Kim Chi House is one of Jason’s fabulous lunch finds when he was working near Chinatown. It’s located in the same City Plaza building as Hans Restaurant, a Taiwanese/Szechuan place that’s one of my Calgary favourites.
Kim Chi House is actually part of the tiny food court. After you order, your food is brought to your table. The menu is small but straight-forward, and it cooks up what I think is the best bibimbap ($7.95) in the city.
Dolsot bibimbap, which means “mixed meal,” is a piping hot stone bowl filled with rice, beef, vegetables (usually thinly sliced cucumber, zucchini, carrots, bean sprouts) and topped with a slightly over easy egg.
Because the bowl is so hot, the layer of rice that touches the sides continues to cook and becomes crispy. You mix everything together (hence “mixed meal”) before diving into the deliciousness.
At some places the stone bowl isn’t quite hot enough so there isn’t that distinctive crunchy rice. I’ve had bibimbap at other places where the rice becomes too crispy. So I declare Kim Chi House the just-right, Goldilocks of Calgary bibimbap.
A plastic squeeze bottle of gochujang, a red pepper paste, came with the bibimbap. It’s a fermented chili bean paste that offers an amazing combination of slightly spicy, earthy and savoury. I wanted to tuck the bottle away in my purse, but I didn’t because that would be uncouth. Besides my purse wasn’t big enough.
We also had chicken bulgogi ($7.95), which was a big plate of marinated dark meat and a bowl of rice. Not the best in the city but still pretty good.
Kim Chi House has stacks of tiny metal cups that you can use to get free barley tea or water. Oh, and most importantly, it’s cash only.
Seating is in a main food court area, where the individual stands are responsible for clearing the tables, so you might find dirty dishes and sticky tables here and there if it’s busy.
Kim Chi House, 303 Centre St. S.W., (403) 265-8098. Open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Cash only.
Room for strollers: Yes
High chairs: No
Kids menu: No
Ambiance: As with most Asian places, no one cares about noise, toddlers etc.
Change tables: Sorry, did not check.