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  • Dancen [Korean Bar Food]

    Post #1 - February 7th, 2013, 2:29 pm
    Post #1 - February 7th, 2013, 2:29 pm Post #1 - February 7th, 2013, 2:29 pm
    Image

    It was through LTH that I learned about a place called “24 hour korean” where I discovered a favorite dish of mine, but I didn’t know the dish’s name. For years after “24 hour korean” closed down, I was on the search for that dish. I even attempted, to no avail, to recreate it through recipes, soliciting the help of the forum. After years of searching I thought I may never locate that dish again. It turned out that I was looking in the wrong places, it isn’t served in Korean restaurants, but rather Korean bars! At the end of that 6 year long mission, I walked through a dark and uninviting door to discover the vibrant and warm bar, Dancen, and finally the elusive dish, Buldak.

    Buldak, or translated into English, “fire chicken,” is the dish that makes Dancen famous among the Korean community. Char grilled right in front of you by the bartender, the chunks of chicken are rich, savory, slightly sweet, and damn spicy, served with the equally charred bones on the side for you to gnaw on. Its rich spiciness is the perfect compliment to an ice cold pitcher of light Korean lager (or is it the other way around?) or a frosty yogurt soju.

    The thing is, as far as the food goes, the Buldak is just the tip of the iceberg. Korean bars serve up a number of unique dishes that you will never find in the typical Korean Restaurant. Dancen quickly proved the best among them all, serving up dish after dish, each outshining the last. More impressive than the fire chicken may be the modestly named “pork cartilage,” which is more like tender shaved pork with tiny bits of cartilage attached for a nice textural contrast. Spiced heavily with Korean perilla seeds and served with perilla leaves on the side for wrapping, is has a strong and very distinct flavor that you don’t find in many dishes. This is a dish which is a Korean bar staple, yet you'd be hard pressed to find at any other restaurant in Chicago. The “spicy cod roe soup” is another must-order item. Served in a spicy yet clean and bright tasting broth, the cod roe sacks are not like any other I’ve ever tasted. While others are sometimes fishy or have a grainy texture, I can only describe this one as light and buttery, with a silken tofu like texture. It is a truly remarkable soup, currently fitting in among my favorites in the city.

    As for atmosphere, I’ll keep it short. With the K-pop music playing at all hours, magic marker drawings of cartoon pigs on the wall, and the tinted windows, once you step inside you are all but teleported directly to a dive bar in Korea. It is a great place to go get lost in the night and forget you live in Chicago.

    I recognize that Dancen hasn’t had much talk on LTH yet - hell it doesn’t even have a dedicated thread (I’ll have to start one, I suppose) - but this is a place that I’m very passionate about, and I believe if more people speak up or go out and try it, it’ll easily hold its own against this tough crowd. Dancen is an exciting and very unique place, but most importantly the food is astonishingly great.

    Main Threads:
    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=36838
    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=34812

    Listed on ronnie_suburban’s stand-outs of 2012 “Dancen - Ribs, Skin, Gizzards”

    “service seemed naturally, calmly good all yesterday night, and the crowd throughout the place was obviously having a great time. I will not hesitate to return to Dancen or to recommend it to the uninitiated... they brought out some lavishly spiced and perfectly fried chicken with dredging salt, quite impressive.” - Santander

    “great find in Dancen. I've heard others rave about their fire chicken.” - Lemoneater

    Timeout Chicago - listed in the “100 best things we ate”

    Rated in the “top 10 bars for grub” by Chicago Mag - “This Korean dive looks pretty bleak, but at 1 a.m., with fried pork skins and bek se ju rice wine warming your insides, it’s downright heroic. If you order the fire chicken, you may need one of the $14 beer pitchers just for yourself.”

    The LTH thread may have sparked some external talk as well, most notably:
    http://chicago.grubstreet.com/2012/05/k ... tkoff.html

    Cod Roe soup
    Image

    Fire Chicken
    Image[/quote]

    Dancen
    5114 N Lincoln Ave
    Chicago, IL 60686
    (773) 878-2400
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #2 - February 7th, 2013, 5:46 pm
    Post #2 - February 7th, 2013, 5:46 pm Post #2 - February 7th, 2013, 5:46 pm
    Please plan another outing for this place during the nom period--I'd really like to try it but would prefer to go with a "regular" for my first time :)
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 5:48 pm
    Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 5:48 pm Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 5:48 pm
    Love this place. It's dark, unpretentious, and the food is great. Very much support this GNR and will be on the look out for a potential outing.
  • Post #4 - February 7th, 2013, 6:28 pm
    Post #4 - February 7th, 2013, 6:28 pm Post #4 - February 7th, 2013, 6:28 pm
    AlekH wrote:Love this place. It's dark, unpretentious, and the food is great. Very much support this GNR...
    Agreed. Completely.

    While I can't condone (or even comprehend) the gratis american cheese omelette, everything else about this place is fantastic. Really a gem, and a place I find myself missing from 800 miles away in Virginia.

    -Dan
  • Post #5 - February 8th, 2013, 12:57 am
    Post #5 - February 8th, 2013, 12:57 am Post #5 - February 8th, 2013, 12:57 am
    boudreaulicious wrote:Please plan another outing for this place during the nom period--I'd really like to try it but would prefer to go with a "regular" for my first time :)


    I'm all in favor of setting up an event, but would like to keep the head count lower this time. Last time it was about 10 people and we were taking up 1/2 the place. I'm thinking of splitting it into 2 events with between 5-7 people instead of one big one. I'll post back here when i setup the events so that anyone who subscribes can get a notification. The upcoming evenings of tuesday through saturday look pretty open to me, so if anyone is interested go ahead and PM me with which day/s would work best for you.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #6 - February 8th, 2013, 11:39 am
    Post #6 - February 8th, 2013, 11:39 am Post #6 - February 8th, 2013, 11:39 am
    I setup 2 events. Tonight, and Wednesday. Both at 8pm.

    viewtopic.php?f=19&t=36846
    Last edited by laikom on February 8th, 2013, 3:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain
  • Post #7 - February 14th, 2013, 9:39 am
    Post #7 - February 14th, 2013, 9:39 am Post #7 - February 14th, 2013, 9:39 am
    Truly a fantastic meal here last night. I'll comment more on it later in the Eating Out thread but I strongly support this nomination. Really a great gem. I look forward to a lot more outings here.
  • Post #8 - February 14th, 2013, 11:52 am
    Post #8 - February 14th, 2013, 11:52 am Post #8 - February 14th, 2013, 11:52 am
    Thirded!
  • Post #9 - February 16th, 2013, 8:35 pm
    Post #9 - February 16th, 2013, 8:35 pm Post #9 - February 16th, 2013, 8:35 pm
    Thanks to Laikon setting up a LTH get together at Dancen I got a peek into a narrow window of Korean food I was totally unfamilar with, drinking food. Hard not to enjoy crispy pork skin, pork cartilage with sesame leaf and slivered jalapeno right up my culinary alley, all set to K-Pop, dark lighting and late hours.

    Was fun, unusual, delicious and I support Dancen as a GNR.

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

    Low & Slow
  • Post #10 - March 3rd, 2013, 10:40 pm
    Post #10 - March 3rd, 2013, 10:40 pm Post #10 - March 3rd, 2013, 10:40 pm
    My sole visit here was one stop of many during a bachelor party in mid-2012, so even though I don't remember a ton of details about the individual dishes we ate, I do remember enjoying the food a lot and having a great time (and isn't that exactly the point with this place? 8)). There were lots of chewy, funky, boldly-flavored and well-charred little bits that made for perfect drinking fare. I love the idea of Dancen being on the GNR list and support the nomination.

    =R=
    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

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