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  Da Rae Jung (spicy noodles and Korean soups)
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  • Da Rae Jung (spicy noodles and Korean soups)

    Post #1 - February 5th, 2013, 1:48 pm
    Post #1 - February 5th, 2013, 1:48 pm Post #1 - February 5th, 2013, 1:48 pm
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    Da Rae Jung typifies the hole in the wall restaurant that delivers consistently great food and impeccably warm service. They may not have their name written in western letters out front, but everything else about the place couldn't be more inviting. It's run by an elderly couple that are enthusiastic about sharing their meticulously prepared food. I usually consider restaurants first and foremost based on their food, but the warmth of the owners really does stand out.

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    It's easy to tell if you're in a quality Korean restaurant by the quality of the banchan. So many places serve canned or stale dishes, really starting the meal off on the wrong foot. Da Rae Jung only serves freshly made banchan, with a good amount of variety from visit to visit. My particular favorite is the fish cake that has a spongy, almost tempeh like texture, and some sweetness to counter the umami of the fish and the gochujang. Their approach truly shows how important the details can be, and how simply prepared food can really stand out when it's made with care.

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    Perhaps their most noteworthy offering is the naengmyun noodles that are served cold in a metal bowl. The noodles are always silky and soft. On my first visit, the owner was hesitant to serve me the naengmyun with the raw skate fish, but I convinced him and I'm glad I did. The slimy fish intermingled with the noodles to create a distinctive and delicious dish (watch out, there are bones).

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    They also offer a number of different hot pots that are meant for two, but could easily feed 4 (pictured is the tofu spicy soup, boodae chigae). My favorite to date was a special they offered that included freshly made dumplings and rice cakes in a neutral, chicken broth. The simplicity of the dish was really brought home by the owner's insistence on serving us the soup. So much so that I had to leave enough food on my plate when she came by to make sure I didn't get another helping. The simple soup, the fresh dumplings, the strategy required to keep from getting stuffed, it all added up to an experience most reminiscent of a visit to a relative's house.

    The main Da Rae Jung thread reveals a number of happy customers, though their prowess with naengmyun has been mentioned on the board for years.

    Zim:
    "I like Da Rae Jung on lincoln for naeng myon (i'm told they make it n. korean style, though I'm not an expert)"

    DY:
    "Da Rae Jung and Cho Sun Ok are probably the two best spots in the city for naeng myun"

    kimeetee:
    "My favorite place [for naengmyun] is run by an older Korean couple. I know that it's on Lincoln in a strip mall near a Chase Bank. But as I don't speak or read Korean, I can't even begin to tell you what it's called." (It's called Da Rae Jung, and it's fantastic!)

    laikom:
    "It's not a big place, and it's not flashy. It's run by an older, very cheerful Korean couple (I'm only assuming they're a husband and wife team) who are always there to make sure you're happy. It's really like eating at someone's grandparents house."

    GWiv:
    "Love the noodles, casual observation puts some variation of naneng myun on every table, and soup. Plentiful panchan and efficient friendly service, even given no common language."

    gasto gnome:
    "The star of the night for me was the goat soup. It was richly flavored with tender goat. As an entree with 8 accompanying panchan for $10, this is a great cold-weather option."

    boudrealicious:
    "Highlights were the goat soup (Asian Birria!), perfect mandoo (my pet peeve is that the skins are usually either too thick or too fragile--these were light but with good texture and the filling was very flavorful), a slightly sweet roast pork, a nice rendition of jap chae and the cold noodles with beef"

    Da Rae Jung
    5220 N Lincoln Ave
    Chicago, IL 60625
  • Post #2 - February 6th, 2013, 11:40 am
    Post #2 - February 6th, 2013, 11:40 am Post #2 - February 6th, 2013, 11:40 am
    A heartfelt "2nd" for this nomination!! Da Rae Jung is the real deal--tiny storefront in a strip mall, unique dishes that satisfy your soul served by a warm proprietor who is proud of his food. Da Rae Jung's bubbling cauldron of goat is craveworthy, as are the delicious dumplings. Everything I've eaten there was a winner and I can't wait to return. These are the places that make the GNR program so valuable.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 2:44 pm
    Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 2:44 pm Post #3 - February 7th, 2013, 2:44 pm
    turkob wrote:laikom:
    "It's not a big place, and it's not flashy. It's run by an older, very cheerful Korean couple (I'm only assuming they're a husband and wife team) who are always there to make sure you're happy. It's really like eating at someone's grandparents house."


    What he said ^

    This place typifies korean home cooking. This couple has probably been cooking food the same way for 60 or 70 years, and it shows. I support this nomination!
    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 #4 - February 16th, 2013, 5:00 pm
    Post #4 - February 16th, 2013, 5:00 pm Post #4 - February 16th, 2013, 5:00 pm
    I just got back from another great lunch at Da Rae Jung. I really love this place! Even though it's cold and wintery out there, If it wasn't clear by turkob's post, I really encourage anyone trying Da Rae Jung for the first time to get the Neng myun cold noodles, my favorite of the 3 available here is the beef soup version. It really blows every other version I have had out of the water. It is clearly the dish the owners of the restaurant are most proud of, considering the size of the pictures on the windows.
    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 #5 - February 16th, 2013, 6:21 pm
    Post #5 - February 16th, 2013, 6:21 pm Post #5 - February 16th, 2013, 6:21 pm
    What a terrific nomination!

    Though I have maybe 8-words in common with the owners I've always been made to feel welcome and at home. On the plate they shine, I swear a goat stew for two filled me and another big eater up for 24 hours. Cod fish soup, individual goat soup and naneng myun are terrific. Wall specials such as dumplings, fried or steamed, and pajeon shine as well.

    I learned about Da Rae Jung from a non LTH source by coincidence, hopefully when it becomes a GNR it will peek its head out into the world just a wee bit, though I don't ever see Da Rae Jung being popular with anyone but Koreans, LTHers and die-hard eaters in general. Set back from the street in a small strip mall, scant signage, no English spoken and unfamiliar foods (for many) is a tough barrier to break. Their loss.

    I just read the main thread, again, just realized I've posted only once, apologies. I've been a number of times since my first visit and had a terrific experience each and every time.

    Goat Stew with sesame leaf for Two

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

    Low & Slow
  • Post #6 - February 17th, 2013, 10:31 pm
    Post #6 - February 17th, 2013, 10:31 pm Post #6 - February 17th, 2013, 10:31 pm
    Yes.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #7 - February 25th, 2013, 10:20 am
    Post #7 - February 25th, 2013, 10:20 am Post #7 - February 25th, 2013, 10:20 am
    This is a great nomination that I strongly support. Thanks to turkob for introducing me to this neighborhood gem.
  • Post #8 - March 1st, 2013, 11:55 pm
    Post #8 - March 1st, 2013, 11:55 pm Post #8 - March 1st, 2013, 11:55 pm
    Thanks for this nomination. I love them too, and can attest to all the accolades mentioned above. Besides the panchan (which I would make an entire meal of, if I was allowed), I always feel completely welcomed and at home - the proprietor knows me by sight and remembers my preferences. I think that's extraordinary, from such a small and low-key restaurant. I wholeheartedly support Da Rae Jung for GNR.
    "To get long" meant to make do, to make well of whatever we had; it was about having a long view, which was endurance, and a long heart, which was hope.
    - Fae Myenne Ng, Bone
  • Post #9 - March 3rd, 2013, 10:08 am
    Post #9 - March 3rd, 2013, 10:08 am Post #9 - March 3rd, 2013, 10:08 am
    I reallly ike Da Rae Jung and feel especially happy that it's one of the few GNR nominees that is actually IN my neighborhood. It may not be my favorite Korean spot in town, but the hospitality can't be beat. Either can a nice bowl of goat stew on a cold day. I support Da Rae Jung as a GNR.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

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