The Asian food scene in Vienna is getting more and more places serving up the exciting flavours of the Korean cuisine. Whether it’s the tender, intensely marinated meat from their brand of BBQ, the bold combinations in the salads, or the tingling flavours in the sauces, Korean cuisine is king this year, and the local ambassador appears to be Kim Sohyi – owner of the Kim Chingu.
When Kim Sohyi, better known by her already established brand “Kim Kocht” opens a new restaurant, you can count on it being 2 things for sure: delicious and immediately popular.
Next to the Kim Kocht restaurant and the Kim Shop selling the celebrity chef’s signature products, Kim added a new venue to the haute-cuisine trilogy just last year: Kim Chingu. “Chingu” is Korean for “friend” and friendliness and familiarity is definitely the vibe one gets when stepping foot into this funky looking establishment.
The centrepiece of the place is an open kitchen, and inside it, a team of neat looking chefs that flash you a warm welcome while juggling pans in the air and (responsibly) setting things on fire.
The friend element also plays a role in the table set-up – you can sit around the open kitchen and watch them whip up your dish. Meanwhile, the option for a romantic dinner for two is there, however, most of the space is taken up by long tables where groups of friends can enjoy the dishes a-la-carte, or opt for a “family-style” served dinner, during which sharing is encouraged (they obviously haven’t met our families).
Our hosts welcome us to our table and bring us a refreshing “greeting from the kitchen,” which is an ice-cold cucumber & chili smoothie, along with the menus. The menu is quite minimalistic and straightforward, yet full of surprising combinations and tastes. The drill here is to first decide whether you’re in a fish, vegetarian, or meat kind of mood. Once you make it this far, you’ll see that not only are the options well put together, but they’re also easy to be mixed and matched with the right appetisers and side dishes.
The staff are very happy to advise, and also show patience when walking us through the spices and ingredients used in the dishes. Even the more simple sounding dishes come beautifully garnished with leafy greens, fresh herbs, sometimes nuts and always exciting sauces, or dressings bursting with flavours.
Our choice of appetiser is a serving of Mandu – traditional Korean wan-tans filled with chicken and served on a bed of salad and chili-vegetables.
You know how sometimes you read a combination and it sounds crazy until you try it and it totally works? Well, you’ll have these moments a lot at Kim Chingu. For the main, we’re adventurous, and add some raw fish into the mix – a tuna-sashimi steak mixed with mango, laid over crunchy dandelion leaves and finished off with a sweet and salty dressing and sesame seeds. And yes, this unexpected combo worked like a charm and almost had us kissing the cook (who we could see right in front of us all the time through the open kitchen).
Straight after this, Kimchi (that spicy Korean sauerkraut) cravings kicked in (as they do when out for Korean) so we ordered the Kimchi Bab –this is bulgogi style marinated beef and a sunny-side up egg laid over a Kimchi fried rice. It warmed our bellies and our hearts and left behind a tingly spice that could only be settled by a sweet, sweet dessert.
While the dessert menu departs from the Korean roots of this restaurant, we didn’t mind one bit when we placed our order – caramel Kaiserschmarrn with stewed fruit, and a unique take on a nougat Panna Cotta.
For Kimchi cravings, or when looking for a place to chow down on some fancy looking and flavoursome food, Kim Chingu delivers on both fronts, and makes for an interesting eating out experience.