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    Post #1 - December 1st, 2006, 6:02 pm
    Post #1 - December 1st, 2006, 6:02 pm Post #1 - December 1st, 2006, 6:02 pm
    there are several mentions in passing of ken's diner, in skokie, but i cant find any comments on the food. anyone been? their website is full of hyperbole, which i find annoying (can this really be the 'most popular kosher restaurant in the world?), but i've got a friend who wants to try it. the menu couldnt be more pedestrian. (or its other half, bugsy's charhouse?) thanks, justjoan
  • Post #2 - December 1st, 2006, 6:23 pm
    Post #2 - December 1st, 2006, 6:23 pm Post #2 - December 1st, 2006, 6:23 pm
    I could recommend Ken's ONLY if you really require a kosher meal. The food (kosher "fast food" as it were) is OK, and like most kosher restaurants, somewhat on the pricey side. The atmoshphere can be absolutely mind-numbing with a lot of kids running around unsupervised, and parents screaming. The "Buddy Burgers" are the main draw here, and are fine as far as hamburgers go. On a busy night the wait for your food can be unbelievable long, and it has been my experience that their track record in getting orders correct is fairly poor.
  • Post #3 - December 1st, 2006, 6:57 pm
    Post #3 - December 1st, 2006, 6:57 pm Post #3 - December 1st, 2006, 6:57 pm
    thanks, luvstoeat. i dont need kosher food and i get a good feel for the place after reading your description. i think i'll stay away. justjoan
  • Post #4 - December 1st, 2006, 8:35 pm
    Post #4 - December 1st, 2006, 8:35 pm Post #4 - December 1st, 2006, 8:35 pm
    justjoan wrote:there are several mentions in passing of ken's diner, in skokie, but i cant find any comments on the food. anyone been? their website is full of hyperbole, which i find annoying (can this really be the 'most popular kosher restaurant in the world?), but i've got a friend who wants to try it. the menu couldnt be more pedestrian. (or its other half, bugsy's charhouse?) thanks, justjoan
    Hi JJ, I have been to Ken's a few times. It is a retro-style soda fountain and burger joint. It is all decked out in red and white Coca-Cola colors, with formica booths and a lunch counter with sparklene covered stools. Lots of 50s and 60s soda fountain memorabilia. Cute, Kitschy and Kosher. The burgers and fries are actually pretty good. Not great, but not bad at all. It is much like any other retro-themed diner, but a little more expensive. Obviously, the main attraction is the Kosher aspect. One cool thing is they make egg creams.

    I have not eaten at Bugsy's, which has a nostalgic gas-station/gangster hangout theme (no doubt an homage to Bugsy Siegel). It seems popular enough, but I have heard the food is very mediocre and very over-priced. Again, it exists soley on its uniqeness as a family-style nostalgia-themed Kosher restaurant, a sort of TGI Friday's for observant Jews. Unfortunately, like many of the Kosher restaurants in Skokie, I think it exploits a market that has limited choices.
    Last edited by d4v3 on December 3rd, 2006, 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #5 - December 1st, 2006, 9:10 pm
    Post #5 - December 1st, 2006, 9:10 pm Post #5 - December 1st, 2006, 9:10 pm
    I do not keep kosher in any sense I I really like Ken's. They have a great burger and a great steak sandwich. When I lived in the area I would go out of my way to go and eat there!
  • Post #6 - December 2nd, 2006, 10:46 am
    Post #6 - December 2nd, 2006, 10:46 am Post #6 - December 2nd, 2006, 10:46 am
    I know some people really do like their burgers (my kids, for instance); I think they're good enough if not great. Of course because it is kosher you can't get a cheeseburger. It hasn't been especially crowded when we've been there (which hasn't been that often) and I will note that Ken and his brother (whose name I forget) are interesting and gregarious fellows and have been very nice to my kids.
    ToniG
  • Post #7 - December 2nd, 2006, 9:29 pm
    Post #7 - December 2nd, 2006, 9:29 pm Post #7 - December 2nd, 2006, 9:29 pm
    HI,

    I went to Bugsy's a few years ago, pre-LTHforum, because we were entertaining two guests from Israel. Only one was Kosher, though his requirements dictated where to eat. Bugsy's is considered one of the better Kosher restaurants in the area where there are really very few. My comments on my visit can be found here.

    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 #8 - January 2nd, 2007, 9:11 pm
    Post #8 - January 2nd, 2007, 9:11 pm Post #8 - January 2nd, 2007, 9:11 pm
    Just an FYI, Ken closed Bugsy's and opened up a dairy pizza place called Malibu's in the old Bugsy space. I haven't eaten there yet but word on the (kosher) street is it's pretty good. Apparently they do a good veggie-roni pizza. Can't wait to try it myself!

    As for Ken's, I would not seek it out except that I prefer to eat kosher meat, and it's one of the few inexpensive places to get it. The meat tends to the salty side; ask them to hold off on Ken's special sauce, which makes the meat super salty. Also request unsalted fries. Did I mention the food can be salty?

    The five or six times I've been to Ken's it's not been that raucous. At least twice, our family was one of only two tables. I'm not sure when Ken's is busy, but it hasn't been on any of my visits.
    "You should eat!"
  • Post #9 - January 2nd, 2007, 9:59 pm
    Post #9 - January 2nd, 2007, 9:59 pm Post #9 - January 2nd, 2007, 9:59 pm
    I've had lunch there, don't keep Kosher cause I'm not Jewish. Ken filled me in on the history of kosher eating and the healthy aspect of not mixing dairy with my meat. Good food fair price, nice lunch.

    if I kept kosher I'd eat there more often.
  • Post #10 - January 2nd, 2007, 10:16 pm
    Post #10 - January 2nd, 2007, 10:16 pm Post #10 - January 2nd, 2007, 10:16 pm
    i go to ken's a lot. it's often crowded early, like 5:30-6pm. they close at around 8:15 which can get annoying.
    i find the burger buddy is done too well for my taste, so i ask for it med. rare.
    it's ok, nothing special. i don't think i would go there if i didn't keep kosher.
    i heard the new malibu pizza is awful. great, just what we need, another kosher pizza place with too-sweet sauce, soggy crust and sub-par cheese!
    they couldn't have made it a kosher thai place? mexican? sushi even?
    Happiness is a path, not a destination.
  • Post #11 - January 2nd, 2007, 10:38 pm
    Post #11 - January 2nd, 2007, 10:38 pm Post #11 - January 2nd, 2007, 10:38 pm
    kenji wrote:I've had lunch there, don't keep Kosher cause I'm not Jewish. Ken filled me in on the history of kosher eating and the healthy aspect of not mixing dairy with my meat.

    Just curious. I am Jewish and don't keep kosher, but I haven't heard the health rationale for not mixing dairy with meat--the only reason I know not to mix dairy with meat was that God said not to. What was the health rationale Ken gave you?
  • Post #12 - January 2nd, 2007, 11:22 pm
    Post #12 - January 2nd, 2007, 11:22 pm Post #12 - January 2nd, 2007, 11:22 pm
    Rachel B. wrote:i heard the new malibu pizza is awful. great, just what we need, another kosher pizza place with too-sweet sauce, soggy crust and sub-par cheese!
    they couldn't have made it a kosher thai place? mexican? sushi even?


    There was an absolutely awful Kosher Thai place on Dempster just west of Mc Cormick called Tu Do a couple of years back -- in the space now vacated by a successor equally-bad Kosher middle eastern place whose name escapes me. And for a mediocre example of Kosher Sushi, try Da'Nali's Brick Oven Pizza (on Oakton) on "Sushi Tuesday" -- passable as most sushi is inherently kosher in my book, but nothing to go out of your way for (and obviously no shrimp, crab or other shellfish.)

    >>Brent (who at times has to go to such places with observant relatives)
    "Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise."
  • Post #13 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:24 am
    Post #13 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:24 am Post #13 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:24 am
    d4v3 wrote:One cool thing is they make egg creams.

    How can a Kosher place that serves hamburgers also make egg creams? A proper egg cream is a chocolate soda, usually made from chocolate syrup and soda water, mixed with milk.

    riddlemay wrote:Just curious. I am Jewish and don't keep kosher, but I haven't heard the health rationale for not mixing dairy with meat--the only reason I know not to mix dairy with meat was that God said not to.

    I always heard that the historical reason for the religious proscription against mixing meat and milk was rooted in ethical reasons. However, a quick check of Wikipedia notes that "There continues to be a debate among various theories about the purposes and meaning of the laws regarding Kashrut." (See Kashrut entry and scroll down to "Attempts to explain the Kashrut laws".)
  • Post #14 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:32 am
    Post #14 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:32 am Post #14 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:32 am
    nsxtasy wrote:
    d4v3 wrote:One cool thing is they make egg creams.

    How can a Kosher place that serves hamburgers also make egg creams? A proper egg cream is a chocolate soda, usually made from chocolate syrup and soda water, mixed with milk.


    Two ways:

    1) They have a separate dairy kitchen and they don't serve it with meat items. I don't think this is the case with Ken's.

    2) They use dairy substitutes. I know Ken's serves pareve "ice cream" and "whipped cream". I'm guessing that they have a pareve milk substitute, likely soy-based.

    And, yes, a debate does continue about the meaning and purpose of kosher laws.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #15 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:49 am
    Post #15 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:49 am Post #15 - January 3rd, 2007, 10:49 am
    riddlemay wrote:[ What was the health rationale Ken gave you?


    He talked about how the stomach and lower GI "worked" and went into a kind of new age/high colonic kind of conversation. And that it's better for you not to try and digest dairy and meats at the same time.
  • Post #16 - January 3rd, 2007, 12:34 pm
    Post #16 - January 3rd, 2007, 12:34 pm Post #16 - January 3rd, 2007, 12:34 pm
    eatchicago wrote:I know Ken's serves pareve "ice cream" and "whipped cream". I'm guessing that they have a pareve milk substitute, likely soy-based.
    I think that is the case. I used to go to Ken's from time to time because my young nephew, who lived nearby, liked the decor and the burgers (not because they were kosher). It never crossed my mind that the egg creams must have been made with soy milk.
  • Post #17 - January 3rd, 2007, 5:17 pm
    Post #17 - January 3rd, 2007, 5:17 pm Post #17 - January 3rd, 2007, 5:17 pm
    As to the origins of Kosher laws, two articles which make very different arguments about this subject can be found in a collection edited by Carol Counihan and Penny Van Esterik entitled Food and Culture: A Reader (I have sited other essays from this collection when the discussions here have gotten academic; I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy intellectual discourses about food.) Jean Solar’s “The Semiotics of Food in the Bible” argues (controversially) that Kosher laws came into being (and have been perpetuated) largely to maintain distinctions between Jews and non-Jews: he states in closing that “the rule of refusing all that is hybrid, mixed, or arrived at by synthesis and compromise, can be seen in action to this day in Israel, and not only in its cuisine.” (I’m only quoting to stir enough interest to send folks off to the book – I’m not looking to set up a heated exchange here!) Less sensationally, Marvin Harris, in “The Abominable Pig,” argues that the dietary restrictions arrived at by Jews (and Muslims and Hindus) arose for those groups out of the specific ecological and agricultural circumstances they faced (though he debunks the old argument that pork was prohibited because it was deemed unhealthy to eat.) Reading these essays won’t put an end to the debate but will provide interesting fodder for discussions with Ken at his diner.
    ToniG
  • Post #18 - January 3rd, 2007, 5:27 pm
    Post #18 - January 3rd, 2007, 5:27 pm Post #18 - January 3rd, 2007, 5:27 pm
    ToniG wrote: fodder


    Oy Vey! This pun kills!
  • Post #19 - January 4th, 2007, 8:36 am
    Post #19 - January 4th, 2007, 8:36 am Post #19 - January 4th, 2007, 8:36 am
    The meat tends to the salty side; ask them to hold off on Ken's special sauce, which makes the meat super salty. Also request unsalted fries. Did I mention the food can be salty?


    The Torah prohibits consumption of blood. (Lev. 7:26-27; Lev. 17:10-14). Consequently, both kosher butchers and cooks often use salt to ensure complete drainage, and this might account for the saltiness of the meat (even sans sauce) at Ken's. For the same reason, you might be disappointed at a kosher restaurant if you like your steaks, hamburgers rare or even medium. The above prohibition, by the way, does not apply to fish.

    For more info, check out: http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm#Blood
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #20 - January 6th, 2007, 6:36 pm
    Post #20 - January 6th, 2007, 6:36 pm Post #20 - January 6th, 2007, 6:36 pm
    The Torah prohibits consumption of blood. (Lev. 7:26-27; Lev. 17:10-14). Consequently, both kosher butchers and cooks often use salt to ensure complete drainage, and this might account for the saltiness of the meat (even sans sauce) at Ken's.


    I keep kosher (but thanks for the kashrut lesson :)), so I'm aware that kosher meat is salted to remove the blood. I never add salt to meat when I cook it at home. Ken's, though, is exceptionally salty especially with Ken's sauce, which is something other people visiting the place should be aware of. I've eaten at Taboun Grill and their meat is not nearly so salty.

    I might add that there is no ruling against eating meat cooked to rare or medium. The kashering process takes care of the blood and the degree to which the meat is cooked is not relevant. However, it is more traditional practice for kosher Jews to eat meat cooked to medium well as a preference, but it is not required. See the link below (and quote).

    http://www.schechter.edu/askrabbi/kashr ... umrare.htm
    For meat to be kosher, the animal is slaughtered by cutting the jugular artery and letting all the blood drain out. The meat is than rinsed and soaked in water for half an hour (Y.D. 69:1 in Rama). After the soaking, the meat is covered with salt and left for an hour to drain whatever blood may still remain. (Y.D. 69:4-6). The meat is then abundantly rinsed. After this process, the meat is supposedly drained of all it's blood, and the length of cooking no longer matters. (empahsis added)


    At Ken's or any other kosher meat restaurant, they will tend to cook meat to medium well, so be sure to ask if you want to see any pink in your burger!

    Shavua Tov (Good Week) to all!
    "You should eat!"
  • Post #21 - March 12th, 2008, 6:02 pm
    Post #21 - March 12th, 2008, 6:02 pm Post #21 - March 12th, 2008, 6:02 pm
    I throw my vote to Ken's Diner - I like their burger and their skirt steak sandwiches - I find it a good value for the money -
  • Post #22 - March 12th, 2008, 7:16 pm
    Post #22 - March 12th, 2008, 7:16 pm Post #22 - March 12th, 2008, 7:16 pm
    riddlemay wrote:Just curious. I am Jewish and don't keep kosher, but I haven't heard the health rationale for not mixing dairy with meat--the only reason I know not to mix dairy with meat was that God said not to.


    Actually, the Mosaic law specified that you not boil a kid in its mother's milk. The not bringing any milk into proximity of any meat was a way of ensuring that one could not accidentally use a mother's milk or milk product with that animal's offspring. (And since folks generally had smallish herds, it was really likely that any given batch of milk would, in fact, include milk from the mother of whatever was being roasted that night.)
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #23 - February 4th, 2010, 2:38 pm
    Post #23 - February 4th, 2010, 2:38 pm Post #23 - February 4th, 2010, 2:38 pm
    On one of those trips back through the Dempster wilds of Skokie, hunger overcame us just before we got to McCormick Blvd - having travelled most of the roads on this strip, we followed Robert Frost to Ken's Diner, an old-fashioned jukebox-style place, well-covered with kitsch and pervasive shabbiness that somehow didn't strike me negatively - it reminded me a bit of a stuffed animal that's had all the fur loved off its ears. The air was filled with nostalgia radio; in general, I felt as though I was stepping through a time portal to a drive-in concession in 1950s midsummer. (I'd always surmised this was a small full-service diner, but it's more of a soda fountain with hotdogs and sandwiches.) As we poked around, curious, we saw a second section decorated like a tiki bar, but dark. The counterman noted (re: the empty tiki-bar decorated area) "that's milk, this is meat," and I remembered that Ken's was a kosher restaurant.

    Hard to tell this when you walk in, as you're immediately greeted by a full ice cream refrigerator right next to signs for hot dogs, but it turns out all the ice cream is soy-based pareve. We were clearly the only goyim the place has seen for many a month, although it didn't seem to phase either the counter staff or the few patrons who were scattered around on a snowy Monday. The day's special was a "Buffalo Chicken" sandwich with a kitschy title I don't recall, so I perused the menu and noticed a BLT - with "beef fry" instead of bacon.

    I bellied up to the counter and ordered one, complimenting him on their choice of meat. Hubs opted for the sandwich special, and we were directed to sit down and wait for our order "because it makes me look like I'm workin' if I bring it out to ya." Sandwiches were pretty good, if a little pricey for what they were: beef fry was thinly sliced fatty beef that had been deep fried. Though it wasn't bacon, it had a nice crunch and made for a good sandwich - it might have been pastrami or corned beef before it met the boiling oil. Both sandwiches suffered a bit from being over-mayoed, but it was pretty much what I'd been expecting. The BLT was served on SWB; I would probably order it again if I could change the bread to rye. Pricier than it's dog-stand cousin, it also had a good bit more meat, and came with freezer-style steak fries that had been fried until all the bad squooshiness was fried out of them. Hubby's chicken sandwich was kind of a composite hybrid of chicken salad served on something like a Turano roll; again, a bit pricey for what it was and a bit oversauced, but not bad. If you don't mind paying a bit more (sandwiches come with fries, but each was around $8) for the time-travel, kosher experience, this is a gentle way to check it out. (Sorry for the cell-phone shots.)

    Image

    Image

    Ken's Diner & Grill
    http://www.kensdiner.com
    3353 West Dempster Street
    Skokie, IL 60076-2411
    (847) 679-2850
  • Post #24 - February 4th, 2010, 3:43 pm
    Post #24 - February 4th, 2010, 3:43 pm Post #24 - February 4th, 2010, 3:43 pm
    Haven't been to Ken's in a while, but the times that I was there I'd usually get their burger. I think it was a half pound burger with the standard fixins and kind of their specialty. Kosher meat can be kind of dry at times, but Ken's burger was always cooked just right and had plenty of juice to run down my chin.

    Just checked their website...THE BURGER BUDDY A 1/2 lb. beef burger with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles, and our special sauce, fries and a small drink. They also have a Bison Burger which is a third of a pound.

    Prices are a bit higher because everything is kosher.
    "Call any vegetable...and the chances are good the vegetable will respond to you."
    --Frank Zappa
  • Post #25 - February 4th, 2010, 3:59 pm
    Post #25 - February 4th, 2010, 3:59 pm Post #25 - February 4th, 2010, 3:59 pm
    Also been a while for me, but their 1/2lb beef frye & mushroom burger was a guilty pleasure for me at one time. Sloppy, dense, flavorful and did I say sloppy? Fries needed work, but I rarely made it that far. You pay a premium, but it was a satisfying meal.
  • Post #26 - February 4th, 2010, 7:39 pm
    Post #26 - February 4th, 2010, 7:39 pm Post #26 - February 4th, 2010, 7:39 pm
    spinynorman99 wrote:Also been a while for me, but their 1/2lb beef frye & mushroom burger was a guilty pleasure for me at one time. Sloppy, dense, flavorful and did I say sloppy? Fries needed work, but I rarely made it that far. You pay a premium, but it was a satisfying meal.



    Its called the 'Bay-Ken" and a guilty pleasure of mine as well - you eat one of those and you are stuffed for a while -
  • Post #27 - February 9th, 2010, 10:38 am
    Post #27 - February 9th, 2010, 10:38 am Post #27 - February 9th, 2010, 10:38 am
    Ah, beef fry. I remember when I was a kid and we would visit my kosher aunt and uncle in Connecticut, they would usually have it in the house. My uncle would always tell us proudly, "it tastes just like bacon!" as he served it to us. It doesn't taste like bacon. But we never told him that, just ate it and smiled.

    I haven't thought of that stuff in years.

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #28 - February 9th, 2010, 12:51 pm
    Post #28 - February 9th, 2010, 12:51 pm Post #28 - February 9th, 2010, 12:51 pm
    "It doesn't taste like bacon. But we never told him that, just ate it and smiled."

    Not at all bacon-y, but it fits into a nice category of its own. Like fried salami.
  • Post #29 - February 9th, 2010, 1:41 pm
    Post #29 - February 9th, 2010, 1:41 pm Post #29 - February 9th, 2010, 1:41 pm
    I'm with you, norman - it's yummy stuff. Good to see the cow holding its own with the pig in crispy-fried goodness, even if it's different crispy-fried goodness.
  • Post #30 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:30 pm
    Post #30 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:30 pm Post #30 - April 22nd, 2013, 4:30 pm
    The owners of Ken's Diner are heros:

    Brothers help save victims from fiery Edens crash

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