O’Kims Korean Kitchen, a popular lunch spot at the edge of Chinatown, is now open Sundays for brunch. It's about yummy food and a chill space where you can hear your tablemates, and O'Kims takes reservations to boot — it's the opposite of loud, trendy spots with long waits for sugar-laden stacks of pancakes.
O’Kims took over the former Kan Zaman location in January, a much larger space than their previous hole-in-the-wall on Smith Street. You can dine indoors or al fresco on the charming courtyard patio. Since brunch is only on Sundays, nearby street parking is also much easier.
I love chef-owner Hyun Kim's signature healthy, Korean-inspired balanced dishes, so I order a sampling of three of the five brunch items: the bulgogi benedict, baked french toast and kimchee fried rice.
Bulgogi benedict and kimchee fried rice don't sound that interesting to me at first. The bulgogi benedict has bulgogi, stir-fried spinach and poached egg on an English muffin with parmesan hollandaise sauce, served with a side salad. Nothing as creative as O'Kims' lunch items like Korean chicken with gnocchi, salmon with seaweed powder, Korean remoulade and tosazu gelee, and confited pork belly brulee.
The benedict is solid and tasty on its own, but definitely better with the salad and a side order of housemade kimchee. Together they strike the right balance. The parmesan on the eggs is also great addition — it adds a nice texture and saltiness.
Baked french toast? Yup. This one's as if bread pudding and veggie quiche had a beautiful, crunchy-topped, lightly sweetened baby swaddled in slices of thick-cut bacon. I worry that this will be cloyingly sweet, but it isn't. It seems more like a bread pudding than french toast, but whatever you call it, I like it. The best part is the crust: flaky, buttery and reminiscent of a kouign amman.
The nostalgic flavors of kimchee fried rice are straight-up comfort food for me. Kim takes what many know as Japanese-style omurice — ketchup-stir-fried rice topped with a thin omelet — but uses kimchee fried rice. Always trying to fuse Korean and Western elements, she adds in pancetta. I must have had a version of this over a hundred times growing up. It's good, but not as striking as her more creative lunch offerings.
FYI, O'Kims is BYOB. They do have coffee and mocktails, include plantation iced tea, strawberry mojito and yuzu lemonade.
O’Kims Korean Kitchen
1028 Nuuanu St. (former Kan Zaman space)
Sunday brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Lunch Mon - Sat 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner Wed - Thu 4-8 p.m., Fri - Sat 4-10 p.m.