I’d reference the migratory cliché’s of Mexicans and Koreans if only us Pinoys are immune from the same. But, no. If anything, there are more similarities among Mexicans, Koreans and Pinoys than meets the eye. Across the board, there’s fanatical religiosity, extended families more knotted than their declared tightly-knit, some generational and cultural scarring from some or several foreign occupations, what appears to be contentment with discontent and other sweeping generalizations. That last one was a disclaimer. Across the border, the American Dream. Of course, there’s the love of food. I’ll admit I thread myself through the uncomfortable knots at family gatherings only for the good stuff.
Downtown L.A. comes down to town via Señor Kimchi, one of the first purveyors of the MexiKor food trend on the Island. Fusion cuisine can quickly morph into confusion but Mexican and Korean seem to marry well with similarities in punch and layered flavors. Both intricately layered and spiced, the divide is set between the earthier in the former to the tart and funky of the latter.
Extra-large brown mushrooms are stuffed with crab meat and cream cheese, battered and deep-fried, split, sprinkled with cilantro and drizzled with homemade spicy aioli in their Mushroom Poppers. The blank slate earthiness of the mushrooms make for a great base for the savory cheese and the briny Kani. As with anything, frying made it golden. Cilantro anchored Asia with the aioli putting it along the spice trade route of old. Easily my personal favorite, it’s aptly named as there is a tendency to just keep popping a piece after another into your mouth.
Heat and punchy vegetals from local Red Peppers replace mushrooms in Señor Kimchi’s second bestseller appetizer item, Pepper Bombs. These make great secondaries for a slow build-up of the spice intensities.
Lacto-Vegans are represented with the Jalapeno Quesadillas. Cheddar Cheese and Jalapeno pieces are sandwiched between soft Flour Tortillas, quartered and drizzled yet again with that addictive homemade Spicy Aioli.
A glocal nod to the fusions come by way of the Pandesal Sliders, among their house specials. The everyday-everyman explodes with baby spring onions, shredded greens and local tomato slices topped with spicy aioli with your choice of meat — in our case, Bulgogi Beef. The soy sauce, sugar, garlic and black pepper combination in the marinade is not quite unlike local preps. Eomeoni comes in with sesame oil profusions of scallions, onions and ginger to push the flavor beyond bistek to SoKor.
Flour tortillas are quite versatile in that they can carry assortments of toppings that usually work. Fresh Kimchi Slaw and homemade pepper paste top Spicy Pork in Señor Kimchi’s Korean BBQ Tacos. A special Tropical Salsa with mangoes pay homage to local pride.
Rice is an unnecessary starch in my book but there is no denying the beautiful combination of the spicy pungency of Kimchi on plain, boiled rice. A stir-frying to fuse the two is quite the Korean alchemist’s trick with Red Bell Peppers, Onions and Carrots figuring in as aromatics in the Kimchi Fried Rice. A generous topping of Bulgogi Beef and an oozy fried egg stood solid proteins.
A variety of local and imported beers are available but the obvious choice was a Corona. Mexican-American, you know? DTLA. This light, easy beer is pleasantly malty with a latent tartness brought about by that lemon wedge. Perfect for the bright and easy dining atmosphere packed with chic downtown details and arresting, thematic graffiti. Rough finishes, patchy tiling, “rusted” pendant lights, reclaimed wood look and bursts of color. The City of Angels may still be a US VISA approval away but it might as well be right smack in the new neighborhood of Axis Entertainment Center. Si, señor, at Señor Kimchi.
Señor Kimchi is located at Axis Entertainment Center / Vibo Place, Escario, Cebu City.