My off works hours for the last two weeks were largely taken up by the Fringe Festival. I bought a buddy pass and saw 14 shows. I also took time to review 12 of them. I didn’t review the last two I saw as the festival was almost over, and I was wearing out. I was working full-time, so meals at home weren’t always on my schedule.
Fortunately, there are a lot of convenient and reasonably priced meal options right in the Exchange District. This year there were three food trucks out. Little Bones Chicken Wingery, which I tried for the first time at last year’s Fringe. Habanero Sombrero, and Stuff it were also out.
Given that the weather was either rainy or at best uncertain, it’s always nice to be able to get out of the elements as well. So, on a couple of occasions I decided to head up Albert Street to the Kimchi Cafe. Kimchi Cafe is a little restaurant on the main floor of a larger building along the east side of Albert St. It advertises itself as offering Korean and Japanese cuisine.
I can’t vouch for the whole menu, as it is quite large, but I have been pleased with all the dishes I’ve tried. The prices are quite reasonable and you can dine in satisfying fashion for $10-12, or feast it up for around $20. (all prices for food, alcohol extra).
The room is spacious and airy and even though much of it is open, the tables are far enough apart to give some sense of privacy. The pace of service is relaxed, although it can drift off to slow at times. The staff are friendly and efficient, and I like that chopsticks are the default cutlery setting.
I tried the Bi-Bim-Bab which is a Korean dish of steamed rice with vegetables, to which you can add a sunny-side up egg for $1.00 and/or bulgogi beef for $1.50. The day I ordered it, it was the special, so the egg was gratis. This vegetables that came were all fresh and crisp, and the rice was moist. The flavour is subtle, but the dish is meant to be served with hot sauce which gives it kick. I also tried two pieces of chopped scalloped Negri Sushi which featured the scallops in a creamy sauce.
The Korean dishes also come with 3 side dishes. Although I’ve had 4 each time I’ve ordered. The Kimchi, from which the cafe gets it name is my favourite. I also quite like the bean sprouts. The bean sprouts are simpler with more of a vinegary taste, but they provide a fine counter point to the other side dishes.
The seaweed salad intrigued me, and I found it to have the texture of an al dente pasta, with a citrus flavour set off nicely by a mixture of white and black sesame seeds. A bowl of miso soup will make a nice starter, garnished with green onions and small cubes of tofu that dissolve on your tongue.
I also tried the chicken teriyaki with dynamite and spicy tuna rolls. The chicken was moist and well-cooked, and served with cabbage that was not quite crisp., but still gave you something to sink your teeth into. Both of the sushi rolls were well constructed, and the dab of spice on the tuna roll gave it a little aftershock when you ate it.
I don’t know when Kimchi’s peak hours are, but it has never been particularly busy when I’ve been there. If you’re in the Exchange District and feeling hungry some day, Kimchi Cafe is most certainly a place you should give a try.