Review: Kimchee, High Holborn

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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Let’s get realistic here. I’m ridiculous.

I come all the way to England from an Asian country and go on a massive Asian food hunt. I’ve had Japanese food, Chinese food, Thai food, and now, Korean food? I don’t even remember the last time I had proper European (Italian? German?) food or English food (Pub food? Fish and chips?) and up till now, have yet to try Scotch eggs although they’re supposedly one of the most British things I could eat.

So yes. I’m ridiculous.

But I suppose if you look at it from another perspective, the fact that loads of locals flock to these places is a pretty encouraging sign. In fact, someone even told me that London food is international food and so what if I’m eating Malaysian food all the time? At least it’s London Malaysian food! *convinces self*

I suppose hall food has spoilt us. When you wake up and get served pie with the consistency of rubber or meat that takes longer to chew than gum, Western food doesn’t seem as appealing and we scour the outdoors for the Asian delicacies of home. But better chewy meat than no food at all and till I move to a place with an actual stove, my best bet for cheap lunches is microwaving hello to frozen food. (Ha ha ha, so funny.)

Ahem.

A popular place amongst some of my friends would be Kimchee, a Korean restaurant in the heart of London. I finally got to try it last Friday and the first thing I have to note is that the branch in Holborn could use better service! Eye rolling smile

It was about 11.45am and the store opens at 12pm. However, when we arrived, it was raining and windy. We entered the store to sit at the waiting corner by the entrance only to be told that we had to wait outside. For starters, I really did not understand why we weren’t allowed to just stand in the warmth, clearly not obstructing anyone for all the tables had been set up and the waiters were really just standing in a group chatting in the corner waiting for the clock to strike 12. And secondly, when we were waiting outside, a crowd started gathering and yet they still didn’t let anyone in. 

Finally, I got really cold and reentered the restaurant.. and well, nothing happened. The waiters just continued to chat till it was 12pm and then seated us. Now, couldn’t they have done that in the first place? I don't know smile

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Anyway, the place was very nice with a long table to view the outside. I know some are uncomfortable with having people watch you eat, but I enjoy people-watching as I eat so I really liked that! Plus, there was a lot of natural lighting coming in as well which is always really cheery and refreshing to have in London. Smile 

But on to the food!

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We ordered a Budae Jjigae for £7.90a spicy hot pot of kimchee, tofu, ramen noodles and beef with sausage and baked beans. I personally did not enjoy this very much but that’s probably because I’m not much a fan of kimchee. However, it does have a spicy kick to it which I did appreciate!

I felt the serving of ramen was pretty sparse but there’s always the option of topping up with a bowl of rice or an extra helping of noodles for those with big appetites! Smile 

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Rice!

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We also had the Hot Pot Bulgogi for £8.30 which had thin slices of marinated beef, Korean dates, rice cakes and spinach with glass noodles in a slow cooked soy, ginger and garlic broth which I found delicious! The soup was sweet and flavourful while the rice cakes were just the right amount of chewy. I don’t enjoy having rice cakes that are too thick and these were sliced perfectly in my opinion!

I wish they had more of the glass noodles which once again felt pretty sparse in this bowl but it was still pretty good and I was quite happy with this.

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We also got the Bibimbap to share which comes with a choice of beef, chicken, tofu, eel, or seafood. We opted for eel for £12 but the other options come at more modest prices of £9.30 for seafood and £8.90 for beef. But what exactly is bibimbap?

Their website describes it as: A choice of beef, chicken, tofu or seafood, served sizzling hot in a stone pot. Consisting of a hearty mixture of sticky rice, vegetables, egg and red chilli paste, is then mixed together at the table. Before the rice is placed in the pot, the bottom of the bowl is coated with sesame oil, making the layer of the rice touching the pot golden brown and crispy.

Personally, I didn’t find the eel bibimbap very worth it unless you’re a massive fan of eel. That’s because the dish is best enjoyed mushed up and with eel having its soft texture, it got a little too mushy in my opinion. However, bibimbap in general is quite delicious, especially if you’re craving for some rice, but don’t want to eat it plain. Smile 

All in all, Kimchee was pretty good for Korean food. I didn’t feel as though anything came out of a packet and the flavours of everything wasn’t ‘Westernized’ in the way some stores here tend to change up Asian food. It tasted authentic and if it weren’t for the dismal service (our plates were cleared but it took about 30 minutes for the bill to come), I would go back in a heartbeat.

Note: It got crowded really quickly so if you want a seat, better make it there early! Or very late.

KIMCHEE,

71 HIGH HOLBORN

LONDON

Number: 020 7430 0956

MON-FRI : 12pm - 3pm   /   5:30pm - 10:30pm

SAT: 12pm - 10:30pm

SUN: 12pm - 10pm

Till then.. Have some happy goats, folks and keep smiling! Open-mouthed smile 

Review: Eat Tokyo, Holborn

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a yummy place I’ve been to and to be honest, I haven’t been the best foodie around. When I get good food, I get lazy to blog and when I’m hardworking enough to bring my camera and game face out, the food isn’t much to shout about.

But when Kok Weng came over for a visit from Sheffield, and Baby J was around London as usual (she’s here so often, you’d think she studies here! Smile with tongue out), what better opportunity than to take them to Eat Tokyo, a place I’ve been to once before and thoroughly enjoyed.

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My friends are so attractive! What can I say? Birds of a feather flock together. Winking smile 

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To think they used to fight all the time. Smile with tongue out 

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Hi, Kok Weng! Open-mouthed smile 

A short walk away from International Hall and Holborn, Eat Tokyo is not particularly remarkable in its exterior, but the moment you enter the store, you get greeted by a row of fresh sashimi and a grinning Japanese chef behind the counter. Both of the times I’ve been there, I was seated below where it is spacious and well-lit. And the service is pretty good too! Smile But enough about the atmosphere, let’s talk about the food!

If you have ever been to Yo! Sushi (which I do not recommend!!! LIKE STAY AWAYY NO NO NO NO I DON’T LIKE ITTTT!!) and tried the katsu curry there (which again, I do not recommenddddd!!!), this is miles and miles above it. Costing just 6.50pounds for this huge huge plate, I think it’s such a bargain! And there’s an option of either pork or chicken. Smile 

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I held up my phone as a comparison to show its size, hehehe. And this is the ‘regular sized’ option. For the big eaters, there’s a double sized portion under 10 pounds! Haven’t tried that option though because this fills me up just fine. And if you wanna use Wasabi as a comparison (with its katsu curry costing 5.45 pounds), I find that Wasabi’s a little more heaty and the sauce isn’t as authentic as the one here.

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Jocelyn got the tempura set for 11 pounds and she liked it as well. I got to try an eggplant tempura and it wasn’t too oily, which was great! They don’t serve it with the dipping sauce though but will provide it if you ask for it.

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And here’s Kok Weng’s teriyaki chicken bento set. With a side of miso soup, agedashi tofu, some sushi rolls and a salad, I’d say it’s a pretty good use of 9 pounds.

But that’s not the best part. What I really really enjoyed about my meal was this roll: the Hyper roll!

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It won an award too! ^

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Each sushi is an amazing bite of salmon, eel, prawn, and ebiko! It is definitely the best I’ve ever had but the price’s a little steep at 14 pounds per roll so probably only get this if you’re feeling particularly indulgent. The salmon was smooth, the eel was delicious, the prawn was fresh and had just enough bite, whilst the flavours of mayo with a hint of wasabi went so incredibly well with it!

They do have other roll options ranging from 8 pounds to 14 pounds so you could always opt for cheaper options, but if you wanna try an award-winning roll at a place with relatively affordable yet authentic Japanese food, I’m pretty happy with Eat Tokyo. Smile 

PS: I’ve tried another roll there before but wasn’t very pleased with it. I think it was the prawn roll and the rice felt warm and not sticky enough for me so bear that in mind as well!

Update 15/4/14: I headed back to Eat Tokyo and whilst their bento sets and other dishes were as amazing as ever, their Hyper Roll was disappointing with much smaller portions and with the pieces not as well put together. Could be an off-day for them but I’ve heard from other friends that it isn’t as good now either. Sad smile

    Address

    50 Red Lion Street

    High Holborn

    London

    WC1R 4PF

     

    Phone
    020 7242 3490

     

    Opening Times
    Monday - Saturday: 12:00am - 3:30pm, 6:00pm-11:30pm

    Sunday: Closed

#tubestrike

Friday, February 7, 2014

Is it strange that when I found out about the London Tube Strike, I got fairly excited? I mean, a large part of me knew how troublesome it would be and was so incredibly grateful for the fact that university’s just a walking distance away from where I live, but there was another part of me that was itching to know what it would be like!

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I can first start off my saying how I don’t think strikes like these are very common in Asia. It’s the culture probably, but I just can’t imagine working professionals deciding to stop work for a few days to fight for a cause. Even now it seems almost comical when my teachers give us a day off lectures or classes to strike for higher pay or gather around dressed in black to mourn marginal salary increases. Maybe it’s the more conservative culture we come from but it feels as though if a member of staff decided to gather a group of them to strike for an action, it wouldn’t get much support because they would just be too fearful to ‘get themselves in trouble’.

Evidently, I’m not speaking from experience and can only speculate but based on the media & police chaos that resulted from Bersih, a ‘peaceful’ protest, now being in a country where it isn’t uncommon to see people walking on the streets with placards protesting for something or the other (especially outside the Royal Courts of Justice, just minutes away from LSE) is quite a change and I thought I should document my tube strike experience! Open-mouthed smile 

As mentioned before in some previous post (I think!), I travel to Zone 4 every week to coach debate to a group of school children. It takes about an hour to get there by tube and walking, and I was honestly getting quite panicky about having to use alternative lines since all of the tube stations nearby uni were closed.

Can’t be bothered to look for a higher-res picture so this will do:

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This is how the tube map normally looks like!

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Original here.

So as you can see, a massive chunk of the lines around central London were not in operation!

I managed to get a glimpse of the effects of the strike when walking to school. There were a ridiculous number of cars on the road and the air was thick with smog! Buses filled the streets and lines at the bus stop were so long! They started sending out extra buses from long ago to help meet the needs of the people.

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How a modern bus looks!

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Vintage buses!

By the way, I’m currently obsessed with the cartoon filter on the Camera360 app and turned all my pictures for this post into cartoons! Open-mouthed smile 

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Including myself! Open-mouthed smile 

So, on the first day of the strike, it was apparently crazy chaotic with roads jammed and buses filled to the brim! The tube stations that were operating were supposedly filled with people and it was such a rush. D:

But by the second day, there were loads of people on the road because I guess most of them decided to walk and cycle instead of waiting for buses which were delayed up to an hour.

On Thursday, I put my game face on, my Gryffindor scarf which I got as a Christmas present, and was ready to go!

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HEHEHE.

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Nice, leh? Nice, leh?? Open-mouthed smile 

Because one of my lecturers was on strike that day (they call it industrial action), I went for class in the morning and headed back to my hall till the afternoon. From there, it was just a 12 minute walk to King’s Cross St. Pancreas which thankfully, happened to be open!

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It was about 1pm and around that time, stations are often not very packed. But it was so so so filled! You can’t really tell in the picture above but there were loads of people waiting. I took the Northern line to Bank and from there, walked to Monument to get on the District line.

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I gave myself extra time and left early just in case it would take ages for a train to come, and well enough, it did! I waited for ages at Monument but when the tube finally came, it wasn’t too bad!

Because so many stations were closed, the journey was incredibly quick. The train just passed each station with a quick announcement that “This station is closed.” Repeat that for about four times, stop once, repeat again, and before I knew it, I was at the required station with time to spare! Even earlier than how I normally am! Heh?

The way back was extremely packed and at one point, my head was pressed against the chest of some very tall stranger for about six stops. LOL, poor guy.

Another swap and soon, I found myself on a near empty train. Open-mouthed smile 

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Even managed to get a seat!

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With plenty of empty ones by my side! Open-mouthed smile 

So there you have it!

My London tube strike experience. No jumping out of bus windows or 2 hour lines or even a stampede!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you see it), the most exciting thing about it was trying to enter a packed train and that doesn’t differ too much from how it is during rush hour anyway! Well, there’s going to be another strike next week unless the union can come to a satisfactory agreement so we’ll see how the rest of my experience plays out!

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Malaysia Night is happening tomorrow night and I am so excited for it! If any of you are in UK and want to get a ticket (with proceeds going to charity!!), do leave me a message or a comment or an email and we can sort something out! Open-mouthed smile 

Here, have a quokka! Open-mouthed smile 

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