Charim. Ring any bells? Yes, this the restaurant next door to Havana Rumba. I know you’ve seen it while you’ve waited outside Havana Rumba for a couple hours and enjoyed a cocktail or two looking at its storefront. It’s Korean food, by the way.
For the last few months, I’ve been hearing people say how great it is. The conversation is always the same: Have you been to the restaurant next door to Havana Rumba? You need to try it; it is REALLY good.
Well, they were right. It is really good.
A couple weeks ago, my friend and I stopped by early for lunch and the restaurant had filled up fast by the time we left at noon. I have had Korean food on a number of occasions, but always with a Korean friend who helps me order. I was on my own this time, but I could see from other people’s orders around us that everything looked good, and I discovered you cannot really mess up your order here.
When we arrived we had a menu, chopsticks and a long-handled spoon waiting at our table. I thought this spoon was for iced-tea. Turns out it’s for soups and broths.
You are immediately served with six small plates of snacks or Banchan. These included cucumbers, peanuts, kim-chee, and other things that were all delicious (I have no idea what they were, though). They refill these plates constantly while you eat.
My friend ordered Hot Stone Bibim Bab. This dish consists of rice with assorted vegetable toppings, with spicy sauce in a hot stone bowl with a fried egg on the top. Hot stone means that it is a hot dish. Regular Bibim Bab is served cold, like a salad.
I ordered Chicken Bulgogi, which is sliced chicken in spicy chili pepper sauce, grilled with assorted mixed vegetables. This would be comparable to Asian fajitas.
This is definitely a place where I will return to try the rest of the menu. Most people I know who have dined there have gone for dinner. There is an extensive selection of appetizers I would love to try. Also, there is an entire section of just entree soups.
The service is quick and friendly and definitely authentic. The menu provides clarification about the ingredients in all of its selections and it is very straightforward. You will not be surprised by a mystery ingredient in any dish.
Go ahead and try it. It’s definitely a gem hiding in plain sight.
They are located at 4123 Oechsli Ave, off between Thierman and Sears Avenue in St. Matthews, and right next door to Havana Rumba. Click here for more information and hours: www.facebook.com