Bite-size Review: Cali Kitchen in Gyeongnidan
Throughout Gyeongnidan and HBC, new restaurants and cafes are popping up faster than moles on the golf course in Caddyshack. The latest opening is Cali Kitchen, which marks the first foray into bricks-and-mortar for Chuck Chun, who brought us the popular pop-up Chuck’s Table in recent months.
Unusually for the area, Chuck has decided to open on a Monday, which is great news for us long-suffering HBC residents whose days off fall at the beginning of the week rather than the more usual weekend. So I dropped in to see what was what.
[UPDATE, JULY 2017: This location has now closed, with Cali Kitchen reopening a little further up the street in more spacious premises. See my review for more information.]
Cali Kitchen occupies the spot previously occupied by a trendy curry place much beloved of the Tasty Road crowd, but apparently not beloved enough. That accounts for the slightly odd blue chocolate-box decor, which may or may not survive into the future.
The menu’s still very much in its introductory soft-open phase (as are the prices, possibly). Burgers, burritos and chili all feature, as do some good beers. I decided to get a burrito, with a choice of carnitas or carne asada. The carnitas was recommended to me, and I am a sucker for slow pulled pork, so that was what I picked, with some extra guacamole packed in there for an extra 3,000 won.
Good choice. The burrito came out freshly made to order with a little side dish of salsa. I was pleased to see that it was properly Andy-sized.
Biting into it gave me a good hit of coriander (cilantro) and plenty of soft, succulent pork. There were some black lentils in there rather than the more traditional beans – a change-up of which I thoroughly approve – as well as some corn, which personally I’m less wild about, but whatever. The ratio of fillings to rice was also pleasingly generous.
As I went on, the guacamole began to assert itself – lots of garlic in there, it was far better than some of the anaemic guac you get here in Seoul.
Sold. A really good burrito. The owners were friendly and chatty and I didn’t want to leave the airconditioned goodness of Cali Kitchen. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves and grows into the neighbourhood. With Revolucion just up the hill for an after-dinner beer, this neighbourhood continues to move onward and upward.
- Category: American
- Price: $$$$
- Must try: The burritos. Mind you, it’s the only thing I’ve tried, so who knows?
- Subway: Noksapyeong exit 2
- Directions: Come out of Noksapyeong exit 2 and walk up towards Namsan / HBC. Cross the road at the underpass and walk up Gyeongnidan-gil. Turn right at Maloney’s Pub, and Cali Kitchen is just a few metres further, on the left hand side.
- Hours: Open 7 days for lunch and dinner, with a mid-afternoon break. Check out their FB page for more details.
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