by Nicole Picard, Guest Contributor
Chi Kitchen is a woman-led business that focuses on doing one thing very, very well: fermented kimchi. The business is rooted in family, driven by passion, and guided by its mission to provide healthy, delicious Asian foods in an approachable way.
How did Chi Kitchen start?
Chi Kitchen’s founder and owner, Minnie Luong, was born on a rice farm in Vietnam, and grew up in Pawtucket, RI, surrounded by a self-described “food-centric family.” Because finding Asian ingredients in the local grocery store was difficult when she was a child, Minnie’s father fished for squid, grew his own herbs and vegetables, and made weekly grocery trips to Boston’s Chinatown so he could cook authentic Vietnamese meals with real ingredients.
With this foundation in fresh, flavorful cooking, Minnie set off to become a chef. She found success in Boston for about a decade before moving her skills to the culinary scene in Los Angeles. After years in the industry, Minnie was inspired to start her own business with the goal of providing consumers with accessible options for healthy Asian food. Motivated by this and her affection for Rhode Island, Minnie moved back to the Ocean State in 2015 and founded Chi Kitchen.
How does Chi Kitchen make kimchi?
Chi Kitchen’s probiotic-packed kimchi is hand crafted in small batches in the traditional Korean style using high-quality ingredients that Minnie sources from local organic farms as often as possible. The heat of the Korean red pepper powder in Chi Kitchen’s kimchi is countered by a unique spice blend resulting in a balanced flavor profile and a medium spice level.
Chi Kitchen has focused on and perfected two kimchi products — Traditional Napa and Vegan. The Traditional Napa kimchi contains first-press extra virgin fish sauce fermented with wild-caught black anchovies. To make its kimchi accessible to people following plant-based diets, Chi Kitchen crafts its vegan kimchi using non-GMO miso in place of fish sauce.
Where is Chi Kitchen and where can I buy kimchi?
Chi Kitchen has a production facility in Pawtucket, RI, and both the Traditional Napa and Vegan kimchi can be found in stores and and farmers markets throughout New England — including the Farm Fresh Winter Market, open every Saturday, 9am-1pm, from November 7, 2020 through April 24, 2021. You can also purchase jars through Farm Fresh RI’s Market Mobile local food delivery service (marketmobile.org).
In 2020, Chi Kitchen launched two new products: fermented sesame slaw and fermented kimchi pickles. Like its kimchi, Chi Kitchen worked to perfect these recipes before bringing them to customers, focusing on achieving not only ideal flavors and consistency, but also the perfect color.
With plans for expansions into other Northeast markets, and perhaps farther, Chi Kitchen continues to fulfill its mission and follow its philosophy of making healthy Asian foods approachable and available to everyone who loves crazy delicious Asian flavors.
Interested? Try a jar of kimchi, sesame slaw, or kimchi pickles! Or check out the Chi Kitchen website, chikitchenfoods.com, if you’re not quite ready to let your taste buds do the exploring.