Chicago Kalbi | Albany Park | Asian, Korean, Japanese | Restaurant
Japanese-Korean-run barbecue where the panchan are little milder, the beef is a little leaner, and the whole experience is a little more refined than at your typical kalbi place.

Our Review

Considering the great number of Koreans that run sushi bars around town, is it really so strange that a kalbi place would be run by a Japanese-Korean couple? Here there are terrific appetizers of oyster pajun—-bivalves individually cooked in eggy batter—and a lightly fried, almost tempura-style chicken. But the varieties of panchan are milder and scarcer than those in a typical Korean restaurant, and the barbecue meats are leaner, shaved from higher-quality cuts—-the menu even advertises Kobe beef, though whenever you see that you should wonder if it’s actually domestic Wagyu. Of course, the cooking is done over real wood charcoal, but because the delicate cuts have a harder time standing up to the intense heat, you really have to pay attention to what you’re doing. The whole experience is a little more refined and less orgiastic than at most Korean places—it leaves you feeling as if you’ve eaten more like Sailor Moon than Conan the Barbarian. On the other hand it attracts a great number of local and traveling Japanese pro ballplayers, whose posters cover the wall, and a collection of balls autographed by the likes of Hideki Matsui, Tadahito Iguchi, and Ichiro Suzuki are enshrined under the register. Though the place is extremely hospitable, outrageously, there’s a $2 surcharge for extra lettuce and bean paste. Overall it’s less forbidding than a typical kalbi restaurant—-our waitress offered to show us the ropes in a flat midwestern accent and the busboy was eastern European. Perhaps as a result there are always lots of white people at the tables. "That’s because it’s not real Korean," a skeptical Korean told me.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$
Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, Discover


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