When I heard a new Korean place was opening up Downtown, needless to say I was very excited since most of my go-to Korean restaurants are a ways north. My best friend (half Korean like myself) Jenn (author of Jenn Dot Com) and I quickly made plans to check Cha:n out! And boy, am I glad we did.
I opted to walk from my office in Lower Queen Anne to the restaurant. I arrived early, and I was greeted by Fox the restaurant manager and Nikki the bartender. While waiting for Jenn, I decided to sit at the bar. I struck up a conversation with Nikki going over the cocktail menu, which inventively uses Korean wine and liquor. I ordered a vodka gimlet, my usual drink, and Nikki asked if I liked raspberries and lime. I said yes, so she asked me to trust her. I figured I was in good hands, so I let her work her magic resulting in a vodka gimlet with Bokbunja, Korean raspberry wine. It was beautiful and delicious!
Later on in the meal, I also enjoyed a sojito, a Korean twist on the mojito made with soju, a clear Korean spirit. It’s a perfect summer cocktail.
And for a more “dessert” like cocktail, I tried another Nikki creation, the yet to be named brown sugar-ginger-soju martini which used bekseju, another Korean wine flavored with herbs predominantly ginseng. It was bright, refreshing, and just sweet enough.
As for what food to order, Jenn and I had a difficult time trying to decide. One thing we did know was that we wanted a good mix of the Traditional and Modern items. To start, we ordered one item from each side of the menu.
mung bean kimchi pancake (traditional)
and the bulgogi beef sliders (modern)
I really liked that they use mung bean flour for the pancakes, but the kimchi flavor didn’t come through enough for my liking. I could see it as a milder “starter” appetizer for someone trying kimchi for the first time, but I personally like kimchi pancakes to have some bite.
The bulgogi beef sliders, on the other hand, I could have eaten at least five more! The cucumber kimchi added both a freshness and contrast in flavor to the sweet bulgogi marinade as well as provided a crunch. Also, the quality and flavor of the beef was superb. The dish definitely showcased the locally sourced market ingredients and quality meat from Painted Hills.
After finishing up those two dishes, we chose two more dishes to complete the meal.
Spicy kimchi pork belly with poached tofu (traditional)
and the kimchi bacon paella cheese gratin (modern)
Both of these dishes hit the spot. The spicy kimchi pork belly with poached tofu is one of my favorite Korean dishes to begin with, and I was definitely pleased with it at Cha:n. The tofu had a really great texture and flavor. The preparation of the dish with the mound of spicy kimchi pork belly sitting atop the tofu was perfect for getting a bit of everything in each bite!
As for the gratin, while on the Modern side of the menu, this dish took me straight back to Korea! It’s comfort food for sure with a bit of a Western flair. The kimchi really was the star of this dish! I think that even someone who may not think they like kimchi might change their mind after one bite!
While we weren’t necessarily going to go for dessert, Fox insisted we couldn’t leave without trying the ginger creme brulee. I am a sucker for creme brulee but I am not always up for ginger flavored things as I can only handle so much ginger. Let me say though that this ginger dessert hit the spot. It had just the right amount of spice and the creme brulee itself was cooked perfectly! It tasted just like these round fortune cookie type treats coated with ginger icing my mom used to buy me when I was growing up, and it was a great way to end a fantastic meal.
I will definitely be bringing my fiance to Cha:n in the coming weeks as he loves Korean food as much as I do, but mainly so I can try even more items on the menu! I’d definitely recommend Cha:n if you are looking for a way to introduce people to Korean food beyond BBQ or are looking for a cozy place for a few cocktails and delicious small plates to share. Check Cha:n out on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: Does It Come With Bacon was not financially compensated for this blog post but was treated to a complimentary meal at Cha:n. All opinions expressed in this review are mine and based on my experience.