This past week I had a chance to try Gimeal Cafe, a new Taiwanese-American fusion shop newly opened in Old Town Goleta. I was excited to try it and looked forward to seeing how pleasant (or unpleasant) the food was.
At Gimeal Cafe, bento boxes are the name of the game. A bento box has a few compartments, each one containing a different food item. I was more than excited to see my order of onion chicken, which was recommended to me by the staff, come with corn, salad, sausage, and a hardboiled egg. There are a few options for ordering, but luckily, most were kept below the infamous $10 line.
I enjoyed the overall layout of the restaurant. It is much larger than how it appears from the outside thanks to the open floor plan. Once inside, you will find booths to the left and tables to the right.
What surprised me and will surprise most is the large television hanging on the wall to the right. After walking inside I was greeted by Baymax from Disney’s “Big Hero 6” flying past a city’s skyline. Although the volume is muted, the subtitles allowed for the movie to become a nice break during the meal. I would almost have to glance up every now and then to see where the plot was. I can easily see how this would make it easier for families to check out Gimeal Cafe.
The chicken itself is what you would expect—not the worst, but certainly not the best. Some may find it to be a bit too bland, but I thought that the blandness highlighted the absolutely amazing sauce. What was even better was the way the sauce would drip into the rice below, creating heavenly goodness underneath the chicken. With each strip already cut appropriately for each bite, I found the onion chicken to easily be one of the better purchases I have made lately.
The sides were a different story however. I found the sausage to be great, enough for two bites of contrasting flavors. The corn and the hardboiled egg were a bit salty. In no way were they excessively salty; I would just prefer a bit less personally. The salad is an acquired taste. I was not used to the flavor, but by the end I was enjoying myself.
Unfortunately, the meal itself isn’t about the sides. The sides are there to complement the meal—to better the main dish. And they did exactly that. Small enough as to not distract you, but distinct enough to create some variation. They made each venture back to the onion chicken a great one.
I also drank a passion fruit tea, which I would highly recommend. They serve your standard teas, mango being the fan favorite, according to the staff. Altogether, my meal came in around $12.
By the end of my visit, I was more than satisfied. Gimeal Cafe offered great food and a wonderful environment. After considering the wifi, I would go so far as to say it would be a great place to set up for doing work, especially if you are just going to be there for an hour. If you do not want to spend the time sitting down, the bento boxes come in handy. Bento boxes themselves are designed to be taken on the go.
Overall, Gimeal Cafe surprised me. Quite frankly, I was not expecting to enjoy the onion chicken as much as I did. Before eating there I had wondered whether Gimeal Cafe would be worth the trip. The environment and the food convinced me. I certainly enjoyed my experience there and know I will be returning.