From the moment I stepped into the place, I knew what I was going to blog about tonight.
It started with a text a week ago wednesday morning: “… I want to tell you that I should be in Chicago next Wednesday. Perhaps a meal after I golf?” About half of you will know instantly who sent the text: Mark O’Donnell. It almost worked out. I met him after class at Bridgeport Coffee (they have seriously good coffee there – I got after church and whenever else I can), and he met me at my apartment, two blocks away. Then we got our stories straight and met on the sidewalk halfway in between.
He proposed a restaurant he heard about at the course: Kimski. I’ve been wanting to go to this restaurant for a while now, it’s right across the street from Bridgeport Coffee. This is THE most unusual fusion restaurant I’ve ever even heard of. Think about the name for a second; Kim – Korean, Ski – Polish. Yes, you read that right, it’s a Polish/Korean fusion restaurant. I’ll give you a moment with that.
Hopefully, you’ve recovered a bit.
I am so, so glad I went with a good friend. This is an experience you just have to share. To call it fusion is sort of an understatement. I’ll summarize at the end in case it’s not clear in the narrative.
When you walk in, the place is tiny. I think officially it is a take out place. Outside there are four small tables, inside a window counter with three stools, a table with a booth (handmade, I think) and two chairs, and the retail counter. There is a window and door into the kitchen on the left. You pick up a menu and order. I’m just going to paste the menu here, because any words I’d use would be inadequate.
MARIA’S STANDARD $8
House sausage, soju mustard, Kraut-chi, scallions,soft roll
MEAT POTSKIS $7
Ground beef & potato ﬁlling, farmers cheese, soy cream, herb salad, pickled onion
VEGGIE POTSKIS $7
Sauerkraut and Mushroom ﬁlling, farmers cheese, soy cream, herb salad, pickled onion
Rice roll w variety of daily banchan, AP sauce
KOPO WANGS $8
Sweet and spicy AP sauce, sesame seeds, scallions
RICE CAKES $8
Sweet and spicy chili sauce, kapusta, sesame seeds,sesame leaves
SCALLION POTATO PANCAKES $9
Pork shoulder, kimchi of the day, smoked soy sauce
KIMCHI FRIED RICE $7
Kraut-chi, kimchi of the day, fried egg, scallions and greens
POTATO SCALLION QUESADILLA $9
Our potato scallion pancake, muenster cheese,sautéed kimchi, sesame leaves
KIMSKI POUTINE $10
Fries, kimchi beer gravy, curds, kimchi, scallions,sesame seeds
I think you can see what I mean. They’ve made up a lot of their own words: Kraut-chi? Wangs?
Mark and I ordered the Veggie Potskis and the daily special, which the owner described as a fusion between Kimski Poutine and Maria’s Standard. It was a fusion of fusions; a quadruple fusion.
After we ordered, we were told to take our number (6), take some utensils (chopsticks and a plastic knife in our case) from the counter, and go next door to the liquor store-cum-bar. Oh yeah, and be prepared to show ID.
We followed orders, and walked into a fairly typical liquor store, with the exception that their independent beer/cider/beverage selection filled three refrigerators, and the standard miller, Bud collection just one.
The proprietor dutifully checked our IDs – really checked them – he mentioned both of our years of birth. Mark was older than he, I was younger. He pointed us out the back door of the store, which led into a typical looking bar with about a dozen patrons. We passed through the bar and into a garage-like room with several hand built booths, tables and a long bar with stools. Behind this bar was a giant chalkboard listing the beers and ciders they had on tap: a total of 24! The draft spigots were on two side by side pipes, twelve numbered handles each. When you order, the bar keep looks up at the board only to check which type of glass – there were at least six or eight, as far as I could tell – to use: a pint glass for my cider and a snifter for Mark’s beer.
Dinner arrived before I was done ordering the beer. We split the two plate. I started with the Veggie Potskis. This looks like a fried dumpling on the outside, but the inside is filled with a traditional pierogi filling, sauerkraut with mushrooms. As I ate my first bite, my eyes slid closed, and I disappeared in a reverie. Holy crap. Who knew? The onion cream and cheese just completed the experience. Every type of flavor in a delicate balance. Ok, now I need a moment.
Then I had a taste of the special, but not until Mark had already nodded his approval. I can’t even tell you what was in it other then the house sausage. I remember seeing that. This thing was an orgy of flavors, but none overwhelmed any other. Delicious. Just that.
After our first tastes, we were sure we would need to get more food. However, by the time we finished, we found ourselves pleasantly sated, and let it be.
In case you missed them, here are the fusions I noticed:
- Polish/Korean cuisine (toss in a little Quebecoise with the poutine)
- Take out restaurant/liquor store
- Liquor store/bar
- Maria’s standard/Kimski poutine