Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a mild obsession with anything East Asian, especially Korean and Japanese culture (well I say culture, and I mean it, but I also mean food). Currently my bank balance will not allow for adventures in the far east so I have to quench my desires with occasional trips to oriental restaurants. Trust me I am well aware that the majority of Chinese/Japanese/Korean food in this country has been westernised. However the promise of kimchi cult was one I could not pass up.
To my knowledge kimchi cult started as a London pop up Street food stall before making it’s way north to the much cooler city of Glasgow. They now have small premises just off Byres road, a very clever move in my opinion what with the crowds of ravenous students that flock to those streets every day. The proprietors spent some time living in Korean and this place was born from their love of the food and culture. The last time Nick tried to give my kimchi fix the place turned out to be closed for refurbishment. Finally, 5 months after I found out about it, I got my first (and definitely not my last) taste of Kimchi Cult.
Like I said the premises is small, it’s mainly designed to be a collection only takeaway (although I’m sure delieveroo will be contacting them any day now with the offer of delivering for them) just 3 two seater tables are available (although each can accommodate 3 because of the benches) and 2 window seats. There were three of us and we decided to eat in, so we waited about 10 or 15 minutes for a table. Not too shabby considering how popular this place seems to be.
The menu is simple. Burgers with a Korean twist, bao, bibimbap, fries with a Korean twist, Korean fried chicken, and a few sides.
Nick decided on a portion of Korean fried chicken with a sweet gochugang (a red pepper paste) sauce and kimchi fries.
The Korean chicken was outstanding. The batter was light and ever so crispy despite being drenched in the delicious sweet and spicy sauce. The sauce had slight sesame notes to it which I thoroughly enjoyed, and the chicken itself was incredibly tender and succulent. The kimchi fries were great: crispy, cheesey, and spicy. What more could you want. If you’ve never had kimchi before it is a staple dish in Korea. Made from fermenting cabbage with chilli paste and ginger, it’s eaten with almost every meal. The older it gets the more funky It becomes, younger kimchi tends to be more fresh and gingery. Kimchi Cult are closed on a Sunday and Monday whilst the staff busy themselves with preparing their next batch of homemade kimchi.
Sheetal and I both decided on the dolstot bibimbap with slow cooked pork.
Bibimbap is to Korea what ramen is to Japan. Consisting of a rice base topped with meat, vegetables, gochuchang paste, and a raw egg. Dolsot bibimbap is served in a stone pot that has been heated on a gas burner. DO NOT TOUCH THAT POT! The heat of the bowl is phenomenal. The idea is to mix together some of your rice and toppings, whilst leaving the outmost 1/2 cm rice undisturbed. This lets the rice touching the bowl get super crispy, adding great texture to the dish later on in the meal.
We (well by we I mean I) ordered 2 bao which came with the banchan of the day.
Banchan is a selection of side dishes served with Korean meals. Youll usually get between 3 and 12 in traditional Korean restaurants. The number you get is incredibly significant and symbolic. At kimchi cult just one banchan is give, and the day I visited I believed it was a radish kimchi. Bao are not typically Korean, they’re more a Chinese or Vietnamese dish. It’s a rice dumplings or pancake filled with a delicious concoction. Filling and incredibly satisfying. I picked the bulgolgi beef, and a fried tofu one. The bulgolgi beef was delicious, seasoned to perfection and deliciously balanced between sweet and savoury flavours. I was not a fan of the tofu, I think the texture was a little odd for my palette when combined with the soft sticky bao.
I would definitely recommend visiting Kimchi Cult. I will be going again next time I am up, there’s just too much to try in one sitting. The prices are great, everything we ordered came to about £35 (including drinks). They have some great lunch time deal as well.
For more information about Korean food and culture I recommend you take a trip over to Simon and Martina on YouTube and their blog. This is how I really got into the idea of Korean culture and food, and their videos are great.