In Need of a Kim Chee Kick

Columns Ono, You Know

April 27, 2014

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Tell me, is there a bug going around? Because I feel as if I’m coming down with something. Not good. With no time to be ill, I need a major pick-me-up — something to get me out of this funk and kick me into high gear. With my energy level at almost empty, I talked myself out of feeling under the weather, and figured if anything, kim chee will do the trick and lead to a speedy recovery. Labeled as a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings, this spicy condiment has the reputation to clear sinuses and add a little kick to your step. And when paired with a substantial meal of fried rice, ramen or fried noodles, you will hopefully feel better in no time.

This week, at the following Ono, You Know establishments, I relied on a quick fix of kim chee hot stuff to take on the week. And while symptoms of fever, sore throat and body aches may get the best of me, hunger is not one of them!

Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant

Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant is just what the doctor ordered. One dose of comfort food coming right up! Enter Kim Chee Nabe ($19.95-$28.95). As the piping hot pot is presented at the table, warm steam rises permeating the restaurant with alluring aromas of rich broth, meat, seafood and more.

Owner Issei Kazama speaks highly of the hearty broth played up with kim chee spice. Flavorful indeed, the broth is served with a platter of fresh vegetables, a cube of salmon, tofu, shrimp and pork. As with other main entrees on the menu, Kim Chee Nabe also comes with a bowl of rice and noodles.

And if pork doesn’t tickle your fancy, then select from ribeye, short rib and seafood, among others.

If you can withstand the heat of this moderately spicy broth, then I’m sure you’ll agree that this particular hot-pot dish tops the nabe list. You’ll also be pleased to know that a side of kim chee is an added bonus.

So, if you’re not feeling 100 percent, say goodbye to the chills and warm up with Ichiriki’s Kim Chee Nabe. Trust me, it won’t disappoint.

Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant
510 Piikoi St. #102 (and various locations)

Big City Diner

ig City Diner's Grandma's Incredible Kim Chee Fried Rice ($8.99)

ig City Diner’s Grandma’s Incredible Kim Chee Fried Rice ($8.99)

Where do I go when I want to do some serious damage to my figure and eat like there’s no tomorrow? Big City Diner (BCD), of course. The portions here are huge, and while it may be overwhelming for some, I say, “Bring it!” I’m all for digging into BCD’s signature Grandma’s Incredible Kim Chee Fried Rice ($8.99), a combination of white or brown rice, eggs, white and green onions, chunks of Portuguese sausage, diced char siu, green peas and kim chee pan-fried with oyster sauce and shoyu.

Devouring this hot commodity is serious business, so much so that you’ll literally need a nap when you’re done. Yes, BCD’s Kim Chee Fried Rice will cause a kanack attack — but come on, this entree is rich, bold, beautiful and so worth it!

And to give Kim Chee Fried Rice some serious competition is Kim Chee Fried Min Noodles. For $9.99, slurp up a pile of Japanese fried noodles glorified with an array of ingredients, including kim chee, char siu, Portuguese sausage, ham, egg, cabbage, onion and bean sprouts stir-fried in BCD’s special sauce.

Things are about to get spicy at Big City Diner!

Big City Diner
98-211 Pali Momi St. #900 (and various locations)

Asahi Grill

Asahi Grill's Kim Chee Fried Rice ($7.50 regular, $5.95 small) Leah Friel file photos

Asahi Grill’s Kim Chee Fried Rice ($7.50 regular, $5.95 small) Leah Friel file photos

Local-kine good eats are synonymous with Asahi Grill, an award-winning establishment best known for it’s home-cooked Island-style fare with a generous amount of Asian influence. Located on Ward Avenue, this 50-seat eatery is filled with kamaaina and tourists alike who can’t wait to get their hands on their favorites.

While the menu offers many onolicious options to choose from, my No. 1 pick is more often than not Kim Chee Fried Rice ($7.50 regular, $5.95 small). Asahi Grill’s fried rice is already awesome as is, but add to that homemade kim chee, chopped morsels of Portuguese sausage, green onions and a splash of shoyu, and the dish is taken to the next level. Then comes two eggs (any style) placed atop the mounds of rice. Over easy is my style of choice, especially with fried rice, because the yolk seamlessly soaks into each grain of rice for a fortitude of flavor.

I’m not the only one crazy about this dish. In fact, restaurant manager Victoria Sayno says Kim Chee Fried Rice has been a highly requested item since day one.

“To meet the demand of customers, we make a fresh batch of kim chee about once a week. We use a recipe that was created by a former chef, which calls for garlic, kim chee sauce, a kick of hot pepper and a sprinkle of salt mixed with layers of cabbage.”

And for the noodle enthusiast, Asahi Grill cooks up a killer Kim Chee Ramen. Yum! Now this, my friends, is food for the soul.

Asahi Grill
515 Ward Ave.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best