Looking for Some Hot Stuff

Columns Ono, You Know

November 11, 2012

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

Korea’s pickled condiment kim chee is heating up here at home and across the globe. There’s just something about Korean fermented cabbage that hooks you at first bite, and believe me, it’s habit-forming. Kim chee is a permanent item in my fridge, meaning there’s always a bottle on hand to satisfy those 2 a.m. persistent cravings. Now, kim chee goes with just about everything, but my ideal pairings include kim chee with a bowl of hot, steamed rice and egg.

It also goes perfectly with barbecue meat and a bowl of ramen, not to mention fried rice. OK, I digress, but you get the point.

However, in Korea, kim chee is a national obsession, and it was on my trip to Seoul a few years back when I fell even deeper in love with this delicious dish. In fact, in Seoul you’ll even find a museum dedicated to this hot stuff.

So, without further ado, let’s explore the realms of kim chee at a few Ono, You Know hot spots around town where I’m sure you and your appetite will experience a renewed zest for life.

Million Restaurant

Let’s count the 1 million reasons why we love Million Restaurant on Sheridan Street.

First of all, it’s the place to go when you’re in the mood for traditional Korean fare and secondly, whether it’s the highest quality kal-bi, barbecue chicken, or the flavorful banchan (side dishes) that you’re after, Million never disappoints.

Owned and operated by sisters Cindy and Angela Park, Million is a family-run business that has welcomed patrons since 1989.

Loyal diners love the fact that they can grill their own meats on the yakiniku tables or leave it up to the pros to cook up a fantastic meal.

A standard here, and one that can’t go unnoticed, is Million’s famous homemade kim chee, which Million’s Diana Paik says is as authentic as you can get.

“We serve cucumber kim chee, original kim chee and shredded daikon kim chee as part of our banchan offerings. It’s complimentary with any meal,” she adds. “A plate of daikon kim chee and won bok kim chee is available upon request, and the won bok kim chee can be cooked on the grill if you prefer.”

Of course, red chili pepper is an essential ingredient, but to achieve the best kim chee, Paik shares that it all lies in Million’s secret sauce, which is kept highly under wraps.

“Kim Chee Pancakes also are popular here, and we always make sure that our kim chee is always fresh,” she says.

And just because Million’s kim chee is described as “authentically Korean” doesn’t mean that you’ll be chugging down glasses of water with your mouth on fire. Paik assures that the kim chee isn’t too spicy. It’s all relative, to say the least, but hey, why not spice things up a bit?

Million Restaurant
626 Sheridan St.


Enter into a world of Pacific Rim cuisine at Japengo within Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, and executive chef Sven Ullrich makes it known that this is not your average spot for a “fusion” of flavors. Instead, he keeps it pure and simple by presenting specific types of exotic tastes from certain regions, and makes it a point to not steer away from that responsibility.

So, journey in to Waikiki and make a night out of it at Japengo — open nightly from 5:30 to 10 p.m. — where Japengo Kim Chee Edamame Potato Mash ($8) is an absolute must-try.

Japengo’s Kim Chee Edamame Mash ($8). Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo

“It stays true to Japengo’s sophisticated cuisine that highlights the wonderful array of flavors from the Pacific Rim,” says Laura Van Sciver, director of marketing communications for the resort.

And you’re in for a treat this time around as the dish features Yukon Gold Potatoes and zesty kim chee edamame blended with just the right amount of butter and seasonings. According to chef Ullrich, the dish has perfect garlic undertones, making it an unforgettable one to the palate.

Step it up this Thanksgiving: Sure, traditional mashed potatoes are a mainstay, but trust me, it’s Japengo’s Kim Chee Edamame Potato Mash that will have people talking for a very long time.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa
2424 Kalakaua Ave.

Asahi Grill

Say “Ahhh” as you take in the glorious flavors of Asahi Grill. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Asahi Grill, located on Ward Avenue, is always packed with locals and visitors who want to experience top-notch local fare. Renowned for its oxtail soup, Asahi Grill also boasts other hot items — literally — on its menu including Kim Chee Ramen and Kim Chee Fried Rice — two of my top picks, by the way.

Priced at $6.75, Kim Chee Ramen serves up a bowl of shoyu ramen kicked up a notch with a mound of homemade kim chee, tender pieces of char siu, morsels of fish cake and a dash of green onions. Then, for $5.75 (small) or $7.25 (regular), get ready to indulge in Kim Chee Fried Rice with two eggs (small comes with one egg) cooked to your liking. The base of this onolicious dish is Asahi Grill’s famous fried rice, which consists of chopped Portuguese sausage, green onions, a drizzle of shoyu and more, mixed with a hefty amount of kim chee.

“Kim Chee Fried Rice has been a longtime favorite of Asahi Grill,” says restaurant manager Victoria Sayno.

“We make our own kim chee twice a month and add garlic, kim chee sauce, hot pepper and salt to the cabbage. It’s really good.”

Are you a kim chee fanatic? If so, you’ll be pleased to know that Asahi Grill’s kim chee also is available a la carte as a side dish for $2.25.

Asahi Grill
515 Ward Ave.

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