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A bar with white subway-style ceramic tiles, a menu featuring pork belly and orange wines by the glass—these are all qualities we love in a restaurant, whether it’s in Brooklyn or not. But innovative? Hardly.
Sure, hip-hop hums in the background at this Bushwick spot (there’s a DJ booth upstairs) as Fila-clad diners slurp bowls of noodles. The food has strong Korean influences that you can find on menus throughout New York—don’t miss the crispy, twice-fried chicken ($11) or the jjajangmyeon ($14), wheat noodles lacquered in a roasted black-bean sauce. But Kichin, which most recently existed as a pop-up, is more than a carbon copy of a Momofuku-ish hangout: It’s a hip but not-too-cool-for-school neighborhood restaurant where the menu is priced gently enough that you could be a regular.
Your best bet is to stick with the most straightforward dishes. The kimchi fried rice ($13) is comfort food at its best, with bits of Spam, mozzarella, corn and an egg to swirl in the bed of grains. The pork belly ($18), sliced thicker than two pancakes, arrives fanned out on a plate with fragrant perilla leaves and ssamjang, a salty-and-sweet Korean dipping sauce made here with sunflower seeds. The mintlike herb is also great in the perilla-leaf jeon appetizer ($8), which folds wood-ear mushrooms and yuba into the greens.
The more creative dishes, like the IG-friendly japchae ($14), tasted underseasoned and one-note, despite the fun contrast of textures among the (slightly overcooked) glass noodles, beets, shiitake and yuba. And while the service is earnest and friendly, some cocktails took forever to arrive, and there were long pauses between certain courses.
But these shareable bites make for a convivial dining experience that will make you forget the missteps. When you leave and hear the rumble of the M train above, you’ll think about how this is not your cookie-cutter Korean place, from the music to the rice cakes paired with halloumi ($12).