If you’re a part of the local NJ/NY food scene, you may have heard of Chef Robert Austin Cho. For a while, he showed up here & there with this idea of “Kimchi Smoke” at pop-ups, food truck festivals, and eventually in 2015 he opened his own BBQ shack in Bergenfield, NJ. I was first introduced to his work at the Thrillist Taco Knockout in 2015 with his Chonut Taco with ramen crumble.
His Bergenfield spot was an instant hit, attracting foodies and even the town mayor! But fortunately (and unfortunately) Rob’s dream grew too big for the 6-seater location and has now moved north to Westwood. But, of course, that won’t stop me from getting my favorite South-Meets-South (Korea & Texas) BBQ! As of this post, the new location is in “soft opening” mode but I’m sure grand opening details are coming soon.
Just a disclaimer, I am no stranger to Kimchi Smoke. I make it a priority to try something new every time, which is not impossible since Rob adds new menu items pretty often! But what I love about the new Westwood location is that it gives a very “fast casual” ambience now:
Ordering is a cinch and you’re always greeted with a friendly face! Cash and card are both accepted. Be sure to ask for today’s specials!
The decor represents the idea of South Korean / Southern BBQ very nicely. Some things are carried over from the first location but some are new & fill up the space very nicely.
But onto the food! In no particular order, here are some of my favorites. As previously mentioned, certain items may not always be available (for example, the Chonut pictured below is a Friday/Saturday special) and the restaurant is only open Wednesday to Saturday to begin with. Plus, things could sell out before closing so get there sooner rather than later!
Chonuts are life-changing, thanks to the amazing powers of the glazed donut bun from Glaze! If you’re lucky, Rob may even be packing the glazed donut with sprinkles! Brisket, Fatboy BCS, Smoked Kimchi, Bacon & Cheese on a Glazed Donut Bun. Believe me, the sweet & savory combo is what’s going to change your life.
But if donuts are too conventional for you, then how about a ramen bun?
I’d recommend this to pro-sandwhich eaters. It’s a messy one, but oh-so worth it!!! Brisket, Fatboy BCS, Smoked Kimchi, Bacon and Cheese on a Ramen Bun! And again, sometimes you’ll run into variations of this classic, like swapping the brisket with Korean bulgogi!
Next up is one of my favorites, but let’s be honest… these are all my favorites. But while we’re on the topic of ramen, why not some ramen fried chicken? You read that right: RFC.
Chicken tenders (emphasis on the tender) dipped in soju batter coated with ramen, freshly fried, and topped with sweet gochu sauce. But watch out, this one’s really, really limited. If it comes up on the menu, do NOT hesitate! And if you’re really lucky, you’ll encounter the perfect trifecta: Ramen Fried Chicken Chonut with Sprinkles! What??
And if sandwiches aren’t your thing, fear not. Presenting: Cholander Fries!
#RidiculouslyGood – We’re talking about french fries loaded with Fatboy BCS, Smoked Kimchi, Cheese, Scallions, and Pulled Pork! This isn’t your average appetizer…
And this isn’t your average rice bowl:
Seriously, guys, Rob knows what he’s doing. The Texas BCS Rice Bowl is my favorite non-sandwich dish at Kimchi Smoke. It’s smokin’! Pork shoulder, Fatboy bourbon chipotle sauce, chili, kimchi, remoulade, and slaw… all over rice. AKA flavor bomb in a bowl.
But last but not least, it would be very remiss of me not to mention his championship ribs. Comes in medium or large, but either way it’s got HUGE taste. I don’t know how he does it but you’ll have to try for yourself.
The list goes on and on but even though Kimchi Smoke’s moved to a farther location, it’s worth the drive every single time. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend you give it a try! Be sure to follow them on Instagram for mouth-watering pics & announcements, and check out their amazing reviews on Yelp too!