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O’Kims Korean Kitchen Moves to Nu‘uanu Avenue

Gnocchi and Korean fried chicken is just one of the innovative pairings at the newly reopened eatery in Chinatown.


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OKims Korean Chicken

O’Kims Korean Chicken, paired with gnocchi, made the trek from the restaurant’s smith street location to its new space in nu‘uanu avenue.
Photos: Julie Zack

 

Walking in, the new O’Kims Korean Kitchen is eerily similar to the old Kan Zaman. Inside is a long bench with a series of two-top tables to the left, and to the right are a couple of larger tables that seat at least four. Outside, at the rear of the restaurant, is covered lānai seating, which offers a nice retreat in the middle of bustling Chinatown. It all looks and feels a lot like its predecessor, but now the walls are painted a clean white instead of the vibrant colors of Kan Zaman and contemporary Korean food is coming out of the kitchen.

 

OʻKims

Truffle mandoo with daikon and shoyu jelly is new to the menu.

 

The menu is largely the same as its previous Smith Street location, but there are now rotating monthly specials and appetizers. To start, my dining buddy and I picked the new vegan truffle mandoo ($8.95). The mandoo on its own was tasty, stuffed with three kinds of mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini and truffle pâté, but the cubes of shoyu jelly and daikon sprinkled on top added a touch of salt and hint of sour that brought the dish together.

 

When I ordered the Korean chicken and gnocchi ($12.95), I imagined a bed of small pasta dumplings topped with crispy fried chicken and dressed in kim chee. It sounded oddly good—the type of thing my pregnant best friend would concoct at 3 a.m. after a restless night of weird dreams. The reality was a bit different. There were only three pieces of gnocchi “nuts” as the menu described them, and instead of a pasta, they were more like small balls of mashed potatoes with lightly crisped exteriors. Not exactly gnocchi in my book, but still a solid pairing to the sweet-and-spicy fried chicken that was slathered in gochujang sauce. Mixed into the chicken were seasoned halved Brussels sprouts that added a nice crunch to the overall texture. Although I would have liked more gnocchi, the dish as a whole worked and offered some fun pairings.

 

Okims Red Wine Kalbi jjim

Red Wine Kalbi Jjim with potato croquette.

 

We also went for one of the three monthly specials—red wine kalbi jjim ($17.95). The red wine- and-shoyu-braised beef ribs came out on the bone in an impressive presentation. It was served over braised Chinese cabbage with three potato croquettes that were crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside and tasted very similar to the so-called gnocchi. The meat on the ribs was tender enough that my dining partner could pick it off with her chopsticks, although the waitress did offer us a fork and knife. The only disappointment was the lack of kim chee the menu promised.

 

Each entrée was served with a salad and purple rice. The sides don’t add much and the salad dressings were a bit lackluster. Overall the food was good, but not spectacular. It’s worth trying, but I would skip the sit-down experience next time and opt for takeout. The fresh veggies and solid flavors make O’Kims ideal for a quick grab-and-go meal when you’re craving healthier Korean-inspired fare.

 

Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for dinner. 1028 Nu‘uanu Ave., (808) 537-3787, okimshawaii.com.

 

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