Either Andrew Wong is ridiculously insightful, or someone breathed into his ear: start a restaurant that cuts a path exactly between the slightly greasy, MSG-laden Chinese food of the high street and the unduly fussy, nouvelle style of fayre offered by Hakkasan. (For the record, I like Hakkasan but the small portions simply don’t work viz. my appetite and my wallet.)
The dark environment of Kym’s, with neon lights and indoor tree feature, creates a kitsch nightspot kind of feel. Like the Thames cityscape by night, it’s inherently attractive and excitement-inducing. I enjoyed sitting at the oval bar, seeing off several ice-cold bottles of Tsingtao, before my table was due.
Their rice crackers (an appetiser in the vein of prawn crackers) were divine – large, crunchy, salty rusks of flavour. Poached, soy-glazed chicken followed, together with the pork dishes of the “three treasure” platter. In all cases, crispy skins sat atop tender, gently-cooked meat. Just a hint of grease was present in the pork in a way that was both pleasant and moisture-giving when heaped with steamed rice. A side of gai lan (broccoli) bore a heady aroma of spices and garlic – another solid dish that was more dependable than standard, local Chinese restaurant fayre and yet gloopy and extroverted enough to entertain the typical British palate.
A real test of the restaurant was bound to be the Peking crispy duck. This is a dish that most covet and few refuse. It surely features in 90% of Chinese takeaways throughout these Isles. Again, Wong hit the mark. Succulent duck in all its five spice glory came diced on a good-sized platter. The thick, bumpy skin was scored, sealed and crisped (like a re-hashed Stevie Wonder song) to perfection. I could have waded through three or four of these platters.
Having seen Wong’s efforts at his eponymous restaurant in Pimlico, this man can (to me) do no wrong. His brand is flourishing, deservedly.
Since writing, Kym’s has started to offer “grab and go”, no doubt catering to the nearby suited and booted working late in their tall, glass offices.
Cost-wise, I felt that £130 all in for quite a few beers, a little wine and a multi-faceted meal, felt like better than average value – especially for the City. I’ll be back at Kym’s later in 2019, for sure.
19 Bloomberg Arcade
This review was published in 2019. Kym’s closed in 2020.
by C Ley