Best Bites: O’Kims Korean Kitchen Keeps Reinventing Korean Cuisine

(Partner Content) From deep-fried braised beltfish to an addictive vegan zucchini pancake, we try O’Kims’ inventive monthly specials.



There’s a reason why O’Kims Korean Kitchen in Chinatown has won gold for Best Overall Korean two years in a row in HONOLULU Magazine’s annual Hale ʻAina awards.


Chef-owner Hyun Kim serves consistently delicious modern Korean dishes, from the confit pork belly brûlée to a slightly poached salmon topped with panko and seaweed powder. But she keeps it interesting with her monthly specials, which lure back regulars (like us).


And often, these turn out to be the Best Bites of the month.


The zucchini pancake ($14.95)—which we’re hoping makes it on the permanent menu—combines shredded zucchini with corn and onions. This vegan pancake is pan-fried and served with a shoyu sauce on the side. Another appetizer special is a refreshing and hearty abalone salad ($16.95) with steamed abalone, seaweed, okra, tomatoes, beets and cucumbers.


September’s entrée specials are as inventive as you’d expect from Kim. The Ibérico pork dish ($38.95) is a rare treat. Kim uses the collar steak of the high-quality Ibérico pork, often called the “Wagyu of Pork.” It boasts beautiful marbling and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. (The pork is also antibiotic- and hormone-free.) The dish comes with kale and cabbage, a pork wine sauce and fig chutney, wit

h long grain rice on the side.


The other entrée special is the Jeju Island beltfish ($22.95), or galchi-jorim (which means “beltfish” and “braised” in Korean). Beltfish is one of the most popular fish in Koraen, along with mackerel and pollock. It’s a fatty, white-flesh fish with a very soft texture that’s often braised or grilled. (You’ll also see it in soups.) At O‘Kims, the fish is deep fried and served with daikon, potatoes, tofu and bok choy, swimming in gochujang sauce and served with purple rice and kim chee.


You can’t visit O’Kims without ordering its popular—and vegan!—truffle mandoo ($9.95), packed with four kinds of mushrooms, zucchini and mushroom paste and topped with tiny cubes of shoyu gelée and takuan. For dessert, get the elote ice cream—its best seller—a fun sweet corn ice cream shaped like a corn on the cob. It’s the perfect bite to end a decadent meal.


Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday, 1028 Nuʻuanu Ave., Chinatown, (808) 537-3787,, @okims_honolulu


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