London Supermarkets Go Korean!

“Korean” is a food trend spreading far and wide across the globe, and the K-food fad is hot in London right now. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t quite mainstream enough to be stocked in leading supermarkets, though.

Since returning from Korea in 2009, I’ve been making trips to Koreatown, Chinatown, or the specialist Asian supermarkets that are dotted around London for my K-food shopping fixes. A recent visit to ASDA showed me all this was about to change…

You can imagine my excitement when I saw the following items (and at prices far lower than I’ve previously seen in London) in the supermarket’s “oriental food” section:

Needless to say, I went on  bit of a spree that day!

And ASDA aren’t alone in their discovery of K-food popularity. Tesco are starting to catch on, too. Here’s what was in their “world food” section:

Not only is this great news for fans of Korean food, but also for anyone feeling brave when filling their shopping basket. And chances are, after trying it for the first time, K-food newbies will never look back.

I wonder how long it will take for fresh kimchi to show up in supermarkets’  fridge sections? I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time.

  • Keep an eye on the “world food” aisles in your local supermarket. You never know what may turn up!
  • Click on the link to read the full article on How Korean Food Got Fashionable.
Posted in Fadfad, K-food focus, London Spotlight, Random | 8 Comments

Family Fun @ Korea Calling, Thames Fest

Remember the Thames Festival last summer? I spent the weekend in the “Korea Calling” area, and had an awesome time. You can read the write-up here, but I was devastated when the camera I was using wiped my photos. Miraculously, they have suddenly reappeared! So without further ado, here’s a snapshot of the fun that was had:

The KCC stall informed and entertained festival-goers

K-pop-up norebang was a firm fave

Street foodies Kimchi Cult were there to feed hungry bellies

Babbling Comedy had the audience in stitches with their clowning show

The weather was typically British, but the show went on!

Kukkiwon Taewkon-Do did an impressive demonstration, and then led a workshop with punches and kicks a-plenty

We got free samples of Korean tea and cookies. Also, check out the cute cupcake necklace that I bought from a nearby stall called Miwary (can also be found at http://www.Miwary.com)

Then I met 2NE1 ㅋㅋㅋ

The sun set on the OXO Tower and the frivolities of the weekend

THE END (until Korea Calling 2012…)

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Kimchi Cult @ Eat Street

Since 2009, Eat Street has gone from being a concept born out of love for street food to an ultra-popular cult foodie haven. Vendors and foodies brave London’s weather for a full-on street food experience at chosen location spots around the city.

The hub of Eat Street is currently at the previously bare King’s Boulevard in King’s Cross, now transformed into a vibrant, buzzing meeting place brimming with exciting colours, flavours and cultures.

Where better for K-fusion-food innovators Kimchi Cult to park themselves and sell their home-made kimchi sliders? These sell like hotcakes, and the ‘Cult are really starting to live up their name.

Their menu has expanded and recipes evolved, with Korean / Mexican tortas, Korean Fried Chicken (“the other KFC”), kimchi wurst (Korean / German style!) and KBLT (kimchi, bacon, lettuce and tomato) subs all part of the repertoire.


With their love and dedication to all things street-foodie, Kimchi Cult fit right into the ethos of Eat Street as a street food celebration, revolution and community. The different indie food bizzes work together and support each other, as reflected in the fun and laid-back feel when visiting the pop-up stalls, as well as online (@EatStreet is much-Tweeted about!)

This community feel has spawned some very inventive food mash-ups, AKA Eat Street collaborations. When Kimchi Cult met Anna Mae’s (Southern Street Food specialising in macaroni cheese), this is what happened:

Photo courtesy of @kookybakes

I defy anyone to look at this pic without salivating!

Mac ‘n’ kimchi: why has noone thought of this before? It looks scrumptious and comfort food-y, and is a veggie(ish*) option for Eat Street’s non-carnivorous visitors (*the kimchi is made with fish sauce.)

Being a veggie myself, I’ll never be able to tuck into a kimchi slider or KBLT, but as someone whose heart is torn between London and Korea, I can’t help but be drawn towards what Kimchi Cult are doing.

And if kimchi’s not your thing, Eat Street has something for everyone. Believe the hype, and see for yourself…

  • The Kimchi Cult / Anna Mae’s collaboration is available at Eat Street, King’s Boulevard, King’s Cross, TODAY!
  • We hope *fingers crossed* that it will become a regular thing!
  • Click on the names to find out more about Eat StreetKimchi Cult and Anna Mae’s.
  • An honourable mention goes to Vietnamese vendors  Banhmi11 (also at Eat Street), from whom I bought a lovely, spicy and veggie-friendly tofu banh mi! 🙂
Posted in K-food focus, London Spotlight | 1 Comment

KPOP Night @ KCC UK

Do you love K-pop? If so, don’t miss the Korean Cultural Centre’s 4th K-pop night, which takes place from 7pm to 10pm tomorrow (Tuesday 17th April, 2012).

There will be a number of competitions with fab prizes including a Galaxy Note phone / tablet and a Samsung WiFi camera. To make sure you’re in with a chance of winning, turn up in fancy dress. The theme is Taegeukgi (The Korean Flag), and the more creative you are, the better! What will you wear?

As well as K-pop, K-pop and more K-pop, the night will also focus on the Olympics, and the summer festival event All Eyes on Korea that will run throughout the lead-up to the games. I can’t wait to hear what this is gonna entail, and how we can get involved.

Unbelievably, the entry to tomorrow’s event is free, and soft drinks and snacks will be provided by the KCC. As it’s first-come first-served with a 200 peeps limit, make sure you get there early!

See you there K-poppers 🙂

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Terracotta Far East Film Festival hits London!

Attention London movie buffs: Terracotta Far East Film Festival starts today!

The grand opener is Kang Je-Kyu’s war epic My Way, which is being shown at the Prince Charles Cinema this evening. Check out the trailer below, and get excited!

Other South Korean films to be screened are Kim Ki-Duk’s Arirang, Jeong Yong-Ki’s Couples and Lee Seok-Hoon’s Dancing Queen. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also an array of not-to-be-missed movies from Japan, China, Burma and Taiwan on the bill. Here’s the full schedule:

The Korean Breakfast Club Double Bill and Terror Cotta Horror Movie Marathon look to be highlights of the fest. Brace yourselves for a diverse showcase of modern Asian cinema, grab your tickets and enjoy the ride!

Posted in Film time, Hot events!, London Spotlight | 1 Comment

Bringing Korea Home

Quite a few of my maties are in Korea at the moment- either on a trip, or doing their teaching year. Apart from being insanely jealous, I’ve also been thinking about what I’m going to ask them to bring back for me. 😉 In turn, this made me think back to the gifts and tidbits that I brought home after my last visit.

I was so busy sightseeing, meeting peeps, learning about Korea and having the time of my life, that there wasn’t much time for shopping. I did a quick spree on my final night, though, just to get the essentials.

So, what did I bring home from Korea?

1. Pepero (빼빼로) 

Of course I had to grab some Pepero for myself and my friends. These chocco-covered biscuit sticks are the ultimate Korean snack, perfect for movie nights or as party food. My four-year-old nephew loves them too!

2. Character socks

At 5,000 won (about £2.70) for five pairs from a little street market, how could I resist these cute socks? I got some animal ones for the littluns, some Big Bang ones for my boyf, and some Dalki ones for me. Never too old for character socks!

3. Nokcha Latte (녹차 라테) sachets

Green tea is light, refreshing and detox-ing. Green tea latte is yummy, sweet and luxurious. This is my all-time fave hot drink, and finding a London cafe with it on the menu is a rare treat. With this ‘just add warm milk’ powder from Family Mart, there’s no need. Mmm.

4. Dream Cacao 72% chocolate

Lotte’s Dream Cacao is an intense cocoa hit in mini-cube form. It tastes lovely, and as it’s so strong, leaves you wanting less chocolate (that’s my excuse anyway!) To me, the best thing about it is the novelty factor, and as I’ve been missing it since I left Korea the first time, I simply had to bring some back.

5. Tonymoly cosmetics

I absolutely love this cosmetic brand- the products are so adorable, so precious, and so unbelievably well-priced. This time, I bought some orange-scented hand creme packaged in a plastic orange for my mum, some face cooling sprays in bunny-shaped spritzers for my sister, and fruity lip glosses for girly friends. I just wish my backpack were a bit bigger!

Can you believe these cuties are lip glosses?

6. Chopsticks

Chopsticks make pretty, practical and apt pressies from a Korea trip. I bought some wooden and metal sets from a standard souvenir shop, all of which had gorgeous designs. Table cloths and coasters were also for sale, and I remember getting loads of these the first time I was in K-land.

7. Chewing gum

Okay, so this one’s a bit obscure… There’s a tradition in my office that every time someone takes a trip, they bring some chewing gum back. Korean gum certainly didn’t disappoint! I chose a variety including coffee and rose flavours, as well as gum specifically ‘for men’ and ‘for women’. Maybe not the best tasting nor the best quality gum in the world, but definitely the funniest and most interesting.

8. Notebooks

Oh, I miss the wealth of cheap ‘n’ cheerful stationary that fills shops on (probably) every street in Korea. The wording on the notebook pictured reads “Always know where you are going. Travelling will be a good outlet for you to expand your romantic interests” and “Everything changes but beauty remains.” Really, what’s not to love?

9. Solomon’s seal tea

This refreshing Korean tea has been put into a tea bag by the O’Sulloc company. It’s a subtly flavoured root tea that works just as well to cleanse just after a meal as it does matched with a rice cake snack for a perfectly Korean-themed tea break.

10. Dried squid snack

Not for veggie-ol’-me, but as this snack is very different to what us Brits are used to nomming on, it makes for a unique gift. It’s apparently the perfect accompaniment to a few beers (and may be received more favourably in this state too!)

11. Jeju choc

As I had the awesome opportunity to visit the island of Jeju-do, gift shopping was made easy. Jeju chocolates roll souvenir and sharing-sweeties into one. Typical flavours are hallabong, tangerine, Jeju cactus and green tea. I went for… well all of them of course! Hallabong choccies shaped like little Haruebang (the grandfather symbol of the island) are extra special.

Had there been more time, there’s no doubt I would’ve shopped a whole lot more. It’s quite interesting to look back and see what I deemed ‘essential’ in the spur of the moment, though! What goodies will you bring home after a Korea trip, and what will your Korea-bound mates think is the perfect present for you?

  • My last-minute spree was done in Dongdaemun, Seoul, but Korea is a 24-hour country and all of the above (apart from Jeju choc) will be commonly found in any supermarket or corner shop.
  • Click on the brand names to find out more about Lotte, Family Mart, TonyMoly and O’Sulloc.
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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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