LTH Home

  San Soo Gap San [Korean]

  San Soo Gap San [Korean]
  • Forum HomeLocked Topic BackTop
  • San Soo Gap San [Korean]

    Post #1 - June 11th, 2006, 3:56 pm
    Post #1 - June 11th, 2006, 3:56 pm Post #1 - June 11th, 2006, 3:56 pm
    Image

    I really love San Soo Gap San. The room is dark and smoky. The service is harried and stern but at the same time endearing in a bdsm sort of way. I’m not sure I’ve seen a better and more varied panchan selection in the city—perhaps weak on the pickled seafood, but I’ve enjoyed items like mumallaengi (sun-dried radish kimchi) which I have never seen anywhere else in Chicago, but Chicago Food Corp.
    Image

    I’m generally not a fan of Korean BBQ, if only because I’m not into cooking my own food in a restaurant. But, if you are into it, San Soo Gab San offers live charcoal for you to grill your bulgogi over.

    Big tables of loud-mouthed patrons slurping Obi beer and soju make most evenings (especially weekends) at SSGS a party. What to eat with your soju?

    A giant plate of Yook Hwe (seasoned raw beef with shards of asian pear topped with an egg yolk), of course:
    Image

    Another reason to love SSGS is that you can ask them to customize your order, and unlike other Korean restaurants, they might actually oblige. I said might. On one occasion, I asked them to make an extra spicy version of chap chae, and after they said no—this is what came out of the kitchen:
    Image
    Success!

    But what I really come for is soup—either kalbi tang (beef short rib soup), yuk gae jang (spicy shredded beef soup), or heuk yumso tang (goat soup/stew). All offer something a little different, but when I think about the meal (short ribs, noodle soup, rice, panchan, buckwheat tea) I can have for $7 or $8 bucks here it makes me very happy. I have dined at SSGS often with other LTH’ers, though the amount of discussion generated on LTH doesn’t really reflect that. Still, there has been a fair amount of positive mentions of this Western Ave standby.

    Goat Soup-ReneG likes it.

    TonyC is pleasantly surprised by unattentive service.

    The Gold Standard for panchan.

    On being open for the better part of 24 hours a day.

    LAZ’s account of a late night meal.

    San Soo Gap San
    5247 N. Western Ave., Chicago
    (773) 334-1589
  • Post #2 - June 11th, 2006, 4:20 pm
    Post #2 - June 11th, 2006, 4:20 pm Post #2 - June 11th, 2006, 4:20 pm
    I think San Soo Gab San (it's Gab not Gap, right?) was one of those places that was talked about a lot on Chowhound and so the initial folks here, at least, had sort of talked it out for a time. (I know it was on the 24-Hour-a-Thon.) But your pics alone make a good case!
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #3 - June 11th, 2006, 4:40 pm
    Post #3 - June 11th, 2006, 4:40 pm Post #3 - June 11th, 2006, 4:40 pm
    Yea--technically I think it's "gap", and plus, they put "gap" on the menu. There is one hangul symbol for both "b" and "p," but the pronunciation depends on where it falls in the word and what letters surround it. The McCune-Reischauer system was officially adopted by the Korean government in 2000, and according to this Romanization construct, it should be San Soo Gap San (when the b/p symbol falls at the end of a "syllable" and it is not preceded by another consonant, it is pronounced "p." Prior to 2000, though, I assume it was "b."

    Too much information, no?
  • Post #4 - June 11th, 2006, 4:43 pm
    Post #4 - June 11th, 2006, 4:43 pm Post #4 - June 11th, 2006, 4:43 pm
    Yeah, I was just thinkin', what's it say on the sign...
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #5 - June 12th, 2006, 9:52 am
    Post #5 - June 12th, 2006, 9:52 am Post #5 - June 12th, 2006, 9:52 am
    I want a big print of the panchan montage to hang on my wall. Very cool.
  • Post #6 - June 12th, 2006, 3:32 pm
    Post #6 - June 12th, 2006, 3:32 pm Post #6 - June 12th, 2006, 3:32 pm
    Trixie-Pea,

    Truthfully until last year I was luke warm on San Soo Gap San, incorrectly believing it's main virtue were the late hours of operation. One meal at San Soo in your, and Pigmon's, company introducing me to the joys of San Soo's soups was all it took to change my mind.

    Second, third or fourth, I'm happy to 'testify'.

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

    Low & Slow
  • Post #7 - June 21st, 2006, 3:26 pm
    Post #7 - June 21st, 2006, 3:26 pm Post #7 - June 21st, 2006, 3:26 pm
    As part of G Wiv's Cultural Ambassadorship, presenting American comedy to the Asian peoples by visiting restaurants in Chicago, I accompanied him to San Soo Gap San today for lunch. Here's a picture of the welcome his humor and attempts to be ingratiating received:

    Image

    G Wiv was asked of every single dish he tried to order if he'd had it before, of every single spicy dish if he knew it was spicy, and generally if he knew the restaurant was Korean about eight times. When he attempted to be humorous about their repeated nannyism on the subject of gringos eating their food, you could see in her eyes it only confirmed her low opinion of us. At the end I took a wrong turn looking for the bathroom, and was stopped by a stern look from an aged man who, I think, had practiced that look singlehandedly guarding one side of the DMZ for twenty years. Oh, and then at the end of the meal, G Wiv screwed up paying and was nearly wrestled to the ground and beaten for our money.

    But enough about San Soo Gap San as an exemplar of hospitality. How was the food? Pretty good, though I can see how it would be better at midnight with a lot of booze in you.

    In addition to the round of panchan (I bet G Wiv a dollar we wouldn't even get it, but lost), we started with decent, not spectacular pot stickers:

    Image

    And cold buckwheat noodles in vinegar and hot sauce, which as cold clammy things go, are pretty scarfable.

    Image

    G Wiv got tongue soup, it was tonguey, I got dolsot bimbop, which I would say was pretty good...

    Image

    Maybe a notch shy of the stuff at Kang Nam which has way more burnt edges, this stuff just made a mildly crispy crust, still a wonderful thing and easy to love when you need starches to soak up alcohol, I'm sure...

    Image

    A fine comfort dish, one that more people would no doubt try and love if Korean restaurants didn't try to scare you away, let's have another macro look at it...

    Image

    And it came with a side of fermented-soybean-that-isn't-exactly-miso soup, too. Anyway, a good meal, a slightly difficult experience, sounds like par for the course at San Soo Gap San...

    The service is harried and stern but at the same time endearing in a bdsm sort of way.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #8 - June 21st, 2006, 3:41 pm
    Post #8 - June 21st, 2006, 3:41 pm Post #8 - June 21st, 2006, 3:41 pm
    Hi,

    I was only there once with Psychchef and Extramsg. I knew Psychchef like the place, I didn't realize he was as much of a regular as he proved to be. Since we were with Psychchef we received none of the questioning and were treated like friends of the family. It proves that if you are willing to make the effort to be recognized as a regular, then even glacial servers will warm.

    Of course, they are not really open 24 hours. Psychchef and I arrived there just after 5 AM one morning to be advised they are closed for cleaning. If we came back around 10 or 11 AM, then we would be welcome.

    This place was also the 3 AM stop on the 24-hour-athon when Monica Eng joined the group. Monica enthusiastically ordered more food than the group was prepared to eat being 15 hours into their 24-hour feast. Interestingly, there is one other 24-hour-athon stop nominated for GNR this time: Shan for the brains masala.

    Regards,
    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 #9 - June 21st, 2006, 4:22 pm
    Post #9 - June 21st, 2006, 4:22 pm Post #9 - June 21st, 2006, 4:22 pm
    MikeGWiv,

    If it's any consolation, for this first dozen times I ate there, they treated me the same way. Cold, skeptical, and unaccomodating--and I'm Korean (looking). Now, even though somtimes they still act this way, they know what I like to order--they laugh, and say "Always Kalbi Tang! Always Kalbi Tang!" They know that PIGMON always wants extra radish kimchee. It's heartwarming. :shock: .

    I didn't say this in my initial post, but I really don't like anything there that has rice in it--which means I never order bibimbap there. I find their rice to be mushy. (Great, now if this place gets nominated--their going to read this, and hate me forever.)

    At any rate, I'm not withdrawing my nomination by any means, but due to the lack of enthusiasm, support, and consensus on SSGS--I'm not sure if it would be a good GNR recipient.
  • Post #10 - June 21st, 2006, 4:25 pm
    Post #10 - June 21st, 2006, 4:25 pm Post #10 - June 21st, 2006, 4:25 pm
    I wasn't knocking it for the award per se. As it said in the announcement for the previous round:

    The Great Neighborhood Restaurant awards honor restaurants all over the Chicagoland area which contribute to their neighborhoods’ and the city’s character by offering outstanding food, an authentic experience of their ethnic culture, and/or a welcoming (or in some cases, belovedly cranky) atmosphere for guests.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #11 - June 21st, 2006, 4:31 pm
    Post #11 - June 21st, 2006, 4:31 pm Post #11 - June 21st, 2006, 4:31 pm
    trixie-pea wrote:At any rate, I'm not withdrawing my nomination by any means, but due to the lack of enthusiasm, support, and consensus on SSGS--I'm not sure if it would be a good GNR recipient.


    To the rescue again :wink:

    For years, this was my go to for Korean BBQ, and probably only 'cause I'm a glutton, do I tend to end up more these days at Garden Buffet when I want Korean BBQ. I've always been happy with the stuff here, and surely very happy here on that late night adventure.

    I'm in.
  • Post #12 - June 22nd, 2006, 11:11 am
    Post #12 - June 22nd, 2006, 11:11 am Post #12 - June 22nd, 2006, 11:11 am
    trixie-pea wrote:At any rate, I'm not withdrawing my nomination by any means, but due to the lack of enthusiasm, support, and consensus on SSGS--I'm not sure if it would be a good GNR recipient.

    Trixie-Pea,

    No one would even remotely suggest you withdraw your nomination. There's no GNR requirement that staff be sugar sweet, pillow fluffing, Doris Day types, and speaking for myself I absolutely think SSGS is a great GNR nomination.

    Also, it's not like I haven't gotten the 'you won't like that' treatment before* and SSGS was not particularly egregious. I'm sure they get many a late night customer who, though spicy seems a good idea through beer goggles, are not pleased when the dish comes to the table.

    I should also point out the noodles in spicy sauce Mike mentions were actually Hae Naeng Myun (cold buckwheat noodles w/spicy sauce, raw fish and vegetables) Which I ordered, with a bit of convincing that yes, I knew the there was raw fish in the dish, before Mike arrived.

    Far as the bill goes, I had complete brain fade, total user error on my part and, given the circumstances, I thought they were quite nice about it. Tab came to the table, we did the tip math, each put down half in cash and Mike went to the restroom. As I stood up I noticed the bills were askew, picked up the cash, arranged them in neat order and, instead of putting the money back on the table, for some unknown reason I put it in my pocket and started for the door.

    I stopped to take a few pictures in the front and was breathlessly approached as to the lack of payment. Once again, under the circumstances I thought they were quite polite. I apologized profusely, added an extra $5 to the original 20% tip to show good intent, apologized again, and left feeling foolish.

    I can only hope they don't remember me next time I'm at SSGS.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    *
    8.26.03
    New Japan Restaurant

    Got to the Evanston Farmers market a bit late two Saturdays ago so a light lunch, before going to a family party later that afternoon, seemed just the ticket. Just as I had this thought I noticed an open meter directly in front of New Japan, time for lunch.

    Place had just opened for the day and there was a pleasant, slightly older, Asian woman serving as waitress, hostess and prepcook. The first wee tickle of annoyance came as she asked me if I realized that this was a Japanese restaurant, and, even though I answered in the affirmative, double checked, pointing to the name on the menu. OK, no problem, I was hot, thirsty and she seemed well intentioned.

    Wanting something light, and having just spent more money than I would have ever thought possible on tomatoes, peppers and fruit at the farmers market, I opted for the reasonably priced and imaginatively named Sushi A this was where the real annoyance began. As soon as I ordered Sushi A she asked me if I knew that this was sushi...raw fish...uncooked fish. Even though I answered in the affirmative and thanked her for the info, she was not close to satisfied. She explains, again, that this is fish, raw fish, on rice, not deep fried and that might I not prefer shrimp tempura, which is deep fried.

    OK, at this point I am starting to get actually annoyed, but the thing is that I am a bit grubby and sweaty from wandering the Farmers Market in 95° heat and not in the best of moods, I do not want, under any circumstance, to over react, so I do not react at all. Also given the fact that I am 3 times as large as her and, even though I am friendly as a puppy, don't appear that way, I simply, and politely, restate that I would like to order Sushi A, raw fish and all.

    What was actually running through my head at the time was asking her if when she walked into an American style coffee shop for a burger, coke and fries the counter man asked if she knew she was in an American restaurant. If she knew that french fries were not really French and were deep fried. Did she know that hamburger came from a cow and was griddled ground beef served on a bun, that it was......well, you get the point.

    Now if the food had actually been good, well then maybe it would have been worth the inquisition, but the three bland nigiri that came with Sushi A were better suited to the day-old bin at Dominck's and the California maki was ridiculous, and I am not referring to the surimi instead of crab, which I expected, but the fact that from the texture of the rice I could tell the maki rolls were made the day before. (The texture of the rice is the giveaway, not the nori. Pre-made maki are rolled/stored in plastic wrap and wrapped with nori just before service.)

    I will say the miso soup was quite good, obviously made with shaved bonito, kombu and someone who actually cared about what they were doing. If the soup is any indication of potential I may just have caught them at a bad moment, or maybe it was my punishment for ordering a combo with California rolls in the first place. (smile)

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

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - June 26th, 2006, 2:59 pm
    Post #13 - June 26th, 2006, 2:59 pm Post #13 - June 26th, 2006, 2:59 pm
    ehh... a nomination thread in which i'm (sorta) quoted twice... this place better not only stay nominated, but win.

    plus i'd give $1 to see the face of the proprietors when "gringos" show up to present a piece of laminated plastic.
  • Post #14 - February 28th, 2008, 7:15 am
    Post #14 - February 28th, 2008, 7:15 am Post #14 - February 28th, 2008, 7:15 am
    TonyC wrote:plus i'd give $1 to see the face of the proprietors when "gringos" show up to present a piece of laminated plastic.

    Tony, you owe me $1.

    [b]Trixie-Pea (L) Cindy Moon (Owner L)[/img]
    Image
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #15 - February 28th, 2008, 7:19 am
    Post #15 - February 28th, 2008, 7:19 am Post #15 - February 28th, 2008, 7:19 am
    LTH,

    San Soo Gab San is a solid regular in my restaurant rotation. Terrific array of panchan, maybe the best in town, Korean BBQ grilled with live lump charcoal and a solid cast of kitchen prepared dishes.

    I heartily endorse San Soo Gab San for GNR renewal!

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

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - February 28th, 2008, 8:43 am
    Post #16 - February 28th, 2008, 8:43 am Post #16 - February 28th, 2008, 8:43 am
    We love SSGS, and have never had an issue with the service. Typically we go on Saturdays @ 11:00 a.m., and have the place pretty much to ourselves. Great Korean BBQ, and a few OB beers, and my Saturday is off to a great start.

    A definite GNR.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



    @GrubSeeker
  • Post #17 - February 28th, 2008, 11:15 am
    Post #17 - February 28th, 2008, 11:15 am Post #17 - February 28th, 2008, 11:15 am
    I think this puts me in the minority, but after a few test meals at both SSGS and Hai Woon Dae, I actually settled on SSGS as my favored spot between the two. Both should absolutely be renewed, but SSGS is the one that I can't stay away from.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #18 - February 28th, 2008, 11:18 am
    Post #18 - February 28th, 2008, 11:18 am Post #18 - February 28th, 2008, 11:18 am
    I'm a fan. Although, the last time I was there I sat "downwind" of our coals. I don't think my clothes have ever smelled worse after leaving a restaurant.

    That being said, the food rocked.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #19 - February 28th, 2008, 3:52 pm
    Post #19 - February 28th, 2008, 3:52 pm Post #19 - February 28th, 2008, 3:52 pm
    jesteinf wrote:I'm a fan. Although, the last time I was there I sat "downwind" of our coals. I don't think my clothes have ever smelled worse after leaving a restaurant.

    That being said, the food rocked.

    You may be happy to learn that since their remodel, the exhaust fans over the tables seem to have been replaced or refurbished and they now work really well. After my last meal there a few weeks ago, there was no smoke scent on my clothes, whatsoever. Heck, I sort of missed it :wink:

    In any event, absolutely endorse a GNR renewal for SSGS

    =R=
    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French

    I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider
  • Post #20 - February 28th, 2008, 8:44 pm
    Post #20 - February 28th, 2008, 8:44 pm Post #20 - February 28th, 2008, 8:44 pm
    I'll also add my support for SSGS's renewal. I've probably been there 5 times since October and have never failed to have a wonderful meal both in terms of the quality of food and friendly, efficient service for groups ranging in size from 2 to 10. Much like Tank Noodle for Vietnamese, there may be places that have a dish here and there that are superior to the versions offered at SSGS, the latter is my go to because they do pretty much everything well.
  • Post #21 - March 10th, 2008, 8:04 am
    Post #21 - March 10th, 2008, 8:04 am Post #21 - March 10th, 2008, 8:04 am
    San Soo Gap San was jumping Sunday at 9pm, even to the point of a short wait for a table. Mixed crowd, even a table of very well dressed women, think the ladies who lunch crowd at RL, who Peter D thought had SSGS confused with Walker Brothers. :)

    Service was quite good, though the waitress made sure I knew my order of tongue and tendon was........tongue and tendon. Panchan plentiful, tongue and tendon delicious in all of it's offaly glory and Peter's spicy shredded beef soup (yuk gae jang ) the perfect antidote for his impending cold.

    Strong, SSGS remains strong in all categories.

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

    Low & Slow
  • Post #22 - March 19th, 2010, 3:17 pm
    Post #22 - March 19th, 2010, 3:17 pm Post #22 - March 19th, 2010, 3:17 pm
    I haven't been for about six months, but it was great. I love this place.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #23 - March 19th, 2010, 5:09 pm
    Post #23 - March 19th, 2010, 5:09 pm Post #23 - March 19th, 2010, 5:09 pm
    Had several great evenings at SSGS in the last few months and have LTH to thank (searching for a good Korean BBQ option was what actually led me to LTH!!). Each time I've been there with a group and we've enjoyed the interesting panchan selection, the wonderful seafood pancake and, of course, the meat. Add in some good beer, soju and good company and it's definitely a destination!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #24 - March 26th, 2010, 4:51 pm
    Post #24 - March 26th, 2010, 4:51 pm Post #24 - March 26th, 2010, 4:51 pm
    I had always been a Hai Woon Dae guy, but decided to branch out and try SSGS last month. Charcoal, good beef and squid, pleasantly chaotic and worn atmosphere, and panchan to die for.

    The only problem is that now I have to decide where to go when I need my Korean BBQ fix. But aside from that personal challenge, SSGS is great for me.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #25 - April 1st, 2010, 11:21 am
    Post #25 - April 1st, 2010, 11:21 am Post #25 - April 1st, 2010, 11:21 am
    One cold snowy day not long ago, Pigmon picked me up and drove to SSGS for some sundubu jjigae, a dish he's championed to me since taking me to Cho Jung in Glenview for quite possibly the best version to be had locally. A pity lth'rs that went to check that place out neglected to order it. With that as my barometer, this was excellent. Complex, intense and spicy. With nearly 20 varieties of panchan and two soups, it was under $20. A great lunch and one of the better delicious interesting food to value ratios I'm aware of.

    Then there's the bbq, the yook hwe (raw beef w/Asian pear and sesame oil) and the grilled mackerel. Open late? No problem. GNR renewal? No problem as well.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #26 - April 3rd, 2010, 7:39 am
    Post #26 - April 3rd, 2010, 7:39 am Post #26 - April 3rd, 2010, 7:39 am
    LTH,

    Live fire BBQ, wide tasty selection of panchan and delicious soups. I am always happy to go go SSGS.

    San Soo Gap San, count me a fan!

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

    Low & Slow

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more