KIMCHI "UP IN" SMOKE
(LOGO PROVIDED VIA GOOGLE)
KIMCHI SMOKE is Southern Korean BBQ that comes to Westwood, NJ out of Seoul, TX. KIMCHI SMOKE has been featured on ABC News and has had lots of great and exciting reviews since their "Pop Up" days. Today I finally made my way over to the Westwood location with my buddy Corey. I have been waiting to experience all that is KIMCHI SMOKE BBQ since they opened because I wanted to enjoy it with someone who would appreciate it as much as I do. Did they live up to all of the hype?
I just wanted to show off the ordering counter. I find it to be nothing more than a bunch of clutter. I feel that this area should be neater and more guest friendly. I'm not really sure why the cook books are there. Are they selling them? Maybe. There is nothing to tell you why they are there. I also love the random bottle of The Macallen on the back shelf.
THE FOOD & SERVICE
Above are the Korean BBQ Ribs and the Bad As Texas Brisket (Not a typo, it's "As" not Ass"). When I asked for the Korean BBQ Ribs, Mr. Cho went to the kitchen to see if they were ready for service. He did not tell me he was going to walk away, he just did. Then instead of bringing me the answer, he began to deliver food to his other guests. I'm sorry, but I believe I was in the middle of placing my order. This definitely rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning. When, Mr. Cho came back to the counter he just looked at me. I had to ask, "So do you have the ribs?" Obviously he did. If you are going to walk away to get an answer, first let your guest know what you are doing (I overheard him asking) and then give them the answer upon return.
Okay back to the food. Look at how good the Ribs and Brisket look. Mouth watering aren't they? Then why did I find myself disappointed? Both dishes lacked flavor. The Ribs had a nice char that I like and looked amazing. But once I put it in my mouth, all I tasted was sesame seeds. The Brisket was incredibly tender and I expected that black seasoned area of the fat to be loaded with flavor and spices, but again nothing. I was ready for the advertised "Legendary" Brisket to be full of smoke flavor and it was nowhere to be found. I even said a corny joke to Corey about them changing their name from KIMCHI SMOKE to KIMCHI TENDER. I know bad joke, but true at least for today. The meat was cooked perfectly but lacked the ever important flavor that we were both looking forward to.
Now on the the Main Event. The Cholander Sammie features Smoked Pork Shoulder, Fatboy Bourbon Chipotle Sauce, Smoked Kimchi, Cheese on Ramen Bun. I have to say that this sandwich was delicious. The pork was wonderfully cooked and I did in fact catch a hint of the smoke flavor. However, I would have preferred a heavier smoke flavor. The best part of the sandwich was the Smoked Kimchi. The Kimchi was amazing.
My buddy Corey had the Austin Ramen Cho which features Smoked Brisket, Fatboy Bourbon Chipotle Sauce, Smoked Kimchi, Cheese, Bacon, Scallions, Gochu Glaze on a Ramen Bun. Again the Kimchi made the sandwich. The bacon and cheese helped too. But just like what I said about the brisket earlier, it was tender. That's all. There was no flavor detected from the meat itself. Good sandwich that could have been better.
The Ramen Buns were an experience in it's own. This is my first time trying a Ramen Bun. I can now say that I have had the experience and I never desire to have it again. I kept longing for actual bread while I ate the sandwich. The Ramen Bun is a $2 up charge, I don't think it's worth it.
I only really enjoyed a small portion of the experience today. The kimchi itself was the only real superstar except from the Dr. Brown's Black Cherry Soda. Sadly I have to say that KIMCHI SMOKE was over-hyped and I feel that all the hype may hurt them in the long haul. I desperately hope that I am proven wrong. My buddy Corey saw the disappointment in my eyes as I ate. My disappointment actually upset him. But he understood where I was coming from. May I give them a second chance one day? Maybe. I always say that I don't mind spending a lot of money for good food. Today, I overpaid.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5 stars. This rating comes from considerations from both service and the food execution.