May 27, 2005

hae won dae

jackpot! Korean BBQ in Chicago appears to come standard with real charcoal braziers, which take an already fabulous eating experience and push it over the edge into a whole new realm of yum. From what I read, most of the Korean bbq places here use charcoal, and our dinner at Hae Won Dae certainly did.

We got kalbi & spicy pork bulgogi, both excellent, though the pork might have the slight edge for sheer deliciousness. The charcoal gave the meat a strong smoky flavor, mmmmmm. There were 9 dishes of pan chan, including really outstanding cabbage kimchi with a wonderful sour edge, raw marinated crab legs that were new to us and delicious though a bit hard to manage since they're goopy with chili sauce outside and goopy with runny marinated crabflesh inside, spicy cucumber, spicy daikon, nice soft salty seaweed, flat thin slices of slightly-sweet daikon, omelet slices, potato salad, & yellow takuan pickles with extra chili & sesame dressing that were fantastic.

We also ordered some duk bok ki as a starter, which were nice & soft but not as spicy as we expected, given the warning we got from our server. Dinner came with rice & a mini-hotpot of soup that seemed to me to be chigae (tofu, miso, veggies, jalapenos). And we got a new flavor of soju that claimed to be flavored with green tea -- you could have fooled us, not that we didn't knock it back with some vigor nonetheless.

So yeah: soju, charcoal grilled meat, and spicy-ass pickles, in enough quantity to feed a party of four, just for the two of us for our first meal in chicago. It was a good night.

Posted by foodnerd at May 27, 2005 10:04 PM

hi foodnerd! i haven't really explored korean cuisine, which is stupid because there are so many good korean restaurants here. i went to a korean/japanese barbecue place that had imported these special barbecue tables where the brazier is embedded into it; these used wood instead of charcoal, though, i don't know if that's "normal"...? anyway, i've been wanting to try that marinated crab (here it's the whole damned crab, though, not just the legs), you made it sound so delish, i'll just have to try it next.

also, what's duk bok ki?

Posted by: santos. at May 29, 2005 10:00 PM

duk bok ki is rice cakes in spicy sauce. In Boston at Wu Chon House, I think it's the rice cakes in the shape of oval slices, the kind I lovingly refer to as rice pucks. At Hae Won Dae, they were the long cylindrical kind, sort of like chapstick-shaped rice logs. The dish is really just an excuse to eat starch in the tasty sweet-spicy sauce. :-)

Definitely take advantage of the korean restaurants, santos -- you'll never look back. There's just something about the combinations of spicy, sour, sweet, savory & fermented in the various dishes and pickles that tickle all the tastebuds at once. And though many dishes are especially nice in cold weather, keep an eye out for naeng myun, which is a cold noodle soup dish (iced, usually), which would be nice in your climate. It is a cold meat broth, with sweet potato noodles, sliced beef, sliced cucumbers & other vegetables, and hard-cooked egg -- very refreshing and satisfying.

oh, and the charcoal was wood-charcoal, in irregular chunks, so it was probably the same thing you had. Usually in Boston it is gas grills, which get the job done but don't give the extra flavor.

Posted by: foodnerd at May 30, 2005 01:10 AM
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