Experimenting north of K-Town
1229 E. Colorado St. (east of Chevy Chase, in Glendale)
Phone: 818-507-1185 | map
An unassuming yellow building along Colorado, Kim's is a good introduction for someone who is not an aficionado of Korean cuisine (e.g., someone like me). They are quite friendly, lacking the discomfiting alienation one might feel deep in Koreatown. It's unfussily decorated, and you'll find yourself awash in rich cooking smells, amazingly good, hungry-making smells, upon entering.
The menu seems not to offer a lot of side dishes, but that's because it's Korean food; you'll get a bevy of little plates of cold banchan delights. There is the omniessential kimchi*, upon the finishing of which the nice lady will bring more, and kongnamul, soybean sprouts seasoned in sesame oil, with the pods wonderfully snappy like peanuts. The others were (help me out here, Korean cuisine aficionados) parboiled greens that might have been green onion, slices of what seemed to be a scallion pancake, and strips of tofu. The banchan dishes are meant to be shared if you're not alone.
The entrees are solid. The spicy pork or chicken bulgogi is tender yet robust, coated with lip-staining red spices and sizzling with onions on an iron plate. The dukbokki (spicy rice cake) is a must-have, unexpected in its presentation. The rice cakes are in cylinders, along with carrot, onion and triangles of fish cake; the sauce is a nearly gelatinous fish-oil-and-red-chili affair with a nice mouth burn.
The dumpling soup rivals any Chinese war wonton, clear with glass noodles and with a comforting, unsalty finish.
The heat level of all this would not make a Korean infant blink, but I suspect that it's toned down for the Glendalian palate, or because they detected with uncanny accuracy that I am not Korean. I've had kimchi that made me want to sell my sisters to stop the pain, but it's presented here more tamely. The food has a pleasant, mouth-filling smolder, with only a hint of nose snifflage. However, if you order water, it comes in a cute snap-top soju pitcher, so you're completely prepared and life is good.
There's a bitty parking lot in back.
* You must know what kimchi is, but if not, you're missing out on one of the most important aspects of Korean food, if not Korean life. It's Napa cabbage, mostly. Wilted. Salted. With garlic, ginger, red chili peppers, and a few other goodies tucked between the leaves. Then fermented. For weeks. It is utterly awesome.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Glendale/Atwater/Eagle Rock, Korean )
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