Rubbish BBQ weather again? That doesn't matter at Kintan!
Kintan, Holborn Review
With branches in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Jakarta Kintan’s opening in London is the first of it’s kind – a Yakiniku, literally meaning ‘grilled meat’, is the Japanese take on the Korean barbecue and one of the most popular dining styles in Japan.
We were invited to check it out and enjoy dinner on the house and first impressions were good as we entered the dimly lit reception area. The decor is a mix of modern industrial and Japanese minimal elegance and it was surprisingly busy for a Monday night with a fair amount of Japanese diners, which is generally a good sign.
The grill is sunk in to the table (as you’d expect if you’ve been to any Korean BBQ joints) but here, the smoke and fumes are sucked down in to the floor rather than extracted up.
At Kintan, Happy Hour is between 17:30 – 19:00 from Monday – Friday with certain drinks at £3 so we ordered both the Shochu cocktails on the menu. Antonia’s Calpico Chu-Hi was lovely but I didn’t think much of my Oolong Chu-Hi, which seemed nothing more than a glass of cold, slightly bitter tea.
We also had a bottle of Mio Sparkling Sake (£15). I didn’t realise sparkling sake existed but it’s definitely something I’d order again. Very refreshing and light, with a soft sake flavour to stand it apart from other sparkling wines. Stunning.
On to food, we ordered the Kintan Course set menu for 2, which is a rather steep £39.50 a head. The benefit being that you get a bunch of signature dishes and it works out cheaper than ordering them separately from the a la carte.
Our starters of Edamame, Miso Soup, Kintan Salad, brilliantly named Tuna Tartar Volcano and Garlic Fried Noodles all came first and all underwhelmed with the exception of the salad, which had a lovely soy, mustard, miso dressing. The noodles were very bland and uninspiring with hardly any veg or meat and the tuna tartar was served on a dense block of fried rice that tasted like a savoury doughnut. Off to a bad start.
Then came the meat. Lots of meat.
The Fillet Mignon, marinated in Yuzu Ponzu and the Garlic Tiger Prawns were first to hit the grill. Our very friendly waitress from New York advised on cooking times, which were all very safe. We ignored them and cooked by eye. Next came plates of thinly sliced and beautifully marinated Premium Kalbi Short Rib with Tare sweet Soy, Harami Skirt Steak with Miso and (bizarrely) two chunky slabs of Halloumi.
The tables need a tweak as the grill is so hot that you have to lean back to stop your face melting. My ginger-skinned friend Tom would probably leave with 3rd degree burns so I’d advise wearing nothing more than a t-shirt while the grill’s on.
The prawns were lovely and juicy and all the meat was delicious. Luckily Antonia didn’t have much of an appetite so I gladly over-indulged on the fatty Short Rib and Skirt Steak, which were both melt-in-the-mouth tender and full of flavour. However, delicious as it all was, we really could have done with some vegetables to go with the meat courses and as this was a set menu, I’m surprised there were none included.
The BBQ course was impressive and cheered me up after the disappointing round of starters however, dessert was a return to mediocrity as a single scoop of generic ice cream so I can’t say the set menu is good value for money. Ordering off the a la carte has got to be the way to go at Kintan where you can replace the boring starters with have things like Gyoza, Takoyaki and Chicken Karaage then hit the BBQ section. After all, at Kintan – you’re the chef!
On the whole, I enjoyed our dinner at Kintan. The ambience and service was good and I’d happily come back, but I’ll be ordering a la carte if I do. Whatever you order, it’s going to be a pricey meal so make sure you order carefully but make sure you try the delicious sparkling sake!
The grill worked really well and it’s definitely a fun experience cooking your own food at the table although it does mean there’s a chance of ruining your meal and having no one to blame but yourself!
|Kintan Course x 2||£39.50 each|