For Koreans cha chia mian--wheat noodles in thick, inky black bean sauce with chopped vegetables and meat-- represent the very definition of familiarity and comfort. Theyre the Asian analog of chicken noodle soup or meat loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. One of my favorite places for the dish is Albany Park's VIP Restaurant. Haiben Chin, who manages the restaurant for her mom and dad, says the family, which once operated a place in Seoul, opened V.I.P. in the mid-80s when the neighborhood was primarily Korean. Up until about ten years ago her dad, Sgu Yung Chin, used to hand-pull noodles. "He says he's too old," she laughed. "His elbows hurt too much to do it." Still, he makes some mean noodles. Try the gan cha chiang mian in a double-sided bowl with spicy champong, a spicy seafood noodle dish.
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