K Cafe Dishes Guilty Pleasures with Korean Style
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Credit cards accepted: Yes
Average price per person: $7.99546 Niagara Falls Blvd., Buffalo
K Cafe is poised to become a spot where Buffalonians from college students to families go for satisfying food when they’re hungry for a little grease with a lot of flavor. It isn’t a fancy spot, as it has a stark appearance and sparse décor, but the service is warm, friendly, and prompt. It’s the kind of restaurant in which you can’t help but eat a massive amount of food because it is reasonable and the portions are extremely generous. The longer you’re in the homey feeling K Cafe, the more convinced you are that a beloved relative will walk out of the kitchen to greet you at any moment.
My friend and I settled in to sample a series of dishes beginning with the kimchi chicken quesadilla ($6.99), which features a giant white flour tortilla stuffed with Korean barbeque chicken, cheese, and caramelized house kimchi (fermented, spicy Korean cabbage). The hot, sweet, and sour taste of kimchi is the star of this quesadilla, and without it, this would be another boring appetizer. The kimchi offers a unique flavor profile for an addictive treat, as well as a crunchy texture, which is a welcome curveball. In addition, it is served with two unassuming dips—spicy sour cream and a pico de gallo—that keep you repeatedly reaching for one more bite. Just one more bite…
The kogi 50/50, “gangnam style burger,” for $8.99 is a huge offering in both stature and promise: a beef and bacon patty (their signature combination), topped with cheese, kogi beef, caramelized kimchi, a sunny side up egg, chipotle avocado mash, Asian slaw, spicy Korean mayonnaise, and house made ketchup. Rich egg yolk running over the chipotle avocado mash was enough to make me happy with the entire meal, but the restaurant’s spicy mayonnaise had me talking about it fondly the next day. It is not served on praise-worthy bread, but it works well for this home-style burger nonetheless. The meat was cooked as it should be, with just the right amount of sear on the outside and juice on the inside. The burger is served with crispy French fries, and it is truly large in size, so you ought to be committed to a big meal when ordering this dish, or any of the burgers for that matter.
The kogi three taco combo ($6.50) includes one chicken taco on a white flour tortilla shell, one pork taco on a corn tortilla, and a beef taco on a lettuce leaf. Each taco begins with a thick smear of gochujang (a Korean hot sauce akin to a hot pepper paste) on the shell, followed by rice, lettuce, Asian slaw, and scallions. Both the gochujang and the seasoned meat have a slightly sweet and spicy tang. We liked the different shell pairings, but every taco tasted very similar to one another because the toppings did not vary at all. It would be an improvement to have greater distinction in the complements to each taco.
Lastly, we tried “The California,” a grilled cheese sandwich ($7.99), featuring barbeque chicken, bacon, avocado mash, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, eggs, roasted garlic mayo, and the chef’s choice of cheese. On the evening we visited, the cheese was cheddar, but the combination of bacon, avocado, and egg made this sandwich special. The crusty and tender seasoned French bread was memorable and grilled to the optimum golden hue.
We finished our meal feeling stuffed and happy. K Cafe’s food is unpretentious and comforting, but it isn’t ordinary. With warm conversation among the restaurant staff and its patrons, everyone hung around after dinner to enjoy the shared satisfaction that comes from ending a hearty meal.