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Best Korean BBQ
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  • Best Korean BBQ

    Post #1 - March 25th, 2005, 3:33 pm
    Post #1 - March 25th, 2005, 3:33 pm Post #1 - March 25th, 2005, 3:33 pm
    Hello Friends,

    I'm introducing some Colombian friends to Korean BBQ, but as a newcomer to the midwest, don't know where the best place is to take them in Chicago. Can you recommend the smokiest, loudest, soju-laden place that is within a reasonable driving distance from downtown? A place with charcoal (not gas) grills and women who will grab the tongs out of my hands with a scolding look to manhandle my kalbi? This will be a real treat for my meat loving Colombian pals.

    Do you have thoughts about these spots? Which would you recommend as the top two for smokey, loud, panchan-laden BBQ?

    :shock:
    San Soo Gab San
    Cho Sun Ok Restaurant
    Solga Charcoal Grill and Noodle
    Kang Nam Galbi
    Woo Chon
    Jang Mo Nim
    Jang Choong Dong

    Thanks much for your guidance. I'll be sure to report back.
    -Hafney
  • Post #2 - March 25th, 2005, 3:45 pm
    Post #2 - March 25th, 2005, 3:45 pm Post #2 - March 25th, 2005, 3:45 pm
    I can't answer this question definitively, although I've been to several of these places and they've all seemed to fit your bill fairly well (though most are about 5-7 miles NW of downtown. fyi). Here are a couple of reports on places that should help for starters.

    Solga
    Hae Woon Dae
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  • Post #3 - March 25th, 2005, 3:52 pm
    Post #3 - March 25th, 2005, 3:52 pm Post #3 - March 25th, 2005, 3:52 pm
    I saw your post on CH. You got some good info there, though I must say that I have had only very good experiences at Kang Nam, no wood or glass in anything. Also, I always get dol sot bibimbop, and I think Kang Nam's is best. Kang Nam has the added benefit of being in one of America's most interesting culinary strip malls in the middle of one of its most interesting streets. The mall, just north on Kedzie from Lawrence is shared with one of our best Korean grocers, Clark Market -- great panchan to go, Korean liquor, seafood (live geoducks, eg), a good Arab meat market, one of the best Palestinian sweets shops, an Albanian byrek/pizza parlor, and a bank with a cash machine. And a parking lot.

    But for novices looking for a good time, I might suggest Garden Buffet -- pick what you like, and eat as much as you want for one relatively low price. Pretty darn good and varied selection of meats, including pork, tripe, and mackerel in addition to your beef, nice stews, and the odd Chinese-Korean dish here and there. Panchan selection is not as high quality or as varied as some of the more traditional places, but you're going for the meat fest, right? Charcoal on the tables. Also, kitschy but somewhat interesting touches such as the pond/stream with lots of turtles and koi.

    Not a BBQ place, but one of my favorites is the soju-drenched bizzarely decorated, dark and cozy Korean bar, Hourglass. Very good Korean fried chicken, all you really need to know about the limited menu.

    PS, this is a City of Neighborhoods. No good Korean really near the Loop because (unlike LA, eg) luck would have it that the Korean neighborhood isn't near downtown.
  • Post #4 - March 25th, 2005, 6:24 pm
    Post #4 - March 25th, 2005, 6:24 pm Post #4 - March 25th, 2005, 6:24 pm
    just to obfuscate some more, add 'hae woon dae' to that mix. solga is still relatively new. (since summer of last year?). i enjoy jang mo nim for things other than bbq. hae woon dae has a few small tatami rooms that are perfect for small gatherings.

    san soo gab san is an old korean standby. it's open 24 hrs, it's smoky as HECK. the waitresses are rude and don't come until you yell "a jima!!!". the panchan is plentiful and all pretty decent. slight hiccup last week: for a party of 8, they only brought out one live charcoal burner which kinda pooped on my cooking fun.
  • Post #5 - March 25th, 2005, 8:14 pm
    Post #5 - March 25th, 2005, 8:14 pm Post #5 - March 25th, 2005, 8:14 pm
    Don't forget:

    Hai Woon Dae
    6240 N California
    Chicago, IL 60659
    Tel: (773) 764-8018

    Charcoal, countless/delicious panchan and great food. Although, in my experience, the service is fairly friendly. :wink:

    =R=

    edit: typo'd name of restaurant -- DOH!
    Last edited by ronnie_suburban on March 25th, 2005, 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #6 - March 25th, 2005, 8:25 pm
    Post #6 - March 25th, 2005, 8:25 pm Post #6 - March 25th, 2005, 8:25 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Dae Woon Hai
    6240 N California
    Chicago, IL 60659
    Tel: (773) 764-8018

    Charcoal, countless/delicious panchan and great food. Although, in my experience, the service is fairly friendly. :wink:
    that is one I would recommend, funny, I get so much better service when my Korean bud who speaks the lanquage is with me :)
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #7 - March 28th, 2005, 12:35 pm
    Post #7 - March 28th, 2005, 12:35 pm Post #7 - March 28th, 2005, 12:35 pm
    San Soo Gab San is always a good place for larger parties, as is Garden Buffet (if you truly feel like being totally ignored by waitstaff! :lol: ).

    Cho Sun Ok, while good, does not have to tabletop grills but woks, which kind of takes the fun out of the "bbq" part of Korean BBQ.

    And as usual, I pour a little of my 40 oz. out for my old, closed homie, SamMee which used to live on Clark St., south of Addison.
  • Post #8 - March 28th, 2005, 2:44 pm
    Post #8 - March 28th, 2005, 2:44 pm Post #8 - March 28th, 2005, 2:44 pm
    San soo gap san is great, smoky, open until 6am and the soju flows.

    Kang Nam is excellent as well complete with Korean soaps playing on the wall-mounting TV's and those little vitamin drinks as complimentary apertifs when in stock.

    Cho Sin Ok is ok, closer to the city but it sounds like you are looking for more of the San Soo Gap San environment. The other problem with Cho Sun Ok is that unless you have a Korean in your group, you may not get all the pan chan and other food selections that they give their Korean customers. I wouldn't go there sans-Korean if I were you, but others may have had different experiences.

    While I have never been there I heard that Hai Woon Dae on California has really good food, comparable to the Hai Woon Dae in Korea.
  • Post #9 - March 28th, 2005, 3:02 pm
    Post #9 - March 28th, 2005, 3:02 pm Post #9 - March 28th, 2005, 3:02 pm
    San soo gap san is great, smoky, open until 6am


    In practice, they really close around 5 AM and reopen at 10 AM, though the sign says 24 hours per day. I was once there at 5:15 AM and refused service.

    Cho Sun Ok - I coax the panchan out of them. When I used to go there more regularly, I had no problems getting the "Little dead fish."

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #10 - March 28th, 2005, 6:35 pm
    Post #10 - March 28th, 2005, 6:35 pm Post #10 - March 28th, 2005, 6:35 pm
    We prefer Hai Woon Dae, (agreed, if you have a korean speaker, Cho Sun Ok is also good). San Soo Gab San has maybe more and better panchan, but Hai Woon Dae is close and they are friendlier and you get free vegetarian bin dae duk with the meal.
  • Post #11 - March 28th, 2005, 10:08 pm
    Post #11 - March 28th, 2005, 10:08 pm Post #11 - March 28th, 2005, 10:08 pm
    hikawatressler wrote:We prefer Hai Woon Dae,

    I prefer Hae Woon Dae as well. Live charcoal, quality meat, good selection of panchan and friendly, though non bilingual, service.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Hae Woon Dae
    6240 N. California
    Chicago, IL. 60659
    773-764-8018
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #12 - March 29th, 2005, 10:34 am
    Post #12 - March 29th, 2005, 10:34 am Post #12 - March 29th, 2005, 10:34 am
    gary,

    does hae woon dae serve otato?
  • Post #13 - March 29th, 2005, 12:37 pm
    Post #13 - March 29th, 2005, 12:37 pm Post #13 - March 29th, 2005, 12:37 pm
    zim wrote:gary,

    does hae woon dae serve otato?

    Zim,

    Not that I recall, no Kam Ja either. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #14 - March 29th, 2005, 1:24 pm
    Post #14 - March 29th, 2005, 1:24 pm Post #14 - March 29th, 2005, 1:24 pm
    Hi. I remember your posts from about a year ago on CH and later here on LTH, where you lamented Chicago's Korean scene. Perhaps, "lament" is too strong, but I think the upshot of your postings was that Chi-town lagged L.A. in this genre. I would be interested in knowing if you have revised your opinion since then, for the better or the worse, now that you've had more time to acquaint yourself with local establishments. I for one, agree with your assessment of LNH -- solid fare and cheap, but nothing really bowled me over. titus
  • Post #15 - March 29th, 2005, 1:51 pm
    Post #15 - March 29th, 2005, 1:51 pm Post #15 - March 29th, 2005, 1:51 pm
    titus wong wrote:Hi. I remember your posts from about a year ago on CH and later here on LTH, where you lamented Chicago's Korean scene. Perhaps, "lament" is too strong, but I think the upshot of your postings was that Chi-town lagged L.A. in this genre. I would be interested in knowing if you have revised your opinion since then, for the better or the worse, now that you've had more time to acquaint yourself with local establishments. I for one, agree with your assessment of LNH -- solid fare and cheap, but nothing really bowled me over. titus


    What's LNH :?:
  • Post #16 - March 29th, 2005, 2:07 pm
    Post #16 - March 29th, 2005, 2:07 pm Post #16 - March 29th, 2005, 2:07 pm
    Vital Information wrote:What's LNH :?:


    Lincoln Noodle House
  • Post #17 - March 30th, 2005, 2:49 pm
    Post #17 - March 30th, 2005, 2:49 pm Post #17 - March 30th, 2005, 2:49 pm
    sadly, i've only visited a few new-to-me Korean restaurants since that thread. for awhile the now-demolished F.D.L.T. was our fave Korean joint. San soo gab san pleasantly surprised me w/ a great combination of panchan plethora/ charcoal fire/ unattentive waitresses/ completely Asian clientele. and we've also found my beloved yogurt soju ($25 per carafe. EEEEK!!!) @ Orange. even ventured to try the infamous gan pon chicken wings + cha jiang mien combo @ Great Sea...

    as a whole, i'd now say the choices suffice most Korean enthusiasts. tho last week i went to California Food Corp... got a poorly filled/overpriced kim bap roll and that still kinda pissed me off ;)
  • Post #18 - March 30th, 2005, 3:09 pm
    Post #18 - March 30th, 2005, 3:09 pm Post #18 - March 30th, 2005, 3:09 pm
    TonyC wrote:... tho last week i went to California Food Corp... got a poorly filled/overpriced kim bap roll and that still kinda pissed me off ;)


    I agree... I also had the kim bap last weekend and was disappointed. I am not sure whether it was the same one, but they have taken to using this cheap krab stuff now. Before, IIRC it varied from sausage to a better tasting krab...
  • Post #19 - March 30th, 2005, 3:14 pm
    Post #19 - March 30th, 2005, 3:14 pm Post #19 - March 30th, 2005, 3:14 pm
    Hi,

    Are you really referring to Chicago Food Corp? Is the dish you reference served in their little cafe? What is your general experience with this cafe?
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #20 - March 30th, 2005, 3:29 pm
    Post #20 - March 30th, 2005, 3:29 pm Post #20 - March 30th, 2005, 3:29 pm
    The other night I went to Kang Nam based on this sites recommendation. I really enjoyed the fact that hot coals are brought to the table! The kalbi was outstanding, but I think I enjoyed the bbq pork more.

    I counted almost 25 small salads at the table at once.

    after dinner, I went to the korean store next door and was happy to see that you can buy the marinated Kalbi for very inexpensive.

    It could be more elegant in decoration, but it was ok.
  • Post #21 - March 30th, 2005, 3:36 pm
    Post #21 - March 30th, 2005, 3:36 pm Post #21 - March 30th, 2005, 3:36 pm
    That grocery store next to Kang Nam is a lifesaver. Everytime I need to impress someone with my culinary skills in Asian cooking (non existent), I head on over there and pick up the marinated meat (usually kalbi or bulgogi). Bring it home, dump it in a ziploc bag, dispose of the evidence, and voila! I "made" korean bbq... ;)
  • Post #22 - May 15th, 2005, 4:51 pm
    Post #22 - May 15th, 2005, 4:51 pm Post #22 - May 15th, 2005, 4:51 pm
    I am organizing a large group (10-18 people) to go for Korean BBQ as well as other Korean dishes. Which one do you think could better accomodate such a group? Tastiness is still the biggest factor, but we'd like to sit together or somewhat near each other if possible. I'm thinking Kang Nam or Hae Woon Dae. Any thoughts?
    there's food, and then there's food
  • Post #23 - May 15th, 2005, 7:51 pm
    Post #23 - May 15th, 2005, 7:51 pm Post #23 - May 15th, 2005, 7:51 pm
    Rich4 wrote: I'm thinking Kang Nam or Hae Woon Dae. Any thoughts?

    Rich,

    Either could accommodate you nicely. Hae Woon Dae has a largish area that can be closed off with sliding screens, as well as smaller Tatami rooms. Kang Nam has a largish area that is slightly raised from the main restaurant that would work well, though there are no screens to close off the room.

    Both places use live coals, nice selection of items for BBQ, including very good kalbi/bulgogi, and have a nice selection of panchan, good selection of non-BBQ dishes and efficient, though non-bilingual, service.

    My slight preference is for Hae Woon though Kang Nam does one of the best, if not the best, Dolsot BiBim Bop with incredibly crisp rice on the bottom. Kang Nam only has the one type of dolsot, so if it was dolsot you were were after I'd recommend San Chae Dolsot.

    Enjoy,
    Gary


    Hae Woon Dae
    6240 N. California
    Chicago, IL. 60659
    773-764-8018

    Kang Nam Galbi
    4849 N. Kedzie
    Chicago, IL
    773-539-2524

    San Chae Dolsot
    3737 W Lawrence Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60625
    773-588-5223
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #24 - May 15th, 2005, 9:20 pm
    Post #24 - May 15th, 2005, 9:20 pm Post #24 - May 15th, 2005, 9:20 pm
    G Wiv wrote:My slight preference is for Hae Woon though Kang Nam does one of the best, if not the best, Dolsot BiBim Bop with incredibly crisp rice on the bottom. Kang Nam only has the one type of dolsot, so if it was dolsot you were were after I'd recommend San Chae Dolsot.

    Thanks Gary,
    This will actually be part III of our tour of raw meat dishes. There's a raw beef, egg & spices Korean dish that we're going to try, in addition to the BBQ and flotilla of small dishes. Luckily a few in our group speak Korean, and were able to call ahead to find out that both Kang Nam and Hae Woon Dae serve it. I'll post the raw meat pics and report how it goes later. Regards,
    Rich
    there's food, and then there's food
  • Post #25 - May 15th, 2005, 9:36 pm
    Post #25 - May 15th, 2005, 9:36 pm Post #25 - May 15th, 2005, 9:36 pm
    Rich,

    You're talking about Yook Hwe, right? Raw beef marinated with toasted sesame oil, julienned Asian pear, scallions, pine nuts and topped with a raw egg, a Korean version of steak tartare. One of my favorite dishes.

    Be sure to inquire if they have raw crab panchan that day. Hae Woon Dae usually has it, Kang Nam once in a while.

    Part III of your raw meat tour, care to fill us in on parts I and II?

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #26 - May 15th, 2005, 10:15 pm
    Post #26 - May 15th, 2005, 10:15 pm Post #26 - May 15th, 2005, 10:15 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Part III of your raw meat tour, care to fill us in on parts I and II?

    That would be Kitfo at Ras Dashen, and Kibbe Nayeh at Semiramis. Pics and write-up to follow.
    there's food, and then there's food
  • Post #27 - May 16th, 2005, 11:33 am
    Post #27 - May 16th, 2005, 11:33 am Post #27 - May 16th, 2005, 11:33 am
    Rich,

    if you and your friends are up for Raw Beef IV, I'd recommend the hackepeter appetizer at Laschet's: small slices of rye bread covered with a thick layer of raw ground beef, with small containers of chopped raw onion and capers to add to your taste. I have to restrain myself from eating more than my share there. :roll:

    Laschet's Inn
    2119 W. Irving Park Rd.
    773-478-7915
  • Post #28 - August 26th, 2005, 8:37 am
    Post #28 - August 26th, 2005, 8:37 am Post #28 - August 26th, 2005, 8:37 am
    G Wiv wrote:Yook Hwe, Be sure to inquire if they have raw crab panchan that day. Hae Woon Dae usually has it, Kang Nam once in a while.

    LTH,

    Was at Hae Woon Dae last evening, no crab panchan on hand, nor the little anchovies for that matter, but we did have Hae Woon Dae's very good version of Yook Hwe.

    Yook Hwe at Hae Woon Dae
    Image

    The meal in general was quite good, as always, though one item that may not stand out on the menu is simply called Steamed Eggs. Light, flavorful egg custard, perfect as a starter.

    Steamed Eggs at Hae Woon Dae
    Image

    Hae Woon Dae is one of my favorite Korean BBQ spots, good quality meat and live charcoal.

    Hae Woon Dae
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Hae Woon Dae
    6240 N. California
    Chicago, IL. 60659
    773-764-8018
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #29 - August 26th, 2005, 5:29 pm
    Post #29 - August 26th, 2005, 5:29 pm Post #29 - August 26th, 2005, 5:29 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Yook Hwe at Hae Woon Dae
    Image


    This is a bit OT, but how does yook hwe compare to, say, kitfo? Is it spicy? Mmmm... raw beef.

    Kristen
  • Post #30 - August 27th, 2005, 8:40 am
    Post #30 - August 27th, 2005, 8:40 am Post #30 - August 27th, 2005, 8:40 am
    kl5 wrote:This is a bit OT, but how does yook hwe compare to, say, kitfo? Is it spicy? Mmmm... raw beef.

    Kristen,

    There is, in my experience, no hot/spicy component in Korean Yook Hwe though in poking around the internet I see a few recipes with a red pepper component.

    Sesame oil, Asian toasted variety, is a constant as seems to be pine nuts and Asian pear, though Hae Woon Dae used 'regular' pear that evening. No pine nuts in Hae Woon Dae's Yook Hwe that evening either, which I missed as I like the texture/taste counterpoint to the raw beef.

    Best Yook Hwe I've had was at Woo Chon, Asian pear, pine nuts, sesame oil, raw egg, very flavorful. Unfortunately, Woo Chon changed owners about 8-9 months ago and no longer has Yook Hwe on the menu. Actually, it's not all that unfortunate Woo Chon changed owners, as it's a really good place for Korean BBQ, with an array and diversity of panchan that even TonyC would approve. (Yes they include raw crab panchan)

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Woo Chon Restaurant
    5744 N California Ave
    Chicago, IL 60659
    773-728-8001

    Hae Woon Dae
    6240 N. California
    Chicago, IL. 60659
    773-764-8018
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow

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