Video: commitment to craft in Korean restaurants | Bleader

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Video: commitment to craft in Korean restaurants

Posted By on 02.14.08 at 01:20 PM

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This week in Omnivorous I wrote about Mount Prospect's Chodang Tofu Village, where they make one thing really well: hot, spicy tofu stew, or soon dubu chigae.

Of all the unique ethnic groups around town, Koreans support a good number of highly specialized restaurants. Editor Kate Schmidt curated a nice selection of them in the listings this week, many dedicated to a particular dish or category of dishes.

We left out the new wave of slick fusion sojutini places seeking to introduce non-Koreans to a timid version of the cuisine, and we did include many of the familiar barbecue houses with wide-ranging menus. But you can also read about the Hourglass, the Albany Park bar that was frying tong dak, or whole hacked fried chicken long before the first Korean chains figured out they could make a go of it here in the states. And you can compare it to the first of those chains to arrive, Cheogajip in Niles. Chun Ju in Morton Grove attracts a number of older gents for jeuk suk yum so bok um, a vigorous goat stew with sesame leaves, said to be good for a man's, er, staying power (conveniently, it's located next door to a dark bar that always seems to be inhabited by a number of young women lounging around in lingerie). The sam gae tang specialists at Ssyal Ginseng House make a steaming chicken ginseng soup meant to consumed in hot weather, but it's just as great in the cold. At Kim's Korean Restaurant (Chodang's neighbor), you can grill bacon marinated in one of five flavors, and the unassuming Han Bat pulls in Korean celebs by serving nothing but slow simmered ox bone soup--great for hangovers.

There's more, but just to give you a idea of the commitment I'm talking about, here's a very abbreviated video of Jin Sook Hwang in Chodang's kitchen. Her range is rigged to make just two things--stew on one side, rice on the other.

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