5 Best Kimchi Dishes

Kimchi—the pungent, spicy, fermented cabbage that’s a staple in Korean cooking—is no longer hard to find on local menus now that there are a couple of new Korean restaurants in town.

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Kimchi—the pungent, spicy, fermented cabbage that’s a staple in Korean cooking—is no longer hard to find on local menus now that there are a couple of new Korean restaurants in town. It might be a bit of an acquired taste, but it’s totally worth that perhaps-surprising first bite. Kimchi is loaded with fun flavor and red pepper spice and tastes great alongside many dishes. If you aren’t addicted to kimchi yet, give it a try. Korean eateries are the perfect place to sample new-to-you flavors. Often the dishes at Soo’s, Jin’s and Golden Korean come with banchan, a whole bunch of delicious side dishes that are shared among the table, creating the perfect setting for food exploration with friends. So head over there (or to Bibiya or Yum Yum Bowl) to try our five favorite dishes that feature kimchi. 


1. Kimchi Fried Rice 
$7.95 at Bibiya
4121 S. Fremont Ave., Springfield, 417-882-0077
Why We Love It: This is a simple dish without a ton of ingredients, but it has such a complex flavor that it impresses us every time we eat it. Served in a super-hot stone bowl, this fried rice is made with plenty of kimchi—so much, in fact, that the whole bowl of rice is red. There’s a spicy note in every single bite. It’s not so spicy that it burns your mouth, but it isn’t mild either. It’s difficult not to go back for bite after delicious bite. And the hot stone bowl presentation is perfect: The rice keeps cooking in the places where it touches the inside of the bowl, giving you a few bites here and there of chewy-crispy extra-cooked spicy rice. It’s sizzling hot love in a stone bowl, and we can’t get enough.

2. Kimchi Chigae
$8.95 at Soo’s Korean Restaurant
3644 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-889-2220
Why We Love It: If you like soup, and you like spicy, then this is your dish. The kimchi chigae soup at Soo’s arrives at the table in a stone bowl, and it’s so hot that it’s boiling! It’s packed with tons of kimchi, chunks of firm tofu, scallions and a little bit of beef. (Bonus: It can also be ordered meat-free and vegetarian-friendly.) Your first bite will be a bit of a spicy shock, especially if you’re not used to the fermented tang of kimchi (perhaps this is not a dish for kimchi novices). But with each bite thereafter, this soup is nothing but warm comfort. 

3. Kimchi Jeon

$5.99 at Jin’s Korean
2185 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-501-8630
Why We Love It: Ever had jeon? If not, don’t fear the unfamiliar word. It’s basically just a pancake! An eggy pancake filled with tasty ingredients. Some come with seafood inside. Some are made with veggies. We found one at Jin’s Korean that’s packed with kimchi. The pancakes are lightly pan-fried, with a soft center. Break off chunks and dip them into the delicious kinda-sweet sauce that comes on the side. It sort of neutralizes the tang of the kimchi in this appetizer, which really isn’t very spicy at all.


4. Pork Belly Kimchi Fried
$14.95 at Golden Korean
1406-A W. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-832-1093 
Why We Love It: Who doesn’t love a little pork belly, right? In this dish from Golden Korean’s huge menu, pork belly and kimchi are fried in a spicy sauce. It is served with little blocks of silky tofu, which help to ease the burn of the spicy parts of this meal. Extra bonus: The dish comes with warm rice and plenty of banchan side dishes for the whole table.

5. Kalbi Steak Bowl with Kimchi
$7.47 at Yum Yum Bowl
706 E. Battlefield, Springfield, 417-882-3644
Why We Love It: This is the perfect option for someone who has never tried kimchi before. The dish is made up mostly of rice or noodles (you pick) topped with Korean-style grilled beef tenderloin and some tasty stir-fried vegetables. Plus, there’s also just a little bit of kimchi on top. For people who are new to kimchi, it’s a great way to try it without committing to a dish that’s jam-packed with that spicy cabbage goodness.

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