First Look: O’Kims Korean Kitchen opens in Chinatown

This isn’t your uncle’s Korean barbecue.
These spare ribs are marinated in gochujang and served with kim chee, a small salad and potato salad.
Photos: Kawehi Haug


When we got word that Smith Street was the new home of a place called O’Kims, our overstimulated foodie brains went into overdrive. An Irish-Korean place? Corned beef and kim chee and bulgogi shepherd’s pie? We could get into that.


Or was it Korean-Korean? Like, a Korean “O” not an Irish “O” and since the name didn’t also include letters B, B and Q, maybe we were in for some seriously Korean Korean food. Like the kind they’re always eating on Korean dramas. Turns out, it’s neither.


Upon further research, and a closer look at the menu, O’Kims calls itself a contemporary Korean Kitchen, which means it’s taking fast-casual Korean take-out food and turning it on its head just a wee bit. Our bibimbap ($8.99 to $13.99) came with barley rice and apple gochujang. Our kalbi steak ($9.99) was sliced and fanned out, restaurant style, on purple rice with a side of fried heirloom root veggies (fan-CY!). Our kim chee fried rice? It also had mozzarella cheese and pancetta thrown in the mix. This is not your uncle’s Korean barbecue.


This isn’t your traditional Korean barbecue takeout. The bibimbap, for example, came with barley rice and apple gochujang.


The fancy kalbi steak was sliced and fanned out on purple rice with a side of fried heirloom root veggies.


Our favorite is the furikake salmon. Though less newfangled-y than the other dishes, the cook on the salmon was absolutely perfect. It couldn’t have been better if it was made in a much fancier joint somewhere on King Street. (We’re looking at you, Alan Wong.)


And, for $11.99, it’s a delicious and satisfying meal that won’t blow your lunch budget.


Though we found the dishes to be slightly bland—we expect big flavor when we sit down to a Korean meal—we also found them to be packed full with fresh veggies and lighter bites, like the crisp apple-potato Waldorfian salad that came with our spicy spareribs.


Hungry bellies looking for satisfying, healthier food that’s not quinoa, chia seeds and baked chicken breast, should make O’Kims a regular stop on their fast-food circuit. Or, better yet, stay in the office and order in, because O’Kims delivers in the neighborhood.


 For free. Kamsahamnida to that.


O’Kims Contemporary Korean Kitchen, 1164 Smith St., 537-3787