7 June 2024

Five minutes with Nicky Kim, Nicky's

| Lucy Ridge
Max and Nicky stand in front of print with anchovies.

Max Owens and Nicky Kim are the owners of Nicky’s in Dickson. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Who are you?

I’m Nicky Kim. I’m the co-owner and chef at Nicky’s, a cafe in Dickson. I grew up in Korea and came to Australia about 15 years ago.

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

I always liked cooking but I never really thought I’d be a chef. When I was 17, I got a job washing dishes, and then the manager said, “Do you want to make sandwiches?” and I said, “Why not?” It grew from there.

What is your food philosophy?

Simple, approachable food. It’s nothing crazy. I don’t necessarily believe that expensive or unusual ingredients make the most delicious food, sometimes it’s just simple vegetables cooked well.

What’s a food that reminds you of your childhood?

Definitely my Grandma’s kimchi pancake. She would always add gochujang paste, so it was a bit more spicy and a bit gooey rather than crispy.

Green A-frame sign reading NICKYS in bold white print.

Nicky’s is in the space formerly occupied by Moo & Chick and Sfoglia. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

What is your favourite or must-use ingredient when cooking?

I use a lot of soy sauce in dishes you might not expect or even notice. I tend to reduce the amount of salt and instead use soy to season Western food. I wouldn’t advertise our roast chicken bagel as soy-marinated chicken, but it’s there to boost the umami and season it.

What’s an underrated Canberra venue that you love?

Dada in Woden. It’s not that well known, but I really like their restaurant, and they make delicious food. It’s kind of unique and really well presented. Everything is made in-house, even the ice creams and bread, and it’s just really impressive food.

READ ALSO How much should a cup of coffee cost?

Who do you admire in the Canberra food scene?

Chef Malcolm from Pilot is a really good teacher. There are things I definitely learnt from him in terms of his approach to ingredients and how to build flavour profiles. He taught me how to work hard and play hard!

Any foods you’re obsessed with right now?

There’s this dish that only Happy’s Chinese does. They’re like the oldest Chinese restaurant in Canberra. They make this fookien style fried rice which is basically stir fried rice with egg underneath and then they cover it with so much seafood in this thickened sauce. I’ve never seen it anywhere else but I absolutely have to order it every time I go. If it’s a special occasion, you order that with chilli beef, or if I have a night when I can’t be bothered to cook, I’ll just order that for takeaway.

It’s so good, and it’s not even that expensive!

Happy's Restaurant sign

Happy’s Restaurant is a Canberra icon. Photo: Happy’s.

Who are your biggest foodie influences?

I’m a good friend of Chef Cho at Highroad. His cooking style and food philosophy have been inspiring me recently. He has a background in French cuisine, but he’s not afraid to experiment. He’s a great chef, and I’ve learnt a lot from him recently.

What are you excited about at Nicky’s?

We’re going to change the menu soon. We wanted to be very approachable when we first opened last year because we didn’t want to scare people off. But now that people know us a bit more and we have some regulars, I’d like to make the menu a little more unique and present things in more of my style.

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What was your dream job as a kid?

Win the lottery! Or maybe a soccer player – but I figured out that wouldn’t work at about age nine.

An easy one to finish – what’s your go-to drink order?

I like to start the day with a batch brew; I don’t usually drink milk until the afternoon when I’ll have a flat white. When I go out to a bar I’m always looking for a good Old Fashioned. I don’t know what it is, I just love them so much.

Nicky’s is located at 28 Challis St, Dickson. They are open from 7 am to 2 pm seven days a week. Follow Nicky’s on Instagram.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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