• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Ron Mackenna: Kim's Mini Meals, Edinburgh

The sign above the door says Kim's Mini Meals yet the website says Kim's Korean Meals.

Kim's Mini Meals in Edinburgh serves good-sized portions  of authentic Korean dishes
Kim's Mini Meals in Edinburgh serves good-sized portions of authentic Korean dishes

Are we at the right place? There's a joint sigh on the well-worn coupons of both Gibbo and Goffy as we step out of the car and look at this tiny restaurant which is frankly, umm, not looking too promising.

Loading article content

Outside there's a higgledy-piggledy mix of notices including the dreaded: cash only. We debate detouring to a cashline but luckily the public relations tycoon amongst us has brought some actual, genuine dough.

Inside, it's small and tight with Bach on the stereo, Van Gogh prints on the walls and glossy photographs of food from the menu standing proud on the sideboard. There's the definite feeling we've accidentally wandered into someone's living room.

"The Chinese use bamboo, the Japanese use wood but we prefer stainless steel - more hygenic," says Mr Kim by way of introduction, referring to the shiny chopsticks before us. They're more slippery too, as we'll prove in a minute as three middle-aged men try to eat a rather nice and spicy kimchi omelette without slathering bits of it all over faces, shirts and tablecloth. We fail.

"Royal Doulton," Mr Kim says pointing to the plate the omelette came on. Did I mention it's a little bit eccentric in here? There's one dish the menu promises will be served in a Portmeiron plate. Oh yes, Mrs Kim, apparently came up with the mini meals name. It's because the meals are not mini. It's a joke, says Mr Kim. Geddit? Aah-ha-ha, we say our heads nodding furiously in unison, while not actually gedding it at all. Not even slightly.

Never mind. We are getting a homemade sweetcorn soup which is simple and delicious as are those little plates of free Korean appetisers, spiced mushrooms, delicious shreds of seasoned seaweed, a square of different omelette, the flavours of sesame oils and chilli throughout.

We've ordered some kimbap - or Korean sushi. These are dotted with sesame, filled with flavoured rice and fish sticks and while less full-on than their Japanese counterparts are sweet, crunchy and curiously moreish.

We did, or was it just me, have to stop Mr Kim in full let-me-take-some time-talking-you-through-the-menu-flow. There are actual photographs after all, yet I still end up ordering the one dish I always try to avoid in chopstick land - the sloppy, slurpy, soupy, slithering noodley thing. HOT STONE POT the menu shouted in capitals. So why did I think Osam jjigae was going to sizzle? It doesn't. It bubbles slowly. Or glugs.

After a good few minutes of whirling, twirling, slipping face-slapping uncoolness I remember why I always avoid such dishes. Not only are they very difficult to eat if one is not versed in the proper scoop-fast-into-mouth system but apart from occasional flashes of cabbage, isolated mouthfuls of squid, then some seasoned pork, there ain't much to go on flavour-wise.

Goffy, being a pescatarian, made a far better choice with seafood bulgogi - all marinated squid, mussels and prawn in a fiery yet sweet sauce and served with more of the Korean national dish - kimchi.

The marinated beef bulgogi is the sizzling speciality, richly-flavoured meat steeped in a house-made gochujang paste of chilli, soy and rice; it sparkles with bold flavours.

There's a yoghurt-like pineapple sauce and lettuce leaves to scoop it all up into comforting, filling mouthfuls. Great.

Mr Kim has returned to see if we are enjoying his wife's cooking. The answer is yes. He reveals that he came to Scotland originally as a Christian missionary. We chuckle, not sure if he is being serious.

Kim's Mini Meals seems quirky, weird even, a mish-mash of different styles and decors. But somehow, here in Edinburgh, its oddball manner, eclectic decor and hands-on management seem charming and yet another sign that the capital's seemingly light handed and liberal approach to the restaurant trade is paying off.

Contextual targeting label: 
Food and drink

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

235522