Kym’s, London EC4: restaurant review
We try Iberico pork char siu, soft bao buns stuffed with spiced lamb and refreshing sake spritzes at this modern Chinese restaurant
Looking for restaurants in East London? Read our review of this modern Cantonese restaurant, and check out more suggestions for eating out in London here.
Kym's in a nutshell: The latest restaurant from chef and restaurateur Andrew Wong, Kym’s takes a modern approach to the traditional roasted meats and flavours of China.
Londoner Andrew Wong was born to Chinese parents and has been in the restaurant game since the ’80s – his family’s first Cantonese restaurant, Kym’s, opened in Pimlico on the site that now houses (Michelin-starred) A Wong. Having trained in classical French cookery, as well as Chinese roasting, the ancient art of Peking duck, and dim sum, Andrew’s latest venture is a nod to his past, and a modern exploration of the diverse gastronomic regions of China and the ancient crafts they’ve become famous for.
What's the vibe?
Millennial pink menus and a towering fake blossom tree clash happily with moody metals and dark woods in this fresh new restaurant in the critically acclaimed Bloomberg Arcade. Choose between crowding into booths or at-the-pass counter dining and expect to fight for space and attention with the rowdy City boys a location like this attracts. (We also spotted some of London’s top chefs checking out the competition, too.)
What's the food like?
The menu is broken down into a selection of small plates, fritters, sharing plates, classics, sides and sweets. The idea is to order across the lot and expect them to come whenever chef says so.
From the small plates, silken tofu, cubed and bathing in a dark, garlic-infused soy sauce, with crispy shallots, mellow rounds of spring onion greens, intense hits of 100-year-old egg (better than it sounds) and toasted sesame seeds, is a bowl of umami joy. Sichuanese aubergine, too, is a dream – silky, collapsing hunks of the bulbous fruit are a delicious sponge for the pleasantly numbing spice this region is so renowned for.
We hear the rice cracker with 1908 ketchup is a must-order; but, we move onto a peppery pickled daikon, sunshine yellow, made brighter yet by another fiery chilli oil, bleeding out its flavoursome orange hue.
There’s crispy duck that tempts but a Xian City ‘lamb burger’ and Three Treasure serving of crispy pork belly, soy chicken and Iberico pork char siu catch our attention. They live up to their promise, too. The former arrives as a DIY slider – pillowy soft bao buns ready to be stuffed with pleasingly sloppy, spiced pulled lamb and a refreshing salad of sliced onion, pomegranate and herbs. The meats – tender flesh, crisp skins, sublimely seasoned – prove Andrew’s tour of China to learn his craft, was well spent.
And the drinks?
The cocktails here are similarly modern twists on traditional flavours – Japanese spirit shochu is blended with sichuan pepper into a sour; sake is topped with riesling vermouth, lemongrass and prosecco for a supremely refreshing spritz. The wine list is kept short and sweet – we try a crunchy Assyrtiko Lyrarakis from Crete, and it does its job, standing up to all those intense flavours across this cracking menu.
olive tip: Skip the desserts unless you’ve a particular sweet tooth, and instead order a bowl of the Uyghur fries – matchstick potato fries seasoned with tangy mango powder, Thai shallots and carmine-red dried chillies, flabby from their frying. (Another tip, if you like the sound of Uyghur cuisine, created by Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang region, head to Etles in Walthamstow for fiery sauces heavy with sichuan pepper and silky hand-pulled noodles.)
Kym’s, 19 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR
Words by Laura Rowe