Earlier this year, The Cub & Bunny Cafe opened at 1206 North Kings Highway in Cherry Hill offering Philadelphia-based Bassett’s ice cream flavors along with bubble egg waffle sundaes. Just last month, they started offering Korean dishes such as rice bowls, Korean pancakes, and even Korean sushi. More about that in a bit.
When owners James and Kim immigrated from South Korea 25 years ago, they settled in South Jersey, raised a family, and operated several nail salons in the local area. Earlier this year, with their daughter grown, they were getting tired of running 10 nail salons and decided to sell all of them and focus on running one small business.
Kim had always dreamed of opening a food business, but with no prior experience, she didn’t want to open a full-sized restaurant or even a food truck. Since they owned the real estate on Kings Highway, she felt that opening a take-out only ice cream shop there would be simple to run and get her foot in the food business door so to speak.
After a successful summer with many new and returning customers raving about Bassett’s ice cream (only a few places carry it in South Jersey), Kim began to think about adding some comfort food dishes especially as the colder weather approaches.
It made sense to offer what she knows – authentic and traditional Korean items such as Bulgogi and chicken rice bowls — and some with a few Americanized twists such as Korean bulgogi and Spicy Pork cheesesteaks and spicy fried chicken to pique curiosity.
A variety of Korean seaweed rolls, or Gimbap, rice rolls that look like sushi rolls, as well as approachable Korean egg pancakes, or pajeon, are also on the menu. The rolls and pancakes can be ordered together as combos encouraging adventurous eaters to explore the menu.
Upon my visit, Kim was gracious to cook for me in her small, but well-stocked kitchen. First, she fried up some kimchi with bacon. I’m a long-time fan of kimchi, but never tried it with bacon. The aroma from pan-frying the spicy kimchi with the rendered bacon was intoxicating. Combining spicy, fermented cabbage with fatty bacon is truly a glorious taste sensation. It was even better when she put it into the Bulgogi beef rice bowl she also prepared for me.
I’ve been eating Korean food for about 20 years. I remember the first time I tried it, I had absolutely no clue what to expect. It was a flavor revelation — the combination of spicy, sweet, sour, and savory all in one mouthful was truly a culinary awakening in me. It opened my mind and palate to keep exploring new cuisines and flavors.
Observing Kim prepare these dishes, I could tell she is leaning on her many years of home cooking, with family recipes, taking great care and putting much thoughtfulness in the preparation of the dishes. Not only was her mise en place well organized, but her calm, methodical approach to cooking demonstrated confidence and natural prowess in the kitchen. I saw her take each component, as it cooked on a small induction cooktop, seasoning as she went to build layers of flavor. What she lacks in commercial cooking experience, she wholly makes up for in traditional Korean home cooking know-how. In other words, she knows how to cook and people should be eating her food!
Each rice bowl comes with Japchae noodles, which are a clear noodle made with sweet potato starch. They are naturally gluten-free and take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked or paired with. The bowls are also packed with lots of fresh vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, mushroom, peppers, and spinach. It’s all mixed together with a slightly spicy sauce, but nothing that will blow your head off. Just lots of lovely, deep flavor and freshness. I am eager to try the rest of the menu now that they are available on Grubhub. Ice cream and Korean food, who knew?
The Cub & Bunny Cafe is open for lunch or dinner seven days a week and available for pick-up or delivery through Grubhub. Hours are Monday-Friday 12:00-8:30PM, Saturday 12:00-9:30PM, and Sunday 3:00-8:30PM.
Call 856-354-9999 to place your order. Then come back here to tell me your thoughts!
Don’t forget to tell them South Jersey Food Scene sent you! This is a new small business in South Jersey worth supporting.
Marilyn is a freelance writer covering the food and drink scene of South Jersey. You can find more of her writing on Philly Grub and NewsBreak.