Sibei yandao owner Haden Hee of Kimchi Korean Restaurant has another ingenious concept to revolutionize ways of eating Korean food, a la cai fan style. Brains + Looks = Hot like kimchi. Now you know the origin of his shop name.
Located at the basement of Shaw Centre, within Food Republic food court, the queue at Kimchi Xpress is perpetual, and with good reasons. You choose either white rice or kimchi rice and it comes in a hotstone. Then you choose dishes like cai fan. 3 vegetables for $5.80, 2 veg + 1 meat $7.80. If you want to upgrade to a set to include ginseng chicken soup and kimchi, additional $1.
When you eat, you can either eat it plain or stir in kochujang sauce and turn it into a bibimbap.
And it was tasty, very tasty. The burnt rice added texture, and the hotstone kept the food warm, unlike cai fan. Every dish was done very well and there was variety, including stir-fried zucchini, scrambled egg, kimchi tuna, fishcake, white radish, bulgogi pork, bulgogi beef, bulgogi squid, japchae, yangyeam spicy fried chicken, garlic fried chicken, and dried chili chicken. Definitely order the garlic fried chicken and scrambled egg. The bulgogi squid was great too. Would be better if they can give a raw egg to mix.
But there are 2 issues that are hard to resolve. Firstly, it’s a catch 22 situation. They cannot undercook the meat because the meat has to be put on display. But when the food is placed in the hot stone, meat gets overcooked and hardened, and vegetables become limp. So while the bulgogi squid and beef we had were tasty, they got overcooked. My advice is to go for delicious fried chicken, which won’t be overcooked.
Secondly, although the food is cooked and served by Koreans, the food is somewhat localized. The kimchi, though addictive, was less spicy than Korean kimchi; and the ginseng chicken more Singaporean than Korean. I guess this cannot be helped since the target market is locals.
All in all, this was a very delicious meal, and a very excellent concept. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and predict Kimchi Xpress will be a chain stall in many, many food courts. Kou Fu, and Kopitiam, watch out.
350 Orchard Rd, Shaw House Basement, Food Republic food court, Singapore 238868
Rating: 3.750/5 Kim Soo Hyun
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
ps: although this is a tasting, Haden watched World Cup the night before, and forgot we were coming. We didn’t get to see his handsome face, but this surprise attack means this review is accurate. Thanks, Haden, for asking us.