420 Preston Street, Ottawa
Date of Visit: July, 2017
Le Kim Chi lies in the heart of Ottawa’s Little Italy, which seems vaguely appropriate for a Korean restaurant. Actually, there are several Asian restaurants in the immediate vicinity and I can say, after a recent visit, that this is one of the better ones…
Le Kim Chi is a pretty small place, seating only 40 or so but it is pleasantly appointed and comfortable. It was empty when I arrived at noon on a Tuesday and only a few patrons arrived during my meal. That wasn’t entirely unexpected though as it was a very hot day just following a long-weekend. The menu is quite extensive, especially for such a small place, and what drew me to the place was the appetizer selection. I was very impressed, beyond the fast and friendly service, when my server volunteered to bring me a side dish of Kimchi free of charge even though the usual Korean Banchans only come with main course dishes.
Kimchi – This is the free sample was given. I make my own but I can say that this is better than my best. It was simple, comprising just Chinese cabbage and scallion, and it was obviously only recently made as it hadn’t soured significantly and was actually a little sweet. The hot pepper powder was used sparingly, so it would probably be within the heat tolerance level of most people, and there was a slight nuttiness to it that was novel and very pleasant indeed.
Haemool Pajeon – A Pajeon is a savory Korean Pancake and the ‘Haemool’ identifies it as being a seafood pancake. I have eaten these many times and made them myself but this was one of the best I have had. The seafood, in this case, was shrimp, squid, and crab-stick, and the vegetable component consisted of red and white cabbage, carrot and scallion. Quite often, the batter for these can be stodgy, or have a raw batter taste, but these were very light and well cooked with nice crispy bits here and there.
Japchae – This is the first time I have had this dish. The menu described it as ‘Sweet potato noodles stir-fried in sesame oil with vegetables’ and I was a little hesitant about trying it after the very large Pajeon that preceded it, but my server brought a small portion for me to sample. The noodles are very like mung bean, or ‘cellophane’ noodles, which I enjoy, and the veggies consisted of carrot, red pepper and some greens that I think were spinach. The vegetables were flash cooked at very high temperature leaving the red-pepper caramelized and sweet as though it had been roasted. I was expecting the sesame oil to be a dominant flavor but, in fact, it was very understated and allowed the fresh taste of the veggies to come through nicely.
I would happily come back to eat here. The service was outstanding and every dish I had was really well done. I rate the place at a solid 5 out of 5.