Address: 710 Gladstone Ave, Ottawa
Hours: 12 – 8pm (Sun); 11:30am – 9pm (Mon, Wed – Sat); closed Tuesdays (hours may vary during/after pandemic)
Website: Social media only
Late in the summer of 2020, Kitchen Maroo, a Korean restaurant with fusion leanings, quietly replaced Gina’s Café at Gladstone and Bronson. Since then, they’ve been stacking up accolades in local publications, as well as on social media, so it was only natural that I try them out.
On my first time there early in the new year, I had their famous bulgogi beef sandwich ($15) in my sights, and tacked on a half order of their Korean fried chicken ($20) for my wife.
Pick-up was easy, with them less than a 10-minute walk from our apartment, and you can either call in or hit them up on UberEats.
I know contemporary Korean food has been heavily influenced by the post-war American military presence and general cultural influence, but I feel like the bulgogi beef sandwich is a Kitchen Maroo original, since I haven’t seen it at any other Korean place. The sliced and grilled beef was lightly sweet from its marinade, and paired well with the other umami-boosting ingredients – sautéed mushrooms, cheese, garlic butter, and mayo. The toasted baguette was dense enough to hold this all together, but wasn’t tough to chew.
Roasted potatoes on the side seemed like an odd item to include but they were well executed and plentiful. A cup of miso soup added further warmth and richness with its wilted greens and tofu.
The half portion of Korean fried chicken that we ordered was theoretically for my wife, but its size – literally half of a chicken, comprising 11 bone-in pieces – meant that both of us would be having plenty of this in the coming days. The batter was moderately airy, light and crisp, and enveloped the tender and moist meat.
I wouldn’t say it’s the best KFC I’ve ever had, but it’s very, very good. We had ordered the sweet and spicy sauce to go with it (on the side automatically; garlic soy is the other option), which was well balanced between its two namesake flavours. A cup of diced pickled daikon provided its standard funk as a counter to the rich fried chicken.
On a return visit later in the winter, I decided to dive further into the menu with their pork cutlet plate ($15). My wife, having loved it before, went with the half order of fried chicken again.
When I opened the takeout container, I was impressed that the pork, panko-crusted and deep fried, seemed to be a whole sirloin pork chop and not the thin, schnitzel style. A mild curry sauce cemented the Japanese tonkatsu influence on this dish. Steamed rice and some roasted veg rounded out the plate, along with miso soup.
Round two of Korean fried chicken was just as good as the first!
Don’t let Kitchen Maroo’s unremarkable location fool you, they’re putting out great food – no matter what label you want to give it.