|Top - pickled radish, left - kimchi; right - seaweed salad|
Where: Le Kim Chi Restaurant, 420 Preston Street, Ottawa
What: Salad, Goon Mandoo, Bulgogi
Comments: This was my first time at a Korean restaurant. Always on the look-out for tasty food that is easily accessible for a fellow foodie and myself to have lunch (she works near Preston Street). The ingredients found in Korean cuisine, in themselves, are not foreign to me, however, these combinations are. The meals we had were prepared by a caring hand in the kitchen - neat, well put together dishes. They were carefully arranged and looked delicious. I barely had time (or to remember) to snap a photo as each course was presented. The restaurant would almost seem out of place among so many others in Little Italy, but it isn't to me. Any opportunity for someone to offer me a delicious alternative for lunch is always welcome.
I asked the server what was popular and she suggested the Bibimbap and the Bulgogi. My foodie companion chose the former, the latter for myself. While chatting with our server we discovered that it was a Korean holiday and she had been up very early in the morning with her family to indulge in a large feast of many dishes. Her fatigue was well hidden as she served us with a bright smile and a sunny attitude - something I often find lacking in restaurants that seem to want my business.
After we placed our orders, a salad arrived. It was an interesting mix - things I have definitely eaten, but would not have put together in one dish. The flavours were bright and fresh and the perfect start to our meal. The dressing tasted mostly of pineapple and had a creamy texture that was indefinable (by me anyway). I quizzed our server and she did admit to the pineapple, but assured us that there was no dairy in the dressing (a choice made to avoid food allergies for some guests), but she was unwilling to go any further into the description. With a smile, she conceded that it was an Asian vegetable that made it so creamy - this will warrant some investigation on my own.
The dumplings were more flavourful than I have had in a while. The flavours of the pork and chives were very pronounced and not just a muddle of 'meat' flavour. The wrapper was also very thin, which left it possible to enjoy the delicate flavours of the filling. The dumplings were accompanied by a light soy-based dipping sauce - very good and added a nice bit of acid to the dish.
The bulgogi arrived next. It was presented on a hot plate and smelled delicious. I started with the chopsticks, but ended up using a fork (if there is no bowl, I am all thumbs with chopsticks). The beef was very tender with flavours of garlic, soy and sesame easily distinguishable. The vegetables were well seasoned and tender crisp.
I enjoyed my lunch and will return to try the bibimbap that my colleague ate. I was intrigued by the whole egg yolk in the centre, which would no doubt help form a luscious sauce. I also would like to try some other Korean delicacies at their dinner service.