Bicycles tring and run lazily through the dusty lanes of Humayunpur. The environs are shadowed with leaves and dotted with the boards of Tibetan and Chinese restaurants. For a long time after the mushrooming of a little bit of Naga, some Nepali, and lots of Manipuri cuisine in the area, though, not much happened. So when we heard news of a new “Korean café”, we readily strolled through a conundrum of alleyways to reach Kori’s.
It isn’t too dissimilar from many cafés in Majnu ka Tila: a counter that draws immediate attention, seats a mix of couches and chairs. We settle in and hint to a waitress for help whilst reading through the selection of kimbab on the menu. What, for example, is “dakgalbi”? “Chicken,” we are told. The menu says that already. Wishing for some sort of Shazam for food, we try to persuade our server that we deserve more detail. “It’s chicken. You don’t know chicken?” she says. Whether ignorance or defense mechanism, we plead to speak to someone better informed. A new server finally explains that it’s fried chicken.
Our order of kimchi jeon (Korean pancakes), veggie kimbab and chicken japchae (glass noodles) arrive haphazardly. Kimbab arrives first, and passes muster: the carrot, cucumber and pickled radish crunchy; the nori especially good. Chicken japchae comes next, and turns out to be the best part of the meal. Glass noodles and chicken are soft, with zucchini, carrot and tamago adding another dimension. Dusted with sesame seeds, it is served at the ideal temperature: hot enough to be tasty but not soggy or overcooked.
The kimchi pancakes - said to be an appetiser on the menu - arrive last. The kimchi is strong but the pancakes sadly oily and totally inedible. We persist, bite after bite, to see if there’s something we’re missing, but the grease makes it impossible to relish it at any stage. A “corn silk” drink on the tea menu catches our eye, and we think it might be a good way for our palates to forget the ordeal. What arrives is a teabag concoction that tastes very much like genmaicha. The corn silk lends it a certain heaviness that isn’t otherwise characteristic of caffeine-free infusions.
Kori’s menu also oddly has cheesy garlic bread, chicken popcorn, burgers and sandwiches. We wonder whether this is a general lack of faith in holding its own, or a clever targeting of hungry college students. They might need it: Delhi has some good Korean food, even if scarce, and Kori’s isn’t The Shim Tur or Gung. Still, for that japchae, we’d be happy to return. Throw in some rice wine and we might even work up a routine. You know, for Soju Think You Can Dance.
Getting there: R-62/1, Humayunpur, Safdarjung Enclave. A meal for two costs around Rs 1,000.
Accessibility: Easy ground-floor access, a five-minute walk from most parking spots.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
This review was contributed by Vritti Bansal, founder-editor of Binge.
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