Charim Korean Restaurant, $$ 4123 Oechsli Ave Louisville, KY 40241
I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about Charim for months and have been dying to try it. The most common complaint I came across was that unlike many popular Korean restaurants, Charim does not have grills at the table. I find this complaint to be similar to folks who think every Japanese restaurant and sushi bar should have a hibachi grill (in case you aren’t aware, the Benihana style dining is an American invention). While Korean BBQ exists in Korea, it’s not the only Korean food. There’s a whole world of Korean eats out there.
Charim’s interior is simple, quiet, and classy. It’s not over the top, the price point is a little higher than other similar establishments for the area.
Food came to the table piping hot. You can see the steam swelling off of it.
We started off with some Mandu, a fried vegetable dumpling served with what seemed to be a chili soy sauce. Of course, we had many different Korean banchan, or side dishes, to accompany our meal. Our first entree was Bulgogi, grilled marinated beef that was served sizzling on a cast iron plate with bright vegetables and green onion. The Bulgogi was tender and flavorful and the portions that sat on the hot cast iron plate had the perfect amount of caramelized flavor. In addition, we ordered the Godeung uh Jorim, a whole mackerel that was stewed with Korean radish, spices, and onion. The rich and oily mackerel’s meat was delicious with the juicy stewed radish which had sucked up so much flavor and spice. We tempered the perfect amount of heat off the chili laden mackerel with a incredibly sticky and chewy brown rice. It was enough heat to get your blood going but still enjoy the flavors.
My favorite, however, was the Kimchi. Kimchi isn’t rare in this town but Charim’s Kimchi is the Kimchi I dream about. Crunchy and juicy, full of delicate flavor without a strong aroma. Each bite cleaned our palette so we could revisit the other flavors on the table.
The owner and chef was kind enough to visit our table after our meal and take the time to talk to us about the food and ingredients. She explained how, though it was labor intensive and difficult, she made everything by hand and by scratch. Her handmade approach was definitely reflected in our meal.
I want to close by explaining why I think Charim is working it’s way to my favorite Korean haunt. I think the food tastes very fresh with attention to diverse detail. Charim’s food is not only full of delicate, well balanced flavor, but also prepared with care. The owner is lovely to chat with. Our meal ended up feeling like we were a guest in a comfortable home, rather than a restaurant.