheryar
(K-food first-timer! First-ever Korean meal, and first time in a Korean restaurant)

” Somewhere between regular and fast-food”

Kimchee is an efficiently run restaurant somewhere between regular and fast-food. The atmosphere is very well composed. Seats and tables match the decor, which is dark and with just above muted lights. The food itself is an A-. Not perfect, but definitely very good. I especially liked the lightly battered and fried tofu and the kimchi and kimchi pancakes. Also, a bit expensive for what it offers, probably because it’s the only good restaurant in that block, and because the lines are always long.

Hip, clean interior

Annie
(Regular K-fooder! Frequently eats Korean food, and visits London’s Korean restaurants on a regular basis)

“Unlike any other London / Korean restaurant”

I had a really fun night at Kimchee, but I’m not sure I would go there again. It is unlike any other London / Korean restaurant in a number of ways. Firstly, no staff appeared to be Korean- including chefs and waiting staff (although I am aware that a Mr Kim founded and owns the place). Not that this is a problem-  it’s great that K-food is popular enough not to be secluded to Korean employees- I have just never experienced this before. I kept wanting to order in Korean, and had to remind myself not to! The atmosphere was also very akin to the plethora of “chain” restaurants that London has to offer. It was funky and clean, but lacked charm and uniqueness. Having said this, the food itself tasted just as yummy and authentic as the dishes you would find in a New Malden restaurant. But without the low prices (service charge and side dish prices hurt!) and quirky atmos, it simply doesn’t compare.

Yummy kimchi-flavoured feast!

Dave
(K-food second-timer! Only one previous experience of Korean food)

“A definite Wagamama vibe”

I would give Kimchee an 8 out of 10. The long queue was not the ideal way to begin, but it did at least increase your appetite. The restaurant had a definite Wagamama vibe – the seating, the fusion cuisine, the paper tablemats. The food was extremely flavoursome and I’m now a confirmed fan of the bibimbap, having selected it on each of the two occasions I’ve visited a Korean restaurant. Overall, despite the slightly corporate vibe, I would certainly recommend.

Londoners tuck in to kimchi at Kimchee!

Katy
(Occasional K-fooder! A full-time foodie who is familiar with, and enjoys, Korean food)

“Overcrowded, overpriced and underwhelming”

I suppose general impressions would be: overcrowded, overpriced and underwhelming….the food wasn’t terrible, but really, both of the things I ordered (soft shell crab and pork belly) which are normally favourites, were a bit dry and not as tasty as I’d hoped. I may have ordered badly – I thought everyone else’s looked better than mine!  Also, perhaps because it was so packed, the service wasn’t great – it was hard to get their attention, not one dedicated server for our table, not that knowledgeable…..and seeing as they automatically add a service charge, it should be better frankly. Overall, I think next time I’d rather go up the road to somewhere smaller and more authentic.

Kimchee's Mandu

Sundubu chiggae:"Masshisoyo!"

So, mixed reviews from a mixed bunch. Although it seems Kimchee is best-suited to K-food newbies, none of us could deny that we had an ace night, and that as a restaurant, it was worth a visit. It’s just difficult to recommend it that highly when Assa, Po ChaSeoul Bakery and Woo Jung are just a short walk away.

  • Kimchee is located @ 71 High Holborn
  • Closest tubes are Holborn and Chancery Lane
  • Opening hours are 12pm – 11pm (closed between 3 – 5.30pm)
  • For menu, prices and more info, check out Kimchee’s website
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