CheeMc: Korean Comfort Food In South London
The Walworth Road in south London is not known for its selection of excellent restaurants. A long, traffic-chugging stretch from Elephant to Camberwell, it has been regarded by many as an endurance test rather than a destination. The regeneration of Elephant can only mean improvement for the area though, and it turns out things are looking up already: hello, CheeMc.
The focus here is on Korean fried chicken, in the main. That means twice-fried, extra crisp chicken pieces, seasoned and served with different sauces. There is a big difference between American-style fried chicken and Korean, which is that the latter doesn't have a craggy ‘chicken-shop style’ coating; instead it is lighter and thinner.
Ever up for a good time, we ordered a bottle of Korean rice spirit called soju (£8). This is, apparently, one of the most widely sold alcoholic drinks in the world, and after we drain a bottle between two, we’re convinced that the popularity is deserved. The next day? Not so much.
Still, the best method for soaking up booze is eating fried things, as everyone knows, and so it’s with gleeful spirits we receive our order of ‘half and half’ — a whole chicken, but with two flavourings — we chose half with garlic sauce and half fried simply and finished with the largest tangle of spring onions known to woman (£17).
The onion-topped chicken is oddly plain, and we’d skip it again in favour of another, but the garlic sauced version is magnificent. You’ll smell it coming from the other side of the restaurant, very much in the way that people will smell you coming for a week after you’ve eaten it. There's a lot of garlic in that sauce, but the burny, sulphurous edge is tamed by sugar, and we unceremoniously slurp it from the bones before scalding our tongues on the still-too-hot chicken. We calm ourselves by popping cubes of very good pickled radish between bites, which comes with the fried chicken as standard.
Kimchi (£5) is pretty run of the mill, nothing to get excited about, but the surprise dish of the night was the cheese ramen (£6). One for the (cough) extra discerning diner, it’s a bowl of instant style noodles with two slices of what we like to refer to as ‘slappy cheese’ melting on top. We’re talking bright orange ‘burger cheese’ here, of the kind one finds in the corner shop. It’s a guilty pleasure this dish, but we couldn’t get enough of it, to the point where one of us beadily kept tabs on the other’s eating as we waited in line for the loo. This would be, we imagine, the perfect dish to cure a hangover. Drink enough of that suju and you’ll be able to go and find out for yourself.
Our verdict? CheeMc is a fun little restaurant serving good Korean comfort food. Do remember to take some cash with you though, as their card machine seems to work only sporadically.CheeMc, 310 Walworth Road, London, SE17 2TG.
Last Updated 31 July 2015