Kim Chi House is a true hidden gem in Calgary. Since it is located in the tiny food court of the City Plaza building in Chinatown, one would expect it to serve fast-food fare but actually, it serves quite the opposite. After placing your order at the counter, all their dishes are made to order and brought out to your table. The only downside with this is during the peak times, it could take quite a while before your food arrives. This is something to keep in mind if you are in a rush. A co-worker introduced me to Kim Chi House a couple of months ago. We had the squid and marinated beef hot pot for 2 people (Oh Bul Sa), which included Korean style noodles, bean sprouts, onion, and mushroom ($21.00). It was delicious and more than enough food for 2 people. They also serve other variations such as squid and marinated pork (Oh Sam Sa) also for $21.00 as well as spicy chicken hot pot for $25.00 for 2 people. During my first visit, I noticed many of the neighbouring tables ordering the stone bowl (dolsot) bibimbap ($8.95) and I clued in that this must be one of their signature items.
The dolsot bibimbap is served in a very hot stone bowl (also known as dolsot) and usually contains rice topped with thinly sliced or julienned vegetables and meat. It is also often topped with a raw or fried egg. All the items in the bowl are mixed together just before eating. Bibimbap actually means “mixed meal” in Korean.
Since it was a rather chilly March day in Calgary yesterday, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try Kim Chi House’s dolsot bibimbap. Their version contains beef, white radish, zucchini, bean sprouts, mushroom, and carrots and is topped with a overeasy egg. What makes Kim Chi House’s dolsot bibimbap so tasty is the extremely hot stone bowl. The bowl is so hot that anything that touches the side of the stone bowl sizzles for minutes. This is particularly important so the layer of rice that touches the sides of the bowl continues to cook and becomes crispy. Often I’ve ordered the dolsot bibimbap at other restaurants where the stone bowl isn’t quite hot enough and the rice doesn’t become crispy. The dolsot bibimbap at Kim Chi House was served with a plastic squeeze bottle of gochujan, which is a spicy fermented red chili bean paste. The spicy gochujan with its sweet, earthy, savoury flavour added depth to the perfectly cripsy bibimbap. I was pleasantly surprised the stone bowl kept the bibimbap hot down to the last spoonful. The dolsot bibimbap was definitely a winner and was probably one of the best I’ve had in Calgary. I can’t wait to go and have it again!
Kim Chi House has a reasonable sized menu. I can’t wait to go back to try some of their noodle dishes, especially the cold noodles (bi bim naeng myeon) when the weather gets warmer.
Kim Chi House
303 Centre Street SW