The new Kim-Chi Grill introduces Korean barbecue and other Asian fusion specialties to Bonita Springs.
Bonita residents Chef James Boyle and his wife, Satika, launched their new restaurant on Nov. 14 in The Center of Bonita Springs on the northwest corner of Bonita Beach Road and U.S. 41.
“She’s half Thai. I’m half Thai,” Chef Boyle said. “My mother had two Thai restaurants (in Miami) while I was growing up. We used to own a Southern BBQ place in Estero called the Tubby Pig. Irma blew it away (after only three weeks).”
Boyle also honed his culinary skills as executive chef at Fish Restaurant in The Village Shops on Venetian Bay in Naples, the Lucky Mi Noodle House at the Seminole Casino in Immokalee and at Olde Florida Golf Club on the eastern end of Vanderbilt Beach Road in Golden Gate Estates. The Miami native studied at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and was recruited by The Duck & Dumpling in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he learned Chinese cooking, he said.
The Boyles’ new venture in Bonita features Korean barbecue, dim sum and upscale Chinese takeout. “It’s fusion — a little Koren barbecue, a little Chinese, a little Thai, lots of dumplings, all homemade from scratch. No MSG,” Boyle said, noting that his dim sum dumplings are a personal favorite. “All the dumplings are handmade in house. It’s a process. The rice we use is jasmine rice. Everything’s fresh.”
The restaurant, of course, is named for kimchi, the traditional pickled cabbage that is the national food of South Korea and complements many Korean dishes. The flavorful fermented dish is popular for its health benefits. “It’s a condiment. It’s a pickle,” Boyle said. “It’s pungent, a little spicy, a little sweet.”
Boyle stresses that Kim-Chi Grill is not a run-of-the-mill Chinese takeout eatery. “For General Tso’s Chicken, we marinate the chicken breast and we make our own batter and fry it,” he said. “All the marinades for the Korean barbecue we make. We don’t buy the sauces. The pork belly we confit it eight hours and then we cure it.”
Specialties include pepper steak, sesame chicken and volcano scallops, which tosses lightly breaded and wok-fried scallops in a house-made chili-garlic sauce and serves them in a moo shu pancake bowl and tops them with crispy garlic and scallions. The menu includes Korean barbecue bowls, wok entrees, fried rice and noodles, and dim sum such as pork belly bao buns and crab rangoon.
Handheld items include Bulgogi beef cheesesteak sandwiches and Korean tacos with kimchi slaw and gochujang aioli. Teppanyaki grilled lunch specials, served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, feature chicken, steak, shrimp or tofu with rice, vegetables, yum yum sauce, soup and a spring roll.
“I’ll probably expand the menu some more getting into season and we’re going to focus more on a lot of seafood done Asian-style, so whole fish, razor clams, grouper, snapper,” Boyle said. “And we’ll have a happy hour once we get beer and wine in — and soju, which is a type of sake from Korea.”
The 1,285-square-foot restaurant at 3300 Bonita Beach Road, unit 123, has 28 seats in the former space of China Wok. It’s between Bahia Bowl and Subway and is a few doors down from Petar’s Restaurant. Kim-Chi Grill is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.