Korean and American Cuisine

609 Snidow Street Pembroke, VA 24136
(540) 626-6011


Chefs share many common traits. One of their similarities is often who they learned their love of cooking from. In many cases, it's their mothers or grandmothers. Connie Kim, owner and chef at Kalbee Restaurant in Pembroke, VA is no exception.

However, there was a slightly different twist in her education. Kim is Korean and when she reached the age when a female child would have traditionally been taught the art of cooking, her country was beginning to see a shift in cultural norms.

Previously, only male children received a higher education and the female children were taught the domestic arts, "to take care of the men," according to Kim.  Kim's family, however, could afford to keep her in school.  She achieved an education in drama.

Kim was never physically shown how to cook 
by her mother or grandmother. What she took from them was an extensive memory of tastes. Through eating their dishes, she learned in timately how the taste of fresh, high quality ingredients, combined with the complimentary herbs and spices brought happiness and health to those who dined. It was through this extensive taste repertoire that Kim began to develop her extensive and highly impressive catalog of tradi tional Korean dishes.

Kim explained how many of herbs used in other cultures foods are used for medicinal purposes in Korea and not as food items. Korean cuisine makes extensive use of garlic, ginger, sesame, onions and many types of peppers. Enhancing and adapting, Kim, conversely, does use many herbs such as mint, chives, cilantro and parsley. Many of these she grows herself in her gardens.

Kim makes her own soy sauce, with no preservatives added such as in the commercial types. "It takes a minimum of one year to make soy sauce and longer is even better," emphasized Kim. Bean paste is produced as a result of the soy making process. Nothing is wasted. She also makes her own vinegars with the emphasis again on letting time enhance quality. "Young vinegar is lighter and the older is darker and more flavorful," according to Kim.

It was explained how in Korea, there are not salt or pepper shakers on the table as when the food leaves the kitchen, it is fully seasoned. Additionally, chopsticks are used because every thing that may need to be cut leaves the kitchen already cut into eating sizes.

Kim stressed that she could buy less expensive ingredients to make a greater profit but that she would know the difference this would make and she would be unhappy with the result. "I won't drop my standards," stressed Kim. She also stressed how her customers would be unhappy. Kim stated, "Good food will make a laughing heart." It is quite clear that Kim wants her guests at Kalbee to be happy.

Editor's Note:   
Kalbee Restaurant is a small, family owned local establishment.   It is recommended that you call ahead (540-626-6011) to confirm that the diningroom is open before you arrive for dinner or lunch due to catering and other demands. A small American menu is available.)

Flavours Magazine, Winter 2010, Page 10.


The Kal-Bee: Pembroke's Korean-American restaurant is simply wonderful. Whether you order a Korean dish or the meatloaf, make sure you start with a platter of kim chee.

Tom Angleberger
The New River Forum
The Roanoke Times, Sunday March 29, 2009


They always come back. New Pembroke eatery is making Giles County a destination for traditional Korean food.

More people are making Pembroke a destination, even driving from as far as Roanoke and Floyd, to try traditional Korean dishes at Kal-bee. It seems the food is creating a buzz, attracting people looking for something a little different when they dine out.

Stephen Grieco
The Roanoke Times, Sunday, March 7, 2004


A slice of Korean heaven in downtown Pembroke. The Kal-bee would be great even if it was only a very, very nice downhome restaurant serving fried chicken, country-fried steak, meatloaf sandwiches and the like in a friendly way.

Yep, they've got your country-style favorites -- green beans, mashed potatoes, corn bread. And if that's all you want, believe me, you can have a fine meal.

But the Kal-Bee is so much more because it's run by a Korean family who will set you up with fantastic American food.
. . . .
Now I don't want to pretend to be a 
restaurant reviewer, but let me just say that the yuki (fried dumplings) are fantastic. Even if you don't want to try a Korean entree, you owe it to yourself to order up a batch of yuki as an appetizer.
. . . .
Bottom line: Of all the New River Valley's unexpected treasurers, the Kal-Bee is one of the most unexpected. Now that I know it's there, I can't wait to go back.

Tom Angelberger
The Roanoke Times,  Saturday, April 9, 2005