Kim’s Mini Meals
COVID still runs like a great divide through people’s lives. There is life before and after the pandemic which brought into sharp relief the importance of friends. Sitting around a table sharing food and laughter is a treat to be savoured.
Kim’s Mini Meals was the choice of venue for such a Friday night soiree for five hungry females.
Tragically Mr Kim died during COVID but his dream of bringing Korean home cooking to Edinburgh’s restaurant landscape lives on with Mrs Kim and son running this cute Southside eatery. A Facebook post states it is what he would have wanted for what is now a Michelin Guide recommended restaurant
There are no bookings so you must queue, but I can give you a cast iron guarantee that the food is well worth the wait.
Once inside the décor is a welcoming mix of Korean and 'couthie', glinting steel chopsticks rest on tartan tablecloths.
We squeeze around our table and order soft drinks, open BYO bottles and scan the menu. Cups of homemade Sweetcorn Soup warm us and then Kimchi Jeon arrives. This Korean street food is served in slices like pizza in its country of origin while in Edinburgh a large pancake arrives on a chintzy vintage dinner plate. It contains fermented cabbage, onions and flour, and the crispy fried texture combined with its hot, sweet, and sour taste is addictively delicious.
Meanwhile an Aubergine starter is also devoured with gusto. It has the meltiness of an Italian Parmigiana but, Eleonore observes, the flavour here is sesame. God this food is good, and we have only just begun.
Mrs Kim’s son is quizzed about the food and cooking, but he remains modest as to his mum’s talent in the (presumably miniscule) kitchen and replies “Nothing special, just simple ingredients and traditional recipes”.
It is curious as to why this food is so delicious until you think about umami and fermentation. Kimchi is Korea’s national dish; Napa (Chinese) cabbage is left to ferment with a key ingredient, Gochujang or red chilli paste. The latter gives a distinctive flavour to Korean dishes and during fermentation some sort of micro bacterial magic occurs and the result hits your foodie G-Spot. Wham!
This gastronomic voodoo also lends comfort. Eating Korean home cooking warms the soul and makes you feel safe and happy; it’s food therapy.
For main courses three of us have the Seafood Bulgogi which you can choose to have mild, medium, or spicy. Again, there is Kimchi on the side as well as rice along with the marinated squid, mussels, and prawns. Eleonore has Bmimbap which is a hot stone bowl of rice, kimchi, chilli, vegetables, soy, and egg. You can add meat. Lee has Beef Bulgogi.
There are no desserts on the menu so one of our party brings Sebastian Kobelt’s Autumn Berry chocolates. They are like burgundy jewels in their box and they melt delicately on the tongue before oozing seasonal juiciness. Yes, Vivian’s partner is a world renowned chocolatier.
Spoiler alert – none of the meals are in fact ‘mini’. Portions, even the starters, are very generous as are flavours and service. It transpires that the only thing mini is the bill which at £100 for five people is a steal and there is still plenty of food for doggy bags should you wish them.
It makes me melancholy to think that Mr Kim is no longer with us, but his spirit and legacy live on in this precious little eatery. (S. Wilson)
Kim’s Mini Meals - 5 Buccleuch St, Newington, Edinburgh EH8 9JN
Open 5.30-8.30pm Monday – Saturday. Closed Sunday