Korean Kalbi w/ Real Coals
- Paul Tyksins
Any suggestions on stand-out Korean restaurants that bring real coals to the table for the traditional Korean bbq meat fest? I've been to a couple of restaurants here in Chicago but they've merely cooked the beef in the back (and overcooked it, I might add!). Other restaurants have electric grills--and the taste suffers.
Southeast corner of Western and Foster, just north of what looks like a diner turned bar/nightclub called "My Life", is this place with neon Korean characters in the windows and the glorious proclaimation that they are open 24 hours! Beware: it gets pretty packed at mealtimes. One truly enchanting evening consisted of taking a date there at 2 in the morning. We got our own little shingled privacy booth (they also have communal cooking tables where you can sit on cushions on the floor). We sat at a table that could seat up to six, exhaust hood overhead, foil lined circular cavity in the center of the table, and a call button on the wall (most handy when you've just drained your bottle of soju and need another pronto). Right after we ordered, the waitress zipped back with a pot of glowing, fragrant wood coals and 15 or so little bowls full of assorted condiments and salads. Mmmmmmmmmm good. I've been there several times and had the kalbi (very good), marinated baby octopi (good, but tricky to cook), marinated pork (ok- not as flavorful as the kalbi), and the seafood pancake appetizer (huge and TASTY).
Mark, Thanks for the lead! I just went to another that almost exactly fits your description--only this place is at 6240 N. California (North of Peterson)and called Hai Woon Dae. The kalbi was wonderful (and so was the chige stew served as an after-kalbi palate cleanser) but the ventilation left something to be desired. The air inside gets thick w/ bbq smoke--don't plan on impressing anybody later that evening! Try the cold buckwheat noodles.