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A fresh Kitchen Maroo menu makes for stellar BBQ

New dishes show off the skill of this kitchen.

  • Name + address: Kitchen Maroo, 281 Kent St.

  • Type of food: Korean

  • Appetizers: $9-$12

  • Mains: $18-$37

  • Diet: Meat, seafood, vegetarian

  • Wheelchair accessibility: No

  • Licensed: Yes

  • Website: www.kitchenmaroo.com

Readers know my fondness for Korean cuisine. It’s packed with flavour, it can be great for your gut thanks to kimchi,and tends to be low in fat and high in fibre. In the hands of a trained and experienced chef like Yuchang Kim however, the experience makes for effortless eating. 

What is effortless eating? It’s my expression for a meal that requires no thought. You’re not analyzing every bite for flaws or balance. As soon as you taste it, you know you’re in good and consistent hands and it tastes great.

Life and business partners Lindsay Shin and Yuchang Kim came to Canada 12 years ago and late last year moved their restaurant Kitchen Maroo to Kent Street. Based on a recent weekend visit, audiences have found them and are giving them the love they deserve for their fusion Korean cuisine.

One of the latest items being rolled out today is tteokgalbi. Think of it as a more dense and flavourful version of a Salisbury steak. Theirs is a version from the Royal Korean court.

These two patties were robed in a red wine demi-glace and served with salad and a choice of mashed potatoes, rice or roasted baby potatoes. 

The minced beef is firmly formed, indeed taking it into the realm of steak rather than hamburger. It’s judiciously and deliciously seasoned and the demi-glace adds an upscale luscious element further augmented by the fried egg on top.

Galbi ribs. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

Next up a global favourite of Korean cuisine and a dish that has likely put beef lovers in a quandary over who makes the best BBQ: Korea or America?

Of course the two are entirely different but there’s no doubt that when most people think of BBQ beef, there’s a better than even chance that they now think of Korea. 

LA galbi beef ribs are a cut of ribs that were first tried in Los Angeles (a history under Quick Bites below) and has now become the norm for Korean restaurants throughout North America.

Tasting the Maroo version I was transported back to the early budding days of Korea Town in Toronto. When the first Korean BBQ house opened, a friend and I ate ourselves silly with these ribs but were quickly sober when the bill came. 

They had remained the tastiest ribs I’d had until I tried Yuchang’s. Luckily Maroo has an advantage and that is a glassed-in showcase charcoal BBQ next to the kitchen. The actual char-grilling makes a difference and you’ll want to get a taste of that.

The glaze is of course addictive but Yuchang shows his decades of skill with the grill and the meat is sublimely tender and my companion couldn’t get enough of the charred bits around the bone.

Sweet potato cheesecake. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

Finally it was time for Lindsay’s always excellent desserts. On this occasion I tried the sweet potato cheesecake and was delighted by the smooth consistency and how well the flavours of cream cheese and sweet potato had been blended together. It was also far less sweet than many western desserts with the sweetness of the whipped cream filling in nicely. 

Lindsay and Yuchang continue to elevate their menu and offer fresh home-cooking at very reasonable prices. As a reminder you will also find a modest and reasonably priced selection of wines by the bottle or the glass, assembled by yours truly. For a truly fun pairing ask for their excellent fried chicken with a bottle of sparkling Cava.