Ahri’s Kitchen has been on my radar since its early Kickstarter days. First, let’s start with what I like. It’s downtown Jersey City’s first Korean restaurant. That in itself is great news. The space is nice and cozy (no more than six tables) and it’s currently BYOB. Decor is very minimal and the restaurant has a rustic kind of theme going. I went late Saturday night and the place was half-packed. Music seemed to come from someone’s iPhone (top 40 hits) and I liked that it wasn’t blaring, so you could actually have a conversation. I ordered the Spicy Tofu Stew to go and waited at a table while my food was being prepared. I wasn’t offered water or anything while I waited, but service was friendly.
For $13, I got a large container of tofu stew, white rice, and two very tiny sides of kimchi. Combined it was no more than 3 or 4 spoonfuls of kimchi, which is a shame because the kimchi was delicious. Fiery and hot. I was hoping to get the usual assortment of accompanying dishes, but that too was missing. What you see if what you get at Ahri’s.
Now for the tofu stew. I’m a big seafood lover, so I was very excited to try it, but truth be told — it wasn’t the best I’ve had. It had one shrimp (complete with head and tail), but the rest of the shrimp were the tiny frozen variety. Likewise, the mussels and clams were extremely small (no bigger than a nickel), de-shelled, and overly chewy.
The tofu was smooth and falls apart in your mouth, but my main gripe was that the soup wasn’t very spicy. (Nor did they ask if I wanted it extra spicy). The soup’s scallions and onions were chopped large and coarsely, which you’d think would make for a hearty soup, but I just couldn’t get over the shellfish. We’re all adults here, if I can peel my own shrimp, I can surely pick out the meat from a mussel or clam.
Don’t get me wrong. Ahri’s is a very welcome restaurant to the neighborhood. I’ll support them and be back for more, but for those nights I’m truly craving a Korean banquet, I think I’ll stick with K-Town.
Ahri’s Kitchen | 227 7th Street (corner of Erie) | www.ahriskitchen.com