A Korean Experience at Kimchee
Thinking about how you can spend some quality time with family or a group of close buddies? Well, give Korean Barbecue a try. This TNM issue, we’re featuring Kimchee, a Korean restaurant that knows how to bring you all the goodies from Seoul. You’ll be surprised to know that there’s more to Korean food than just the Korean Barbecue set and Kimbaps.
Let’s go on to see what Kimchee has in store for us.
For our first Korean dish, we started off with the Samgyeopsal set. The Samgyeopsal set is what you’d order when you want to experience Korean Barbecue. With the Samgyeopsal set, the meat you’ll be getting is pork belly which is arguably the 10x better than bacon. With Kimchee’s Samgyeopsal set, you’ll be getting a huge list of items like pork belly, lettuce, black soy sauce, Gaji (fried egg plant), fried eggs, cabbage kimchi, cucumber and radish pickle, garlic and chili, pepper and oil scallions, and Doenjang sauce. All of these from what I’ve noticed were really fresh and you can tell that there’s quite a bit of effort put into quality. The lettuce here are some of the freshest I’ve seen in the industry. The Pork belly’s the finest and most delicious treat.
Among my favorites are the black soy beans, which in my opinion has to be the best sides in this set. You are overwhelmed with sweetness then comes the beany texture. Then the traditional and popular Cabbage Kimchi is something that waters the mouth just by the thought of it. The fried egg comes with an assortment of veggies and I would recommend to have it with the Doenjang sauce. The garlic and chili add flavor to the lettuce wraps along with the pepper and oil which makes a great dipping. Scallops were prepared with vinegar which hits you with a sour taste that scrunches your face involuntarily. It’s actually good fun to see your friends go through that. The Gaji tastes more like meat and has a mushroom like texture. The veggies are good. I don’t normally like cucumber anything but for this, I’ll make an exception.
HOW TO HAVE KOREAN BBQ?
First, cook the meat. The Samgyeopsal set comes with pork belly strips that is actually easy to cook. Once you see the meat turn brown and is at that point where it’s just about to char, flip it to the other side. If cooking yourself intimidates you, don’t worry, the staff there are more than happy to help you prepare the Korean Barbecue.
The brief period you wait for it to cook, you can help yourself with the side dishes.
So, to start off with your Korean Barbecue experience, you take the lettuce and select the various side dish items that you want to put in your lettuce wrap. E.g. you can put the cabbage kimchi, the pork belly strip, garlic, and the sauce.
Remember, the lettuce wrap is supposed to be eaten in a single bite. So, make a compact and tasty wrap for yourself rather than trying to fill it up with the entire table. It’s not supposed to be a burrito.
Another technique is you can stuff the different items in your mouth directly instead of wrapping them at first.
The Dolsot Bibimbap is basically the Korean’s rice set. It usually comes with egg and chicken like the one we received. However, the main distinction from a regular Bibimbap is that they use a stone bowl to serve it. This was quite impressive since I felt like I was literally eating traditional Korean Bibimbap. Warning: the dish is really heavy!
Bibimbaps are considered to be dishes that are on the healthier side, and more importantly, are delicious! Here’s a small guide; although you have a neatly presented assortments of tasty ingredients, you will have to mix them. It’s the combination of their flavors that makes a Bibimbap what it is so you’ll mix them until all the flavors have been spread evenly. Mix the Gochujang sauce to add some sweet punch to the flavor.
The Dolsot Bibimbap also comes with seaweed soup which tastes delicious and is something to try if you’re new to Korean food.
The Jjajangmeon is a noodle dish that is traditional to Korea. The one we received is the vegetarian Jjajangmeon, and quite frankly has a taste and feel that I’m unaccustomed to. It was creamy in texture unlike the more common oily and runny textures in chowmein and soup noodles which most of us are used to. The sauce which is imported is bitter but is light. The diced cucumber and carrots have a faint presence; however, I think voiding them from the Jjajanmeon would eliminate the entire experience. Strangely enough, I just wanted to have more and more of it with every chow down. It’s probably the after taste that instigated this.
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN
The Korean Fried Chicken isn’t what you’d typically order in a Korean Restaurant, but if you’re a fan of crispy fried chickens with a little extra something, then this is exactly what you should go for. Glazed with the Gochujang sauce and sprinkled with sesame seed, the chicken is deep fried to a beautiful golden color and the first bite presents a burst of flavors where the that sauce takes prominence. The crunch is light but it is the subtleness of that bite which makes it worthwhile to eat. The presence of the fresh vegetable sides is much appreciated where it serves as a break from all the fried crunchiness.
WORDS BY SHAQUILLE S. GHOTANE PHOTOGRAPHED BY GUARAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR