Review: Korean Grill Kensington

Review: Korean Grill Kensington

If you’re a fan of Korean cuisine, there’s a new restaurant that should be on your radar. Angela Zaher checks it out…

KGK, Korean Grill Kensington, housed in the Millennium Hotel, serves traditional Korean food in a contemporary and elegant setting.

It’s all about the three B’s at KGK:  bulgogi, bibimbap and barbecue. We went for lunch when there’s a good value set menu for £25 which covers the first two comprehensively. The dinner menu is dominated by the third, barbecue: the novelty of barbecuing your own dinner at your table never wears off, as entertaining for a 10-year-old as it would be for someone aged 70.

There are three set menu options and we chose the bulgogi (thin slices of beef marinated and grilled on a barbecue), sot bap (pot rice), jeongshik (which means a prix fixe set meal) and the dolsot (stone pot) beef bibimbap (mixed rice). Both start with a delicious pajeon- scallion pancake, hot off the pan, the ideal thickness and grease free. Then it’s miso soup before the bulgogi arrives alongside an array of small banchan plates containing fermented or pickled vegetables including kimchi, cucumber and spinach and a bowlful of fluffy rice. The other main is wheeled in on a trolley with the stone pot on top of it. This has the rice at the bottom with the beef, sautéed vegetables and banchan sitting on top. The star of the bibimbap; the raw egg yolk, takes pride of place in the middle of this bowl and is then mixed up to get that dreamy crispy and rich texture characteristic of this dish.

The lunch menu includes a dessert, only described as a “seasonal dessert”. For me, this was the highlight of the meal. It consisted of a puffed rice bar (yeot gangjeong) and a Korean rice cake (injeolmi) both sitting in a puddle of just sweet enough sauce that’s made from sesame. The sauce has a peanut buttery flavour which ties both the bar and cake up perfectly. Served with a cup of soojungwa (cold cinnamon and ginger drink garnished with pine nuts), it’s just a perfect dessert, in size and stature. I have a bias towards peanut butter and cinnamon so this was predisposed to be a hit but even that aside, it was a clever intermingling of bold and delicate flavours with crunchy and spongy textures. Quite playful too, as you felt you were having a playground snack served in a very grown-up and artful way.

To drink, we tried soju for the first time, a type of Korean vodka made from fermented grains. KGK has an extensive menu of different flavoured ones, distilled from grapes, grapefruit and plums but my favourite by far was a mix introduced by Tommy Kim, the brains behind this operation with a stellar hospitality CV spanning from New York to London and many places in between. He suggested a soju bomb, called somaek in Korean, consisting of 70% beer, 30% plain soju. I have always felt beer leaves a bitter aftertaste so tend to avoid it, but coupled with soju, it takes that edge off and gives the beer a very welcome boost.

Currently, KGK is on soft launch but opening widely imminently and definitely worth a visit. I suspect many will, so book early!

4-18 Harrington Gardens, London SW7 4LH