At first glance, Chef Kim in Hazelwood Park is a modest and unassuming suburban restaurant. But it’s at the forefront of Adelaide’s Korean cuisine in its most unadulterated form.

The eponymous owner and chef Hyun Ji Kim tells Broadsheet she wants to represent true Korean cooking, which means not compromising for a western palate. “I don’t do Korean style cooking, what I do is real Korean cooking,” she says. “The food I cook in my restaurant is the same as the food I cook for family at home.”

Hyun Ji moved to Adelaide in 2013 from Seoul, South Korea. She had no prior experience as a chef but plenty of ambition, and was impressed by Adelaide’s formidable food scene. But she wanted to distinguish herself from other Korean restaurants around town. Her knowledge of tradition, rather than trade, pushed her to open her own restaurant.

Dishes such as the ubiquitous bulgogi (thin strips of marinated, barbequed beef) and bossam (slow-cooked pork belly) with crisp vegetables in ssamJang (a thick, spicy red sauce) are served alongside hot pots of kimchi stew and spicy beef intestines.

“[Some customers] are hesitant to try some things [but] they find it a rewarding experience in the end,” Hyun Ji says.

Korean barbeque is well represented with the LA Galbi, a 350-gram marinated beef short rib in Chef Kim’s special sauce made with pear, pineapple and onion.

Chef Kim represents a strong mobilised Korean community in the eastern suburbs. “The Korean community is comparatively small, but we are very well organised,” Hyun Ji says proudly. “We Koreans have very strong ties among us. We depend on each other. Without our ties, all this would not be possible.”

Chef Kim
4 Linden Avenue, Hazelwood Park
Mon 5.30-9.30pm
Tues to Thurs 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm
Fri to Sat 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm
Sun closed