Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Best Korean Food Place in Town

Morning Foodies.
Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. I began mine slightly early Friday when I left the office at 1, and went out for lunch at my FAVORITE Korean restaurant in Chicago.
Cho Sun Oak 4200 N Lincoln Ave- Chicago.
My Mom introduced me to this as a child. She has been going to this place for the last thirty years, and it's really easy to see why after you try their food.
First of all, when it comes to any type of ethnic food, it's always a good rule of thumb to visit a restaurant that is filled with people of this ethnicity. They are obviously more experienced than I with Korean food, so if it's good enough for them, it is more than good enough for me.
From this springs just one issue...
The service.
Unfortunately no one in the restaurant speaks English. I mean, no one.
When my family or friends and I go here to eat, we are often the only Caucasian group in the place....and they never fail to give us spoons to use for the following reasons:
A. As Caucasian city dwellers, we obviously don't know how to manage eating with chop sticks. (False- Been able to eat with chopsticks for as long as I can remember.
B. There are no forks. There are no forks because it's mostly Korean families that eat here.
Ironic...don't you think.
You should have heard the fiasco I had trying to order the Jab Chae without sesame seeds.
A friend of mine suffers from diverticulitis, and therefor can consume no seeds, kernels, pretty much anything that can't be digested. So for him to enjoy the Jab Chae, it has to be seedless.
The first time I tried to order it this way, they thought I ordered it without the use of sesame oil.
And it came with a crap-ton of seeds on it. Like...a laughable amount of seeds.
The second time, I used my fingers to make the "small" motion like a seed and that seemed to open the door.
I should have been a mime.
But aside from the communication snafu, the Cho Sun Oak is everything you could want in fantastic food and a cozy intimate atmosphere far from the trendy neighborhoods and bustle of the north side.
When you step into this restaurant, you feel like you have stepped back in time, and into another country. The dining area contains no more than 5 booths and a small hand full of tables, most of which are very large because at Cho Sun Oak, a lot of the Korean clients prefer to cook their own meals on their table top grill. It's impressive as hell to watch, but if I'm going out to eat, I prefer not to have to cook the meal.
Every time I go there, they ask me if I'm going to be doing the cooking. I always feel sheepish telling them "no". I feel like by now I should be able to prepare my favorite Korean dishes, but I'm pretty sure if I were given Bul-Go-Gi meat to marinade and grill, I would end up with a marinated strip steak that tastes no different from any other steak I have made. I just don't know enough about their use of spices and flavors to be able to get it right. And it is Nirvana when it is done right.
And with that, I will leave you with some pictures from the meal. Please forgive the fuzziness of some of them. I felt that if I took my Nikon out and tried getting really great photos, I would have attracted a lot of negative attention. So I pulled a slick one, and used my Flip camera to catch some footage. Happy eating foodies!
Sweetened Brown Potatoes and Carrot ( Part of Kimchi side dishes)
Sliced and lightly pickled radishes ( Part of Kimchi side dishes)The EVIL Kimchi - Fire hot cabbage
Seaweed, White Onions and Carrots another Kimchi Side Dish
Bean Sprouts with Peppers and onions-again...Kimchi
Fish cake type things? It reminds me of Surimi. I'm not sure exactly what they are comprised of, but it's AMAZING!
Gelatinous Soy cubes topped with sesame seeds and seaweed and Potato, Apple, cucumber and tomato under a cream.(Kimchi Side dish- dessert type)
Jab Chae- Clear rice noodles, stir fried veggies and thinly sliced beef (bul-go-gi)

The short video that was taken- All images were clipped from this video.