Diane Kim’s motto is “No shortcuts.”
Kim is the chef-owner of 9 Delicacies, a new Korean fusion restaurant in south Everett.
My twin brother recently joined me there for dinner. While the space is too small to be a fancy, sit-down restaurant — Kim opened the eatery on a shoestring budget in July — 9 Delicacies truly is what it claims to be: delectable.
What it lacks in size, it makes up for in taste.
Kim’s menu offers Korean-inspired dishes cooked in the French technique, from pork belly and Korean fried chicken to spicy cucumber salad and noodle slaw.
I ordered the beef bulgogi melt with caramelized onion, pickled sweet pepper, portobello mushroom, provolone cheese, arugula, jalapenos and hoisin aioli on cibatta bread ($11.95). It’s like a Korean version of the Philly cheesesteak.
The bulgogi, thin marinated slices of grilled beef and a staple of Korean cuisine and the French technique is noted in the way Kim caramelized the onions.
Kim explained that she slowly sautees the onions until they’re golden brown, glazes them with a splash each of red wine and red wine vinegar, and then finishes them with butter. They were fantastic.
I especially liked how the spice from the jalapenos was balanced by the sweetness of the hoisin aoili.
Shane opted for the braised pork shoulder with sauteed kimchi, grilled onion, pickled daikon, cilantro, jalapenos and hoisin aioli on ciabatta bread ($10.95). He called it the “polar opposite” of the bulgogi melt in terms of sweetness and spiciness.
“The relationship between the veggies and the sauce really made it for me,” my brother said.
The two of us shared a plate of menchi katsu, a hand-minced beef and port cutlet breaded and deep-fried with katsu sauce. We agreed it was like a Korean version of barbecue ribs, only breaded.
A native of South Korea, Kim, 43, learned to cook by practicing recipes from her mom’s cookbook as a child. She and her family immigrated to Seattle about 15 years ago and later opened a teriyaki restaurant.
Kim worked at the family restaurant when she was in college. After a stint in web and graphic design, she decided to get back into the restaurant business and become a chef. She earned her degree at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle.
She worked in the kitchen for a couple of French restaurants in Seattle, including one operated by star chef Michael Mina, before deciding to open her own.
The Lynnwood resident describes 9 Delicacies as a synthesis between two worlds: the Korean traditions Kim grew up with and the French technique she learned in Seattle.
“I knew I could combine both together in a way people could have enjoyed,” Kim said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s French or Korean — Americans know when it’s good food.”
She named her restaurant after an ancient Korean meal called gujeolpan, which translates to “a platter of nine delicacies” in Korean. The meal was prepared for Korean royalty dating as far back as the 14th century. Today served at special Korean gatherings such as weddings and birthdays.
Following that tradition, Kim cooks only with the finest and freshest ingredients. Everything but the bread is made from scratch.
Kim says she committed to staying true to her culinary background and family traditions.
Her technique may be subtle, but “it makes a huge difference,” Kim said.
Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @evanthompson_1.
If you go
What: 9 Delicacies
Where: 520 128th St. SW, Suite B8, Everett
When: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
More: 425-512-8167 or www.ninedelicacies.com