My first encounter with korean food would have to be 15 years ago, when I was still in primary school. At lunch time, my korean friend would eat from his shiny metal lunch box, which was always filled with a variety of delicious korean delicacies, while I would be nibbling on my strawberry jam sandwich. It was until I was in high school when I started to appreciate the korean cuisine.
There are several korean restaurants in Canberra but Chez Kimchi would have to be my favourite place for a good fix of korean food. Chez Kimchi is a fairly new restaurant located in the hear of the city. It is really easy to find as it is directly opposite to Sammy’s Kitchen, the parking however is much more difficult especially on fridays and the weekend.
If you are eating with friends and family, I would recommend you skip all the dumplings and go straight for the pancakes as they are more economical. Chez Kimchi makes four different pancakes, oyster, seafood, kimchi and vegetable. My go-to one would be the vegetable one as it is suitable for everyone. All the pancakes are served with a slightly spicy vinegar dipping sauce.
I’ve been to Chez Kimchi several times, my current average is once a week and everytime I ask if they do the oyster pancake. The response I always got was ‘not available yet’. Until this week when I went, the boss lady told me it was available. I definitely had to order it. The pancake in korean is called Dotori-Gul Jeon, I simply call it oyster pancake. This pancake is different from the other ones because the flour they use to make the batter is from acorn, which gives the pancake its distinguish brown colour.
When you first walk into Chez Kimchi, nearly every table you see will have a plate of fried chicken. At Chez Kimchi they have an impressive menu for KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), my personal favourite one would have to be the Spring Onion Chicken, as I absolutly love spring onion. The chicken are served in either half or whole portions, for individuals they recommend ordering half serving as you will still have room for a jigae (korean stew).
For those who are familar with the Korean cuisine would instantly notice that they use alot of red pepper flakes in their food, especially in their jigae. For those who cannot handle the heat, do not hesitate as there are non spicy alternatives available at Chez Kimchi. The first one is Dubu-Beoseot Jeongol, which is a tofu and mixed mushroom hotpot. The hotpot consists of tofu, mixed mushrooms, edible crysanthemum leaves and rice cakes in a light broth, which they cook directly at your table. For those who need a bit of carbs in their diet don’t worry as these hotpots includes two bowls of rice, perfect for those who dine in pairs. Third wheelers, I’m sorry but you’ll have to order your own bowl of rice.
The second non spicy alternative is the Samgyetang, ginseng chicken soup. This is a traditonal soup that is drunk during the hot summers in Korea to revitalise the body and boost the immune system, similar to how people drink chicken soup when they suffer from cold and flu. Earlier this year, I went ot South Korea and consumed numerous Samgyetang, so when I saw this on the menu it was a must order. When they served this up, I was amazed at the size of the chicken!! From memory the ones I had in South Korea were only poussin chickens not a family roast chicken!! Besides the size my eyes couldn’t stop staring at the mountain of spring onion on top of the chicken. The broth, at first had a faint herbal flavour but the more you boiled, the stronger the herbal flavour became. Some people may find the herbal flavour offputting but I really like it as it reminds me of the chinese herbal soups my mother made for me while growing up.
I was once told that to tell whether a Korean restaurant is good is by the number of Banchan (small side dishes) they give momentarily after you have placed your order. Chez Kimchi gives out four different sides, kimchi is always one of them!! Although they are served in small portions, I ahve successfully requested a refill of kimchi.
Address: 70 Bunda Street (opposite to Sammy’s Kitchen), Civic
Sunday to Thursday
Lunch 11:00 to 3:00
Dinner 5:00 to 10:00
Friday and Saturday
Lunch 11:00 to 3:00
Dinner 5:00 to 12:00
Closed last tuesday of each month