Wow Your Taste Buds at O'Kims: A Korean Fusion Gem in Honolulu

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii

Looking for a great restaurant in Honolulu? For some of the most creative and delicious food head to the historic Honolulu Chinatown. O'Kims restaurant seamlessly blends Korean food and Hawaiian ingredients with a menu of hits that you won't find anywhere else but in Hawaii!

"The secret is butter. Nice butter. Expensive butter," says Hyun Kim the owner and chef at O'Kims in Honolulu's Chinatown. You wouldn't necessarily think that butter is a key ingredient at a Korean restaurant but at O'Kims the offering is Korean fusion.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii

The name O'Kims is actually a Korean phrase that translates to "Wow Kim's". Back in 2016 O'Kims was a takeaway only hop and occupied a smaller space nearby in Chinatown. It became so popular that in 2019 they moved and became a restaurant. It's a welcoming space with an indoor section and a bamboo fringed courtyard in the rear.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii

I'm dining with my friends local food writers Melissa @melissa808 and Ritsuko @pookho_hawaii this evening and Hyun is busy whizzing past but she stops to deliver a one liner or to check how we are doing. O'Kims is not licensed but the drinks list has some nice sodas. I love the lilikoi or passion fruit soda which is perfectly dry. The strawberry soda is for those who like their drinks a bit sweeter.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii
Truffle Mandoo $10.95USD

Each month Hyun designs their monthly specials and this month has some incredible choices. Take the truffle mandoo dumplings-they're vegan and made with mushrooms and truffle with four types of mushrooms, zucchini and mushroom paste. They come with a crisp lacey skirt on them and cubes of shoyu jelly and pickled daikon. Holy heavens they're delicious, and it's not that often that a vegan dish is one of the many standouts of the menu.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii
Mentaiko Kimbab $11.95

The kimbab is unlike other kimbab. Instead of using regular nori sheets Hyun uses Gamtae nori, a feathery light seaweed sheet made of little wisps of seaweed that resemble grass. It is rolled around a filling of purple rice, metaiko (cod roe) and eggs. This is another delightful special and I'm just glad that I tried these two dishes while I was there.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii
Calamari Pancake $19.95USD

O'Kims calamari pancake is an example of a classic Korean dish but made extra. Not only is there calamari, onion and green onion inside the wonderfully crisp pancake but there is deep fried calamari on top as well. The crisper than crisp pancake comes with two dipping sauces: a honey mustard (great for the fried tentacles on top) as well as a soy based sauce with daikon for the pancake.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii

All of the food comes with a range of piquant pickles from cabbage, cauliflower and capsicum pickles to delicious house made kimchi.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii
Confit Pork Belly Brulee $18.95USD

The item that I honed in on when I was looking at the menu late one night in bed (it's me, hi, I'm the problem it's me) is the confit of pork belly brulee. The pork belly slices are topped with miso sauce, apple ginger jam, purple rice and come with a side salad of green salad and house-made kimchi. This and the seaweed salmon are the two most popular dishes and it's easy to see why. The pork belly absolutely melts in the mouth and is balanced with the earthy miso sauce and apple ginger jam.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii
Bibimbab Stone Pot $28.95USD

If you're hankering for more classic Korean dishes then try the Bibimbab stone pot. Again Hyun has levelled it up with Washugyu beef, a half American and half Japanese beef that just melts in the mouth. All of the vegetables have so uch flavour to them especially the thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms. Drizzle over some chilli sauce and mix in that sunny side egg and forage around for those prized crispy bits of rice.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii
Seaweed Salmon $21.95USD

The other most popular dish and Melissa's favourite is the seaweed salmon. The secret to this is the butter as Hyun told us. The salmon fillet is poached in butter and topped with a delicious combination of panko breadcrumbs and seaweed powder. It is paired with Korean remoulade, tosazu gelee and pickled tomato to give the fish acidity. Make sure to get some of that delicious seaweed topping in every bite. It comes with a green salad with house made black sesame dressing.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii
Lychee Sorbet with Lemon Sabayon $9.95USD

There are a few desserts on offer and this is a new dessert which is three scoops of refreshing and sweet lychee sorbet. It sits on a bed of lemon sabayon with salty, crisp taro chips.

O'Kims, Honolulu, Hawaii
Elote Ice Cream $13.95USD

The elote or corn ice cream is made using a corn mold and is filled with vanilla ice cream. When corn is in season they stud it with fresh corn kernels but since it isn't in season in winter they use cornflakes. It's topped with marshmallows, white chocolate and strawberry powder. But really I'd suggest ordering more of those dumplings, salmon or pork belly as a comeback course.

So tell me Dear Reader, do you like fusion cuisine? When you travel do you seek out food that you can't get anywhere else?

NQN was a guest of O'Kims but all opinions remain her own.


1028 Nuuanu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96817, United States

Open Monday to Saturday 11 am–3 pm, 5–9 pm

Closed Sunday

Phone: +1 808-537-3787

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