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Korean Seoul Food Cafe - West Loop

Korean Seoul Food Cafe - West Loop
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  • Korean Seoul Food Cafe - West Loop

    Post #1 - October 12th, 2007, 3:29 pm
    Post #1 - October 12th, 2007, 3:29 pm Post #1 - October 12th, 2007, 3:29 pm
    I don't really know anything about this place yet besides the name and location.

    While I was driving home from work today I noticed that the awning for Cafe Axe Ole had been covered with a sign saying "Korean SeoulFood Cafe".

    Korean SeoulFood Cafe
    560 W Van Buren St
    Chicago, IL 60661
    312-427-4293

    Next door to Bombacigno's J & C Restaurant.
  • Post #2 - October 15th, 2007, 9:35 am
    Post #2 - October 15th, 2007, 9:35 am Post #2 - October 15th, 2007, 9:35 am
    Sounds cool... anyone been there?
  • Post #3 - October 15th, 2007, 11:27 am
    Post #3 - October 15th, 2007, 11:27 am Post #3 - October 15th, 2007, 11:27 am
    Yeah, I don't know about the 'Korean' part, but the formerly good Mexican dish (steak tacos) I ordered was pretty damn tough.
  • Post #4 - November 1st, 2007, 7:14 am
    Post #4 - November 1st, 2007, 7:14 am Post #4 - November 1st, 2007, 7:14 am
    I stopped by this place yesterday. Unfortunately, I had already eaten, so I was really just there to check out the menu. They have a pretty short, but focused menu of Korea lunch specials including a "hot and spicy Korean beef veggie soup" and bi bim bop. They also have some less Korean, more Chinese dishes like BBQ pork, and sweet and sour chicken. The menu also still has standard Mexican and American diner fare. To see the the Korean menu you have to go inside.

    I spoke briefly with the owner as I was perusing the menu. He was a real friendly guy, who said his goal was to make "hard core Korean" with a few good Chinese and Asian dishes as well. He said on Fridays they have an all you can eat buffet for $6.99 that will have a few very good items. He talked derisively of Chinese buffets that offer too many bad options.

    He seemed like a good guy, and very dedicated to making "real Korean food." It's a too far out of my way to be a regular stop, but I am definitely going to go back and try the food.

    If anyone has tried this place, please report.
  • Post #5 - November 3rd, 2007, 2:03 pm
    Post #5 - November 3rd, 2007, 2:03 pm Post #5 - November 3rd, 2007, 2:03 pm
    Went to the Friday "buffet" yesterday. A bit of an odd experience. Apparently the steam table had not been delivered, so as opposed to having a standard buffet where one goes and serves themselves, the "buffet" was served by a waitress. This was pretty awkward. The restaurant was fairly crowded, and service was very slow. The kitchen seemed to have a difficult time keeping up with the number of buffet orders, and the only waitress was fairly slammed and getting quite frustrated.

    The food itself wasn't bad. There was one plate of appetizers which consisted of some very small, but decently flavored chicken wings; some vegetable tempura; and some fried dumplings filled with pork. The main courses were some sort of beef chop suey looking item, a fairly spicy braised chicken leg, some vegetables, and fried rice. The appetizers and the chicken leg were the highlights. I didn't try to get seconds (although they were available). I just thought it would take too long.

    I felt bad for the owner and waitress who were clearly overwhelmed by the lunch crowd looking for a buffet. If I were them, I would have canceled the buffet when the steam table didn't arrive. Live and learn.

    This place is out of the way for me lunch-wise, but I would like to give it another chance. The food was fairly well prepared, and the food at the tables that had ordered menu items rather than the buffet also looked good.

    I noticed a fellow sitting at the bar taking pictures of his food. I can only assume he was an LTHer. I look forward to seeing his pictures and hearing his thoughts.
  • Post #6 - November 3rd, 2007, 4:35 pm
    Post #6 - November 3rd, 2007, 4:35 pm Post #6 - November 3rd, 2007, 4:35 pm
    Giallo wrote:I look forward to seeing his pictures and hearing his thoughts.

    I wasn't going to post but here's my report since you asked for it. I don't think I liked the place nearly as much as you.

    The first plate served to me was fried stuff (tempura, dumplings, chicken wings), served cold, without sauces or other accompaniments. Not an auspicious beginning.

    Image

    Round two was pepper steak, beef with mushrooms, and chicken with turnip. The long-cooked chicken wasn't bad and the turnip was very tasty, the lone redeeming feature of the meal. No panchan were served but I did get a big plate of pretty good kimchee after I asked.

    Image

    Not having suffered enough, I asked if I'd tried everything and was rewarded with some sweet and sour chicken plus an eggroll adrift in a pool of syrup. The worst plate of food I've had in quite some time.

    Image

    Korean Seoulfood Café
    560 W Van Buren St
    Chicago
    312-427-4293

    Edited to fix links.
    Last edited by Rene G on January 19th, 2010, 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #7 - November 3rd, 2007, 4:56 pm
    Post #7 - November 3rd, 2007, 4:56 pm Post #7 - November 3rd, 2007, 4:56 pm
    Rene G wrote:[Image


    That is horrifying
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #8 - November 3rd, 2007, 7:30 pm
    Post #8 - November 3rd, 2007, 7:30 pm Post #8 - November 3rd, 2007, 7:30 pm
    Yeah. Those pictures are about right. I guess I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt as this was clearly a rough day, and it seems to be a fairly new family run business.
  • Post #9 - November 6th, 2007, 12:32 pm
    Post #9 - November 6th, 2007, 12:32 pm Post #9 - November 6th, 2007, 12:32 pm
    I went in a couple of weeks ago and tried the beef bibimbap. Adequate at best. I would never ever order it again.

    Decided to check the place out again today and ordered the hot and spicy beef veggie soup. Turned out to be yukgaejang, which actually was decent. Could have been spicier, but it hit the spot on a cold day like today.
  • Post #10 - November 10th, 2007, 9:54 am
    Post #10 - November 10th, 2007, 9:54 am Post #10 - November 10th, 2007, 9:54 am
    True to my word, I gave this place a second try. On buffet Friday no less. Although apparently they have discontinued the buffet for the moment (wisely, I might add).

    This time around I ordered the BBQ pork, which is basically pork bulgogi. I thought it was quite good. My co-diner ordered the pork bibimbop. He enjoyed it. Both were served with some sort of bean thread soup which I though was a bit bland, but my friend liked.

    My main problem with this place is not the food, but consistency of service and lack of attention to details. At one table I saw kimchi and some panchan. I assumed our table would be getting some as well. When the main dishes arrived without any, I asked the server and she brought some out. The kimchi was quite good, but I was kind of irked that we had to ask for it. The menu states the entrees come with soup, salad, and a dumpling, yet neither of us got salad (which I assume is the panchan/kimchi) and only I got a dumpling.

    I want to like this place. The owner is likable, it's a good value, and I've enjoyed the food. However the lack of attention to key details is frustrating and prevents me from giving a very enthusiastic endorsement.
  • Post #11 - January 1st, 2009, 12:03 pm
    Post #11 - January 1st, 2009, 12:03 pm Post #11 - January 1st, 2009, 12:03 pm
    Korean Seoulfood Cafe "appears" to be gone: there is a new sign up pronouncing "Cafe [triangle]xe Ole"; a tiny bent piece of paper in the windowsill proclaims "Opening January 2009" but the restaurant seems to be functioning as normal when I walked past a few days ago. A white banner in Korean hangs over the door--maybe it tells the story?
  • Post #12 - November 5th, 2009, 2:38 pm
    Post #12 - November 5th, 2009, 2:38 pm Post #12 - November 5th, 2009, 2:38 pm
    chezbrad wrote:Korean Seoulfood Cafe "appears" to be gone: there is a new sign up pronouncing "Cafe [triangle]xe Ole"; a tiny bent piece of paper in the windowsill proclaims "Opening January 2009" but the restaurant seems to be functioning as normal when I walked past a few days ago. A white banner in Korean hangs over the door--maybe it tells the story?

    Here we see the dangers of allowing posts like this without requiring the same sort of documented proof as is required for reports of health code violations. Perhaps the posting guidelines should be modified, because incorrect closure reports may be just as damaging. I'm sure chezbrad meant well, and the signage on the awning is indeed confusing, but Korean Seoulfood Cafe is most definitely not closed. And that's a very good thing, if my first-ever visit today was any indication.

    Seol Lung Tang was a remarkably delicious and curative soup on a day that I wasn't feeling my best. Beef bones had slow-simmered for what must have been days, melting into the liquid to form a milky white broth with intense cow flavor and pleasant minerality. Green onions and thin slices of appropriately chewy beef were great additions. I see myself returning to Korean Seoulfood Cafe for this soup many times throughout the winter.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #13 - November 6th, 2009, 6:31 am
    Post #13 - November 6th, 2009, 6:31 am Post #13 - November 6th, 2009, 6:31 am
    Photos from one of the best loop-area lunches I've had...

    Panchan (free with all lunch specials):
    Image
    These were all good and made in house, with the kimchee being a real standout. Fresh tasting, crunchy and not overly hot, with just enough funky fish sauce to let you know this hasn't been over-gringocized. The owner told me that he's "got some old lady in the back" who does nothing but make kimchee every week.


    Seol Lung Tang:
    Image

    Image
    This soup arrived in a scorching hot pot (stone or metal, can't remember), and continued bubbling furiously for a full minute. When it settled enough for me to take a spoonful, I started the leisurely, most enjoyable process of eating it. It took me nearly 45 minutes to finish the whole bowl, which was filled with beefy, minerally broth with melted cartilage and bone, as well as some clear noodles, scallions and thin slices of beef.


    At $7.99, this was one of the best lunch values I've had. Based on other reports, I suspect that the other menu items at Korean Seoulfood may not be as good as the soups, but this dish alone was easily good enough to make the place worth several return visits.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #14 - November 6th, 2009, 12:40 pm
    Post #14 - November 6th, 2009, 12:40 pm Post #14 - November 6th, 2009, 12:40 pm
    Kennyz wrote:Here we see the dangers of allowing posts like this without requiring the same sort of documented proof as is required for reports of health code violations. Perhaps the posting guidelines should be modified, because incorrect closure reports may be just as damaging.


    Here we see the dangers of ad hominem attacks. Read my post: I clearly qualified my comments and described what I observed walking by the restaurant.

    Good to see it's still opening and doing well--even if I damaged it.
  • Post #15 - November 6th, 2009, 12:42 pm
    Post #15 - November 6th, 2009, 12:42 pm Post #15 - November 6th, 2009, 12:42 pm
    chezbrad wrote:
    Kennyz wrote:Here we see the dangers of allowing posts like this without requiring the same sort of documented proof as is required for reports of health code violations. Perhaps the posting guidelines should be modified, because incorrect closure reports may be just as damaging.


    Here we see the dangers of ad hominem attacks. Read my post: I clearly qualified my comments and described what I observed walking by the restaurant.

    Good to see it's still opening and doing well--even if I damaged it.

    Sorry you took it as an attack on you as a person. Not my intent at all. I'm glad they're open too.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #16 - January 11th, 2011, 11:55 am
    Post #16 - January 11th, 2011, 11:55 am Post #16 - January 11th, 2011, 11:55 am
    Feeling uninspired about dinner options before last night's Bulls game, Kennyz recommended that I check out Korean Seoulfood Cafe and I'm glad that I did.

    I decided to go with the Boo Dae Ji Gae, described on the menu as:"Ham, sausages, bacon, and assorted fresh veggies in seasoned spicy broth."

    Delivered to the table literally boiling hot this was a great bowl of soup. The "ham, sausage, and bacon" were all sort of loose interpretations. The ham was sort of spam like, the sausage was sort of loosely packed clumps of meat, and the bacon looked a lot like hot dogs (maybe these were supposed to be the ham). No matter though. The meat products were accompanied by some veggies and tofu in a nicely spicy broth. The soup, along with a bowl of rice and some standard panchan, made for a great dinner on a cold Monday night.

    The place was empty, but I definitely plan on returning to check out more of the menu.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #17 - January 11th, 2011, 1:35 pm
    Post #17 - January 11th, 2011, 1:35 pm Post #17 - January 11th, 2011, 1:35 pm
    BooDae Jjigae is also known as army stew. It was influenced by the American army presence during and after the Korean war. Koreans used American army meat rations in their stew. Spam and vienna sausages were used in the stew and that's probably what you got in the stew, jesteinf. My father still puts chunks of Spam in his Kimchi jjigae and growing up, we put Spam in Korean sushi rolls, aka kimbap. It's kind of a comfort food thing for us
  • Post #18 - January 11th, 2011, 1:39 pm
    Post #18 - January 11th, 2011, 1:39 pm Post #18 - January 11th, 2011, 1:39 pm
    Sharona wrote:BooDae Jjigae is also known as army stew. It was influenced by the American army presence during and after the Korean war. Koreans used American army meat rations in their stew. Spam and vienna sausages were used in the stew and that's probably what you got in the stew, jesteinf. My father still puts chunks of Spam in his Kimchi jjigae and growing up, we put Spam in Korean sushi rolls, aka kimbap. It's kind of a comfort food thing for us


    very cool history lesson - thanks!
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #19 - January 11th, 2011, 2:03 pm
    Post #19 - January 11th, 2011, 2:03 pm Post #19 - January 11th, 2011, 2:03 pm
    Sharona wrote:BooDae Jjigae is also known as army stew. It was influenced by the American army presence during and after the Korean war. Koreans used American army meat rations in their stew. Spam and vienna sausages were used in the stew and that's probably what you got in the stew, jesteinf. My father still puts chunks of Spam in his Kimchi jjigae and growing up, we put Spam in Korean sushi rolls, aka kimbap. It's kind of a comfort food thing for us


    Very interesting. It did strike me as excellent comfort food.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #20 - April 27th, 2011, 12:36 pm
    Post #20 - April 27th, 2011, 12:36 pm Post #20 - April 27th, 2011, 12:36 pm
    Korean Seoul Food is right around the corner from my new (though temporary) office, and has become my go-to spot for lunch. Especially with the recent cold, wet, dreary weather, a bubbling bowl of kimchi jjigae is just about perfect.

    Banchan are solid, though the selection is limited and doesn't seem to ever change.

    I tried their buffet one day, which was a fine assortment, but most of the dishes skewed a bit sweet for my taste.

    I plan on testing out more of the menu (though I may skip the Boo Dae Ji Gae that Josh tried), but so far I've been content to just order the kimchi stew each visit.

    -Dan
  • Post #21 - June 9th, 2011, 1:45 pm
    Post #21 - June 9th, 2011, 1:45 pm Post #21 - June 9th, 2011, 1:45 pm
    About a week ago, it became much harder to grab a bowl of kimchi jigae in the West Loop.

    Korean Seoul Food Cafe is no more.

    --Rich
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #22 - June 10th, 2011, 8:34 pm
    Post #22 - June 10th, 2011, 8:34 pm Post #22 - June 10th, 2011, 8:34 pm
    RAB wrote:About a week ago, it became much harder to grab a bowl of kimchi jigae in the West Loop.

    Korean Seoul Food Cafe is no more.

    --Rich

    Major dislike. That was one of my favorite go-to places when working in the vicinity of Union Station.

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