This Pancras square newcomer had a lot to live up to after my experiences of Korean restaurants in New Malden, southwest London, which boasts more BBQ joints than anywhere else in the city due to its huge Korean population. Not to mention bustling scenes nightly in the best ones like Su La or Korea Garden.
Yet Kimchee – named after the fermented dishes made with Chinese cabbage, Korean radish and (sometimes) cucumber – is very different from its more trad New Malden counterparts. It’s an ultra-modern opening in Pancras Square, the second after an original branch in Holborn. The ground floor features an airy room with dark wood tables and chairs. At one end is a large open plan kitchen, where diners can see their dishes being prepared, and a long bar. It’s grown-up, quite glam even. Meanwhile incense burns unobtrusively in corners.
Kimchee serves a wide range of meat, fish and vegetables marinated and cooked on a traditional charcoal grill. While we enjoyed starters of fiery mackerel and peppers and light, bouncy mandu dumplings filled with pork, it was the traditional dolsot bibimbap (which means simply mixed rice served in a stone bowl) that was the real reason for our visit.
Served sizzling hot in – what else? – a stone bowl, there was the expected jumble of sticky rice, vegetables – cucumber, spinach, carrot, mushroom, beansprouts – plus egg, the red chilli paste and sesame oil. We swerved meat and ordered ours topped with delicate slivers of eel. Our only issue? There wasn’t quite enough of the fish: three meagre strips went in seconds, delicious though they were.
In short, you get what you pay for eating out (at least, most of the time) and Kimchee is about right, with starters around £6 and mains about £10. Drinks continue the theme, with cocktails hovering reasonably at about £7-8 too, less than many KX establishments. It’s a useful (and elegant) pitstop if you’re passing through.
Open daily except Sunday. More info here. 2 Pancras Square N1C