Of all the foods I love to eat, Chinese food has probably got to be my favourite. It being the most populous nation on earth it comes it many different forms, but I tend to love them all. Having been to Hong Kong twice this year I am a big fan of the Cantonese variety. However despite Korea being in rather close proximity to China, it is one of the hardest foods to find done well here, probably because there are so many varieties of different dishes and when you take it internationally the dishes always metamorphose to adapt the local taste. However, I digress. Cantonese food has always been pretty hard to find, which was why I was exceedingly excited when I heard that the team from Manimal / Motor City were opening up a new Chinese joint. I usually try to shy away from reviewing on soft openings, but I was just too excited to wait to try this.
Kiki Chanting is located in the back alleyways of Itaewon along where Nekkid Wings and Linus BBQ are found. As previously mentioned they are still in their soft opening phase, but the menu is quite vast with only a few side dishes not being served yet. There are plenty of noodle dishes, which are one thing I tend to miss and then the typical BBQ meat and rice combos you would find anywhere on the streets of Hong Kong.
The dish I was most excited to try was the BBQ Charsiu (9,300). When it arrived it seemed quite promising, and with a price I though pretty reasonable and similar to what we paid in Hong Kong. The charsiu pork was served on a bed on rice with some bokchoi and half a salt egg, which is pretty much how it was served in Hong Kong. I thought the meat portion was generous but when I bit into it, it wasn’t soft. Usually charsiu is melt in the mouth tender. The outer flavour was not bad, there was a nice mix of spices, though I thought it would have been a touch on the sweeter side. As I said they are still in the soft opening phases so I was happy to relay my opinions. I would be very interested to try the chicken and pork belly versions. I know from my visits to Manimal they are able to make some incredible tender melt in the mouth meat so it’s a case of tinkering.
We also ordered the the Blackbean Chicken over Rice (10,000). I don’t think I have ever eaten black bean chicken in China so I can’t compare it to that, but it is a popular enough dish back home in the UK which I have had many times, though I usually tend to order the beef variety. We all thought this was rather tasty, the flavour of the sauce had that distinct Chinese-y taste (if thats a word). There was also a good mix of chicken and vegetables. As we liked it so much we decided to order the Blackbean Chicken Chow Mein (10,000) too. The noodle version disappeared instantly and we all preferred this version over the rice. One small gripe was that the noodles were rather clumped together which made it a bit hard to eat, especially since we were sharing, but I wouldn’t let it put me off ordering it again.
I love egg noodles so seeing a couple of dishes on the menu that included them was a very exciting prospect as they are not really very common here, and the only place I have ever managed to buy them is at the foreign food mart in Itaewon. So of course we had to try the Singapore Noodles (10,000) too. Again this is a dish that I have only eaten in a takeaway back home, and for me it was quite different from the UK version which usually calls for rice noodles. While I rather enjoyed the addition of the egg noodles, I found it a touch on the spicy side for me. It was not too disimilar to the black bean except for the heat, so it is probably a matter of taste as to which you will prefer. I would love to see them do a very simple chow mein dish in the future as it is one thing I always lust after, especially when hungover.
We were hoping to try some of the side dishes but they were sadly out of the rice rolls and the egg drop soup, so we ordered the Stir Fried Kailan & Bok Choy (6,800) instead. This was absolutely spot on. The sauce was heavenly and addictively good. We also got a couple of their giant Tsingtao beers (8,000) to wash our dinner down which really rounded out the meal, though i would love them to put an ice lemon tea on the menu as it is the drink I most associate with this kind of restaurant.
Overall I’m excited at the prospect at having a Cantonese restaurant on my doorstep, the prices were good with most dishes being around 10,000, though more if you want extra meat. In my opinion some of the dishes need work but it’s a great start and if it becomes popular we will see a lot more of this food which is only a good thing. I’ll certainly be stopping by again soon to try some of the other dishes, and look forward to it being available for delivery on Shuttle.
Kiki Chanting is located at 174-4 Noksapyeong Daero, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong Station (line 6), and come out of exit 3. Walk straight until you reach the crossing and go over twice until you reach Itaewon. Go down the first alleyway that will be in font of you. You will see Kiki Chanting a little way down just ahead on the right hand side. For more information you call them on 02-797-0990 or check out their facebook page. They are everyday except Tuesdays from 11am -10pm.