Sunday, 16 February 2014

Kimchi, Cardiff Korean restaurant review

Kimchi are taking a low-key approach to marketing themselves - in fact, they're just letting the food speak for itself.

After just over one month of trading, this Korean restaurant on Cowbridge Road East has garnered a handful of 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor, has no telephone number online (by the way it’s 02920227122), no social media accounts and no website.

Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be doing them any harm – on the Saturday night we visited, it was packed to the rafters.

Furthermore the owner, who explained that he has opened the restaurant to service the needs of Cardiff’s Korean food crazy Chinese student population, has been thrilled by the reception they’ve received from locals and students alike.

I can understand why.

Having already waxed lyrical about Yakiniku, Cardiff’s other Korean restaurant, over two years ago, it’s much the same this time around.

Kimchi’s food is a breath of fresh air - a unique, sociable experience offering flavours and textures which are a refreshing change from my usual meals out. 

Whilst Kimchi’s lengthy menu may initially seem a little daunting, it essentially breaks down into two main sections:

Firstly, Korean barbecue – choose your marinated meats and vegetables and have a giggle whilst you cook your dinner on the hotplate in the middle of the table. 

The more Korean lagers I necked (£3.50 a pop - I preferred the Hite to the Cass), the less precise my cookery skills became. 

Secondly there’s food which you don’t cook yourselves – the eponymous kimchi, bibimbaps, stir fries, Korean pancakes, dumplings, casseroles, noodles and fried rice dishes.

The four of us ordered a load of dishes from the former section, a load of dishes from the latter section, ate them all and then ordered some more. 

Mrs G couldn't resist the cheap gag
The first of the barbecue dishes, beautifully marbled beef bulgogi (£7.90), was heady with the complexity of its sesame, soy, ginger, garlic and spring onion marinade. 

Bulgogi before cooking
Cigars of rib-eye (£9.50) were just as delightfully tender.

Rib-eye and beef bulgogi
Generous slices of smoked duck breast (£9.30) were flecked with pieces of spring onion which caramelised up a treat. 

So too did thin slices of sweet potato (£3.50) which picked up the meatiness of the dishes we’d cooked before. 

A complimentary plate of garlic put to bed any lingering remnants of Valentine’s romance. 

Pointed peppers (£3.50) meanwhile actually turned out to be chillies – most were enjoyably tolerable but a couple of excruciatingly hot ones had been thrown in for fun. 

That was the end of the bbq antics – but the other food was just as marvellous.

Korean fried chicken is world famous and with stuff this good, I now know why; a huge plate of crispy, tender, sticky, sweet and spicy chilli chicken (£9.50) was the very definition of finger licking good.

Vegetable bibimbap (£7.90) was as artfully presented as would be expected from any restaurant with fayne dayning aspirations. A searingly hot stone bowl was filled with rice, kimchi, tofu, seaweed, bean sprouts, courgettes, chilli sauce and a raw egg yolk – a swift stir and everything combined to make a colourful and clean tasting side dish. 

In contrast, the only dud of the night, special fried rice (£7.90) was pallid, clammy and imbued with the whiff of the seafood which was dotted amongst it. 

A selection of cold Korean salads (£3) provided further interest for the taste buds – cold, slippery bean sprouts; salty ozonic seaweed; spiced & vinegary white radish and cleansing cucumber. 

Lastly, the Kimchi itself (£2.50), a spiced, vinegary, fizzy fermented cabbage which is actually a lot less challenging than it sounds and is in fact surprisingly addictive, especially after a quick blast on the hot plate. 

The food at Kimchi is bloody marvellous. That’s all there is to say. 

The details:

Web - Nope
Telephone - Nope... oh go on then 02920227122
Address - Kimchi, 72 Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff


  1. The kimchi pancakes are pretty awesome as well. You should try them.

    1. Cheers for the tip - I'll order one next time!

  2. I had the beef hotpot and that was amazing too, i'll be going back

  3. When I was in primary school I had a Korean friend, and I loved going round to hers for dinner!

    1. @Kacie - Sounds like an awesome school friend to have had!

  4. Are they open Sunday? Itching to try some Korean since studying out there several years ago

    1. @Anonymous - Closed on Sundays. Thanks for letting me know via Twitter :-)

    2. Just been there for 1st time- brilliant! And they said open Sundays- all day from 12-1030pm

  5. fake Korean dishes, not worth to try

  6. Anonymous and bad use of English. Unwelcome comment of no use. Obviously the fact that you've written this speaks volumes...

  7. Was thinking of eating here on Wednesday... do you need to a book a table in advance or order the bbq meats in advance like at Yakiniku? Thanks!

    1. @Anonymous - I'd definitely book a table to be on the safe side. We didn't have to pre-order any of the meats so I guess you'll be fine too.

  8. My husband and I we love Korean food so after finding out there is a new Korean place in town we just had to check it out straight away.
    The food was amazing. The portions were big enough to share and it was excellent value.
    The service was also very good so we will definitely be coming back for more.

  9. Bad points: small restaurant - although I think that adds to the charm.

    Good points: variety of foods, service, standard of food used including meats, even something as mundane and ordinary as cucumber is made memorable.

    They have a popularity rating for each dish to aid in ordering. My advice, the set menus offer a choice from most sections, the highlight of which is undoubtedly the DIY BBQ at the table although I really enjoyed the Korean fried chicken (bad KFC joke sorry) plus you get a drink and ice cream included.

    Seriously you need this place in your life.

  10. I know that it's not the most important question, but is the owner Korean?

  11. No worth going it is not authentic korean food! It is so fake. And it is own by Chinese! If you are looking for real korean food try Secret K Garden, where the chef is actual korean and the food is authentic traditional korean food. Secret K Garden staff actually speck and are from Korea unlike kimchi.

  12. This restaurant is absolutely terrible i certainly would night recommend it to ANYONE and the owner let me tell you The he owner is a 2 faced shit and don't get me started on the bathrooms