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This new Korean restaurant is attracting weeknight queues - but what is its food like?

PUBLISHED: 08:08 20 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:55 20 October 2019

Restaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The dol-sot, beef bibim-bap. Photo: Lauren Cope

Restaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The dol-sot, beef bibim-bap. Photo: Lauren Cope

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Filling the Korean restaurant-shaped hole in Norwich, its arrival has been met with much fanfare. Lauren Cope visited The Kimchi, one of the newest additions to the county's food scene.

Kimchi is a new Korean restaurant in Norwich. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodKimchi is a new Korean restaurant in Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

The Kimchi

4a Brigg Street, Norwich

Food

I'm clearly not the only one delighted by the news of a Korean restaurant opening in Norwich.

I dismissed rumours it had attracted queues, optimistically turning up on a Wednesday night without a booking, only to be told that I could have the last table going if I came back in 90 minutes.

Away I went, and return I did, hungrier and well and truly ready for some Korean fried chicken.

Kimchi is a new Korean restaurant in Norwich. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodKimchi is a new Korean restaurant in Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Both the garlic and soy and sweet chilli options come in a small portion (£6.60) or large (£13), and are served with a fresh cabbage salad and in a pineapple mayonnaise dressing.

I had high hopes of spicy, crunchy, sweet chicken, and wasn't disappointed. The batter was light and crisp, the chicken incredibly tender and the sauce a balanced mixture of sweet pineapple and salty soy.

On its own, it wasn't spicy, but when dipped in the Gochujang, a Korean red chilli paste (bottles of it are on the counter, and diners are welcome to grab one), it was delicious. A must have.

While everything arrives at once, for our 'main' dishes we'd ordered the Korean barbecue bul-gogi, barbecue beef in a sweet soy sauce marinade, served on a sizzling pan (£8.90), and the kimchi ju-meok bap rice balls (£3.50).

The generous portion of beef was sweet and smokey and, as it continued to cook and parts began to char, became even better as the meal went on.

The rice balls are a DIY addition. It arrives as a bowl of rice and chopped kimchi, and served with nori - sheets of dried seaweed - which you crumble in.

Then, with plastic gloves, you're set loose to craft them into balls.

Restaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The kimchi. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The kimchi. Photo: Lauren Cope

My partner dove in and eagerly (read: nervously) made the first few, but eventually tired of the concept and instead ate it from the bowl (which, as an aside, was lovely - for the price and amount you get, I'd probably recommend having this as a side over regular rice).

I opted for the dol-sot (£8.90), a version of bibim-bap - a healthy rice dish with vegetables and mushrooms - which comes in a sizzling hot stone bowl.

It was a hugely generous portion - plenty of rice, lots of vegetables and enough morsels of sweet, smoky beef to see the dish through.

Served with a few drizzles of Gochujang throughout, it was a great mix of salty, sweet and spicy, and had plenty of bites of crispy rice which had sizzled away at the bottom.

Bowls of kimchi are free (help yourself at the counter), which is a great touch, but it was the only disappointment of the night - it was nice, but less pungent and powerful than hoped.

A great meal though, and we left full and content.

Restaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The Korean fried chicken. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The Korean fried chicken. Photo: Lauren Cope

Setting

Bang in the centre of Norwich, a stone's throw from the market. It's tucked away, hidden up some stairs, but clearly visible from the street.

Ambiance

We visited on a Thursday night and had to book, with a queue forming outside the restaurant as we ate. We didn't feel rushed, though, and the atmosphere was relaxed and lively.

Service

Restaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The kimchi ju-meok-bap rice balls. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The kimchi ju-meok-bap rice balls. Photo: Lauren Cope

Incredibly friendly. The team have clearly been surprised by its instant popularity, and we had lots of apologies for things being slightly slower than usual. If you're planning on visiting The Kimchi with not much time to spare, perhaps wait a few weeks until the initial rush has died down. But we didn't feel the wait was too long, and they were so kind it would have been hard to begrudge it even if so.

Drinks

Soft drinks only, but plenty to choose from - my other half had a very sweet crushed pear juice.

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Accessibility

Restaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The bul-gogi, barbecue beef. Photo: Lauren CopeRestaurant review of The Kimchi restaurant in Norwich. The bul-gogi, barbecue beef. Photo: Lauren Cope

It's upstairs, so not accessible for those with limited mobility. Allergens are clearly marked on the menu.

Toilets

Two cubicles - basic, but clean.

Parking

As usual with city centre, parking on the doorstep is limited. It is well-connected by Norwich's various bus routes, and walkable from the train station. The nearest car parks at the Forum, Chapelfield and John Lewis.

Price

Really good value. The main dishes didn't break £10 and the portion sizes were more than fair. Free kimchi was a nice touch, and for the fried chicken, rice balls, bibim-bap, bul-gogi Korean barbecue, kimchi and two soft drinks, we paid £29.60.

Highlight

The food - and the fact that we now have a good Korean restaurant in our line-up.

In summary

If you're a fan of Korean food, or just fancy trying something new, it's a must-visit. It's good value and has a varied menu, and would make an ideal spot for a meal out with friends and family.

Dishes to try

- The Korean fried chicken - it's one of the classic Korean dishes, and not to be missed. Go for either the garlic and soy or sweet chilli, and get a large. You won't be disappointed. £6.50 for a small and £13 for a large.

- Toppoki - lots of people around us had hot pots, either on their own or to share. I'd definitely try the toppoki next - a popular South Korean dish of rice cakes and fish cakes in a hot and spicy broth. It serves one or two people, for £9.50.

- Jae-yook - if you're a fan of heat, the extra spicy barbecue pork, served with rice, vegetables, mushrooms and a fried egg would be a must have. I loved the beef version. £8.50

If you like that, try these

- Blue Joanna Bar and Kitchen, 103 Unthank Road, Norwich - Nelson's County is in short supply when it comes to Korean restaurants, but this spot offers Asian style street food with plenty of Korean influence, including blue tacos and steak with kimchi.

- The House Thai Restaurant, 2 Queens Road, Norwich - Thai food has arguably overshadowed other cuisines, including Korean, but if you like the spice and punchy flavours of the south-east Asian country, you can't go wrong at House, a popular eatery tucked away in the city centre.

- Vine Tavern, 7 Dove Street, Norwich - Another small restaurant hidden in a Norwich street, the Vine has built up a strong reputation with both real ale lovers and those after authentic Thai dishes.

Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.



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