Kimko Seafood Restaurant is set up to evoke a place one might find in a typical Korean fishing town. It's brightly lit and tidy but feels a bit like a fish market at first blush, which is actually a good sign. After all, fish can't get much fresher than having been swimming around mere moments before serving, as evidenced by the bank of aquariums lining the entrance.
The tanks hold an array of marine invertebrates like sea squirt, abalone, snail, and, remarkably, lobster, an unusual sashimi option by anyone's estimation.
Sashimi and live seafood are what Kimko is known for, but these dishes are only a small part of what is on the menu (which conveniently doubles as a placemat). The bulk of the offerings represent traditional Korean kitchen fare—rice and noodle dishes, various soups and stews, and, of course, barbecued meats like bulgogi (marinated thin-sliced beef) and samgyupsal (sliced pork belly).
There are also some dishes not often seen on menus, like jook (rice porridge) flavored with abalone, sautéed spicy pork with baby octopus, and budae jeongol, a classic camping stew that features a processed meat, usually sausage, but in Kimko's version, SPAM. A buffet is offered during lunch, including a number of cooked-food and sushi combinations.
But as good as the standard Korean offerings are, it is Kimko's live selections that should not be missed, as well as its sashimi platters, which are designated by size (small, medium, and large) and content (standard sushi-style fish or Korean-style flatfish).
Kimko's "sashimi platter"—a multi-course meal—began with a "service" (on the house) amuse-bouche of sorts, a surprisingly complex vegetable porridge. The soup was followed by about a dozen wide-ranging items, including perfectly browned broiled salmon heads and spines, rice crusted in a stone bowl with three kinds of fish roe, steamed fresh snails, spicy chicken gizzards, slivers of squid, and even a whole grilled mackerel.
The "platter" continued with the actual sashimi—tuna, salmon, flounder, and yellowtail perched atop billowing mounds of shredded daikon, notable for the inclusion of engawa, the satisfyingly chewy, hard-to-find fin meat of flounder.
The kicker of our meal is that we ordered the "small" portion, incredibly billed to feed two. It could have fed
a couple more diners. We can only
imagine what the "large" order includes. It's served on a three-foot-long wood plank and has pricier components like sashimi lobster.
Ambitious diners can choose from daily live specials such as grilled eel and octopus, which have been made famous by cable food and travel shows. The latter seafood sells out quickly, so call ahead if that's in your sights.
Service is friendly and well-intentioned, but the language barrier can be an issue for some of the more challenging menu items.