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Best Kim Chee- Results Coming Soon

The Kim Chee Khaos took place on October 18, 2008, the same day as the Limu Poke Leviathan. Mahalos again to the folks at Luana Hills Country Club for letting us use their facilities.  8 of the best kim chees from the most hole in the wall shops to the popular supermarket brands battled it out in a WOW Grinds Blind Taste Test.  The smell of kim chee was a good way...depending on how much you could handle. The results and rankings are coming soon.

What is kim chee? The Competitors The Planning

Best Kim Chee - Final Results and Rankings

The Kim Chee Khaos went off on October 18, 2008. 8 Kim Chee (Won Bok) spat chili pepper hell fire at each other during a WOW Grinds Blind Taste Test. Some popular local style kim chee brands got chili pepper in da eyes and could not keep up with the more authentically made kim chee competitors. Click "read more" to see the results.


What is kim chee?

I think I only started eating real kim chee about 5-6 years ago when I started eating at the sit down Korean restaurants. Before that, I was eating the more watered down local version of kim chee from the supermarket thinking that was the real deal.  So I'm a baby in the world of kim chee and I don't know too much about what it is or how they make it.  I only heard stuff from Korean friends and other peeps. Here's what I heard...if I'm off base, please leave a comment to correct me. Basically it's vegetables such as cabbage, cucumbers, radish, garlic stem, etc. marinated in choke chili pepper, vinegar and other spices then it's fermented in a jar.  I heard from my Korean friend that they put raw oyster inside to help the fermentation process. People say the hard core kim chee is buried in a jar in the backyard for months to let it ferment in the warm ground. When it's ready to eat, the vegetables have soaked in all the flavors and I guess the fermentation process makes the vegetables all tender and juicy.  The flavor is sour, salty and spicy all at once. Some of the hard core kim chee get one carbonated sensation when you put it in your mouth...kinda like kim chee soda pop. It's usually eaten as a side dish with meals or they use it to make kim chee stew. Some kim chee lovers eat just kim chee with mayonnaise on hot rice. For a kim chee info overload, go to Wikipedia-Kimchi.

Planning the Kim Chee Khaos

Planning the Kim Chee Khaos was made simple by judges Eat And A Smile and Smells Like Fish.  They volunteered to pick up all the kim chees and deliver it to the tasting location. Turns out that Eat And A Smile is a kim chee expert of sorts and knew all these hole in the wall kim chee shops with supa killah kim chee. 

The biggest challenge was deciding what to use as a palette cleanser in between each kim chee. We thought of rice, cracker or bread but that didn't pan out. So we just stuck with the usual water as the palette cleanser. I think water might not have been good enough because some judges commented that after tasting the first 2-3 kim chees, they all started tasting the same. We might need to do a rematch on this challenge using a better palette cleanser. One judge suggested we use a wine called Moscato d'asti as the palette cleanser.  She said it is usually paired with spicy foods cause it counters the spiciness. I think she said it's only about $10 a bottle. Wine sounds just right to me, maybe we go try em.

Other than that, we did the side by side judging style as the other challenges where all the kim chees were lined up with their random letter. Then the judges served themselves in any order they wanted and scored each one. We did weighted scoring again with taste=50%, texture=30% and presentation=20%.

Kim Chee Khaos Competitors

Here are the Kim Chee Khaos competitors and the reasons we selected them to compete.

Halms Kim Chee - This is probably one of the most popular and well-known local style kim chee. You can find this at any of the big supermarket chains in Hawaii. How will this popular local style kim chee stand up to the more authentic ones?

Fort Street Snacks & Sundries - Judge Eat And A Smile, our resident kim chee expert, claimed this one as the best kim chee. She said it's a tiny shop on Fort Street Mall and the kim chee is in one big jar on the counter next to the cash register. If that don't sound like the real deal kim chee, then I don't know what is.

Kewalo Brand - This is another popular brand of local style kim chee that you can find in most of the big supermarket chains in Hawaii.  This one comes in a plastic bag rather than a jar.

Waimalu Supermarket
- This little market is located at the old Marujyu Market location in Waimalu Shopping Center. Must be good because on this Hawaii K-Drama thread, somebody commented that their Omma (Korean for Mother) told them to get their kim chee from Waimalu Supermarket.

Fort Street Sundries & Snacks - We entered this one twice. If the judges were credible then they should score them about the same.

Keeaumoku Produce - This was another hole in the wall place that Eat And A Smile knew about.

Ono Kim Chee - One more hole in the wall shop specializing in all kine kim chee and banchan (Korean side dishes). It's located next door to Keeaumoku Seafood, our 4th place winner in the Shoyu Poke Showdown and the Limu Poke Leviathan. They get one mean paper thin sliced taegu. This place get the garlic stem kim chee too.

Palama Supermarket - Probably one of the most well known Korean markets on Oahu. They have 2 locations in Dillingham and Kaheka. This might be the kim chee Mecca because they have a serve yourself kim chee salad bar that's about 20-30 feet long with about 20 different varieties of kim chee to choose from.

Queen's Supermarket - If Palama Market is the kim chee Mecca, then Queen's Supermarket is the Vatican of Kim Chee. Another well known Korean supermarket on Oahu.

Marukai - Eat And A Smile said she wanted to enter this one on a whim to see how it would do up against the more authentic kim chees.