Despite having walked past this restaurant a million times I was ignorant to its existence until, on my way to the gym one week day evening, I was jumped in front of by one of their leaflet wielding employees.
The leaflet described Jijimi as a fine Korean restaurant specialising in Bibimbab, a traditional dish comprising warm white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables (Namual) and chilli paste.
So it was, that on my way back to the station following a particularly lax gym session, I found myself peering a steamed up glass shop front at their MS Office- produced menu which, strangely, did not feature any barbecue dishes.
I had been looking for no more than 30 seconds when a friendly faced gentleman appeared “Korean, tasty food.” he said smiling. “Better than chinese, tastier and healthier too than Thai”. I looked inside, the restaurant was a third full, but its plainness made it unpretentiously welcoming for a quick bite to eat. I was sold and the gentleman showed me to one of the plain pale wood tables featuring a built in barbecue plate.
I was served promptly and ordered a glass of water, as the restaurant Isn’t licensed for alcohol sale, and tempura vegetables to start. Unfortunately, all of the barbecue dishes were red meat which I don’t eat but, on the plus side, when I explained my allergies to the personable waiter he quickly offered to have the chef make a variation on any menu item specifically to accommodate me.
While I waited the short time for my tempura to arrive I hadn’t much to occupy my gaze as the restaurant is very plainly decorated with while walls and no artwork.Instead I was entertained by a nearby table of men taking advantage of the free corkage and bring your own alcohol policy by indulging in several beers.
When it arrived, my tempura was fresh and tasty, although more like fish and chip shop batter than my previous experience of tempura. I also realised I had omitted to ask the waiter for no peppers- yet another of my allergies- so I did have to leave some.
When my main course, a variation on the menu’s chicken in soy with mushroom and onions, arrived I was surprised to see it was not accompanied by rice, given that the waiter had not prompted me to order something to go with it. Despite this I was endeared when the waiter, noticing I hadn’t eaten all of my tempura, told me he would give me the rice for free. All went down fine but I can say little more for it than that.
The most endearing thing about Jijiimi is how hard they are misguidedly trying on the marketing front. As I left, I was hurriedly handed a promotional pen and asked for my email address on requesting a business card, I was given a pack of mini promotional sticky notes (!). They later followed this up with an email written in broken English and promising a discount on my next visit.
In conclusion, it certainly isn’t a celebration of culinary skill, but with a bill coming to £17, I suppose for the area it was reasonable. I’d go back, but only if they expanded their BBQ menu, otherwise, I’d rather just pay a little extra and go to Bincho (Old Compton Street) for some Japanese.