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First Impressions of Le Kimchi

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A thank-you to those of our readers who participated in La Vendemmia last week, especially those who tweeted.

Anyone who followed the tweets during the Preston Street Moveable Feast event, you likely had seen mention of diners being lead from restaurant to restaurant, sampling some of the best Ottawa’s Little Italy neighbourhood has to offer. One of the stops was Le Kim Chi (420 Preston Street), a Korean Restaurant.

The foodiePrints team visited Le Kim Chi during the week leading up to La Vendemmia.

Let me start out by saying Jenn and I highly recommend Le Kim Chi, but it won’t be our regular “go-to” for Korean food. How does this work? Le Kim Chi succeeds where North American-catering Asian food restaurants fail. Its menu gently introduces authentic Korean staples, flavours, and textures. But, it serves good food. There is no fusion here, no confused juxtaposition of cultures to pander to clientele, no stereotypes. There is however downplayed heat and approachable dishes.

You will not find jjamppong (a classic spicy soup noodle dish with seafood and vegetables) here.

jjamppong

jjamppong

As served by Koreana (711 Somerset Street W., Ottawa), $9.95
[and yes, Koreana is owned and operated by the same family that used to run Seoul House on Somerset]

You will not find gamjatang (a spicy pork bone soup made with pork back bones, usually spine, vegetables, and potatoes, garnished with green
onions and coriander seeds).

gamjatang

gamjatang

As served by Song Cooks Dolsot Korean Restaurant (6-72 Steeles Avenue W., Thornhill, Ontario), $14

You will not find naengmyeon (a handmade buckwheat noodle dish with vegetables and black bean sauce, served cold)

naengmyeon

naengmyeon

As served by Incheon House Korean & Japanese Restaurant (9 Gren Watfort Drive, Scaroborough, Ontario)

These are three dishes we like to see on a Korean restaurant’s menu.

What you will find is bibimbap, a hot rice dish with vegetables, bits of meat (unless vegetarian), red chili sauce, and an optional egg yolk, made-to-order with very fresh ingredients.

bibimbap

bibimbap

The one our wine blogger was served was vegetarian ($12.95). It included lightly cooked zucchini, sauteed mushrooms, blanched bean sprouts, and nori. Our very friendly and helpful server demonstrated how to mix bibimbap the “traditional way.” Accordingly, Claire wasn’t “aggressive” enough with her steaming bowl of rice and fixings. Vigorous mixing cooks the egg yolk, which she opted for, and integrates the flavourful chili sauce. Claire thoroughly enjoyed her dish.

You will find galbi ($20.95), thinly sliced, marinated, and grilled beef short ribs, finished with a fruit sweet Korean barbecue sauce.

Galbi and bibimbap are “usual suspects” when first dinging Korean. Claire’s daughter, who had already developed quite the affinity for kimchi (preserved and spiced cabbage), seemed to enjoy her galbi, eating it with rice, the various banchan (vegetable side dishes), and leaving not a morsel on her plate.

banchan

banchan

You will find galbi jjim, tender braised beef short ribs, seasoned with a sake, ginger, and soy sauce.

galbi jjim

galbi jjim

According to its menu, Le Kim Chi is the only restaurant in Ottawa to serve jjim. Slow cooked with something sweet, something nutty, and something gingery, the meat on the ribs came off the bone easily. Sweet and savoury, it was delicious, paired with rice and kimchi.

You will find dulucheegee ($15.95), stir fried pork and vegetables with house-made hot and sweet chili sauce.

dulucheegee

dulucheegee

Our server mused, the dulucheegee was the spiciest dish on the menu. Everyone at our table remarked the heat seemed intended to accentuate flavours, the savouriness of the beef and the sweetness of the onions and red bell pepper. It was not overpowering.

Appetizer-wise, you will find one of the best pa jeon ($11.95) Jenn and I have ever had in Ottawa.

pa jeon

pa jeon

Pa Jeaon is a seafood pancake, made with squid, shrimp, scallions, and vegetables. Not only was Le Kim Chis’ generous in seafood morsels, but, while crispy and crunchy, it was not at all greasy.

Menu-wise, while there is some romanized Korean on the menu, mostly names of dishes, it is almost entirely written in English. Detailed descriptions follow each dish, along with numerous photos. Prices are slightly higher than those at the Dolsot Cafe (512 Bank Street) and Chinatown’s Koreana (711 Somerset Street W).

Restaurant-wise, Le Kimchi retains much of the outward decor of what we presume was the previous restaurant in the space, Angelina’s. There is a balance struck between an influx of oriental decor and what was formerly an Italian restaurant.

Mixture of Cultures

Mixture of Cultures

This harmony is exemplified in the distinctly Asian landscapes inside the brick arches that reminded us of the mouths of wood ovens.

Family-owned and operated, the staff at Le Kim Chi are very patient. They explain how a Korean meal works. They recommend various dishes, answering questions as they arise. They smile, available to assist when needed, but otherwise unobtrusive to the meal.

If you are a new initiate to Korean food, Le Kimchi is a prefect place to make an introduction.

Jenn, Claire, Lil’ foodiePrints, and I greatly enjoyed our meal.

Particulars:
Le Kim Chi
420 Preston Street
(613) 233-2433

Le Kim Chi on Urbanspoon

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.

Comments

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