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Korean and Mexican flavors come together at Kimchichanga

By in Press Enterprise on January 13, 2018

By David Cohen Restaurant owner and his sons, Richard, left, Munther and Louis Ali Deeb

Kimchichanga has brightly colored décor with a corrugated metal ceiling interspersed with bright red beams, echoing the striking visuals and bold flavors of the Riverside restaurant’s dishes.

It is truly a fusion-style place. Mexican dishes are infused with Korean ingredients to produce culinary creations where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Kimchi (Korean spicy pickled cabbage) plays an integral role, as do the marinated grilled meats such as bulgogi (thin-sliced steak) and kalbi (short ribs).

You’ll also find the Korean all-purpose chili sauce, Ssam, in a number of dishes, which combines a fermented, salted soybean paste (doenjang) and roasted garlic and vinegar with gochujang (a potent chile pepper paste). It goes particularly well with grilled meats.

During a recent visit, we began with the Ssam lettuce cup tacos (two), filled with bulgogi strips, mango slices, jicama and cabbage along with the Ssam sauce which provides a funky umami flavor to the overall taste profile. It’s a generous, visually appealing item that literally sings with multiple flavors — a bit sweet and a bit spicy.

The Kimchichanga, which matches the restaurant’s new name (it previously was Red Hot Kitchen), is a riff on the classic deep-fried chimichanga. The rolled tortilla is stuffed with kimchi, beans, cheese and kalbi (which was rather chewy), deep-fried and then streaked with spicy mayo and Sriracha sauces. It’s served as four thick cylinders with excellent eye appeal and a flavor profile that really amps up the standard chimichanga.

Bulgogi Philly Sandwich at Kimchichanga in Riverside, Thursday, June 1, 2017. (Eric Reed/Riverside Magazine/)Bulgogi Philly Cheesesteak

The kimchi quesadilla has a distinct spicy component with a hint of sourness and generous amounts of tender spicy pork. It’s garnished with chopped green onions and red bell […]    

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