Kimchichanga finds balance in fusion cuisine by bringing together Mexican, Korean flavors

Kelsie Stevens | Banner | Jed Francisco, sophomore business major at University of California Riverside, digs into his kimichanga, a chimichanga filled with bulgogi and topped with siracha and a special mayonnaise sauce.

Merging two separate culinary cultures together can be a difficult task when looking to find the perfect balance of flavor. But that is what the Deeb family set out to do when they created their Korean and Mexican fusion restaurant, Kimchichanga.

Kimchichanga was purchased by the Deeb family in 2012 under a different name. According to Richard Deeb, restaurant manager and owner of Kimchichanga, the businesses underwent a makeover in 2017. It was rebranded, received a new name, and logo, and added a couple new menu items.

“The name Kimchichanga comes from combining the words ‘kimchi’ and ‘chimichanga.’ We thought it would be a fun and different name that makes us memorable,” Deeb said.

To the Deebs, fusion is finding the perfect balance of flavor and quality. While the Mexican taste is present through the use of rice, beans and tortillas, the Korean influence can be tasted in the Sriracha, kimchi, ssam and meats, such as bulgogi and kalbi.

“When we bought the restaurant, it already began developing a fusion concept but was lacking in flavor and quality: —true fusion to be exact. We stepped in and redeveloped existing recipes and incorporated our own. We are always looking for new ways to set us apart,” Deeb said.

Kimchichanga’s most popular items on its menu include a Korean BBQ California burrito, Super Fries, Super Nachos, Kimchi Fried Rice and the dish the restaurant was named after, The Kimchichanga. 

The Kimchichanga is a deep-fried chimichanga served in four slices and stuffed with kimchi, beans, cheese and kalbi. It is then topped with spicy mayonnaise and Sriracha sauces.

Kenan Karabas, freshman civil engineering major, ordered the signature dish to see what the hype was about and quite literally bit off more than he could  chew.

“I ordered The Kimchichanga with short rib. It was larger than I expected and filling. I was only halfway through it,” Karabas said. “The mix of Asian and Mexican food was surprisingly delicious.”

Being in close proximity to the University of California, Riverside, a large portion of Kimchichanga’s guests are UCR students, especially on Taco Tuesdays and Thursdays, when their Korean tacos are only $1.19.  

Kimchichanga has worked closely with the university’s fraternities and sororities, often catering for events and fundraisers.

UCR student Jed Francisco, sophomore business major, visited Kimchichanga for the first time and also ordered the signature Kimchichanga.       

“The food was really good. I really liked the idea of a Korean-Mexican fusion. The atmosphere itself is really homey and the workers were super-nice. I’d definitely go again,” Francisco said.                                                                                    

Kimchichanga is located at 1995 University Ave., Riverside, and is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.—9 p.m. and Saturday  12 p.m.—8 p.m. Meals are also  available through Uber Eats.

Leave a Reply