Kalbi or Kahl-Bee? The large sign and the menu say Kalbi, a traditional Korean grilled meat dish. The parking signs out front and most any info online about this Wilmington Korean restaurant in a strip mall on Kirkwood Highway say Kahl-Bee, the phonetic spelling of kalbi. I'm going with Kahl-Bee since this write up will be online with all the other Kahl-Bee's.
I've known about this Korean restaurant since the day I landed in Wilmington, but have never been until a few weeks ago when my friend Mike suggested we stop in for a lunch date. Why haven't I been until recently? Because they have a kick-ass little Korean grocery store two doors down that I stop in to pick up fresh kimchi and other fresh pickled veggies to make my own bibimbap, my favorite Korean dish, at home. I wrote about this sweet little shortcut a few years ago.
But now that I've visited Kahl-Bee, I can tell you that its a charming little no-frills, but clean, strip mall joint with tables equipped with grills for your Korean grilled meat pleasure. We skipped that fun; the both of us went all-veg.
Kahl-Bee's menu has a small vegetarian section that takes all the vegetarian items under other sections of the menu - appetizers, soups, noodles, etc. - and puts them in one place. So, if you're veg, just skip to the vegetarian section instead of trying to weed out the veg dishes hiding under various headings.
We started with a generously portioned appetizer of scallion pancake. Mike thought the pancakes were a little greasy and could have been a little spicier, and I'll agree that they were greasy, but such is a scallion pancake. The two of us only ate half of this dish, not because it wasn't good, but because we're limiting greasy food intake. I liked the long strips of scallions that really let me know there were scallions in there.
Most Korean restaurants set out dishes of banchan at the beginning of the meal before appetizers or entrees arrive, but at Kahl-Bee our very skimpy selection of five banchan arrived not before our appetizer or before our entrees, but with our entrees. This was just wrong. Hopefully, this was just a one-time fluke.
I talked Mike, a Korean food newbie, into ordering bibimbap, a bowl of rice topped with assorted veggies and a fried egg, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. Sorry, no picture.
In an attempt to get away from my old standbys - bibimbap, kimbap (not on Kahl-Bee's menu!) and jap chae - I ordered the tofu chigae, a soup of firm silken tofu, sweet and hot peppers, onions, and what seemed to be squash in a spicy broth. While I would welcome this bowl of soup any day, this dish just isn't for me. Neither was the soup at Pastoral, a Korean restaurant in Philly, I tried recently. It's not the soup's fault. I'm a carb-loader/lover. Give me rice and noodles.
With only ten vegetarian items on Kahl-Bee's menu, and only two of of those ten that I have not eaten at Kahl-Bee or some other Korean restaurant, I'll probably stick with the grocery store two doors down to concoct my favorites at home, but I'd certainly return to Kahl-Bee any time some friends fancy an outing for Korean food.
2011 Kirkwood Hwy, Wilmington, DE 19808
Mon.-Thurs., 11am-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-9:30pm; Sun., closed