Monday, September 22, 2014

Bar Bites at Morton's

Morton's is one of the more reputable steak houses in Chicago.  From Sunday through Thursday, they offer a limited selection of bar bites at the bar for $7 and $8.  Over the years, I've seen certain fabulous bar bite options get smaller or entirely removed from the menu.  Perhaps it was the Landry's take-over that presented the most drastic menu changes.  At my most recent visit, Stan and I ordered the tuna tacos, which were essentially tiny folded potato chips filled with some sushi-grade tuna, and the filet mignon trio, which were similar to the size of a medium scallops.  These two bites didn't satisfy our munchies, so we ordered the four petite filet mignon sandwiches, which we should have ordered from the start.  These steak sliders have remained a mainstay on the bar bites menu and is the best deal and most filling offering.
Morton's The Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New Korean Taco Joint

Tonight, my buddy and I checked out the new Korean taco joint Takos Koreanos, which just opened up five weeks ago!  I expected it to be like the other Korean taco joints in the city with the pay-first and self-busing model, but it's actually a full service restaurant.  We ordered the kimchi fries, which, with its shoestring fries, set it apart from the kimchi fries of bopNgrill and Taco Chino.  We also ordered a taco plate including kalbi, kalbi barba"Korea" and honey chili tilapia tacos.  I'm not a huge fan of corn tortilla tacos, but I actually enjoyed the kalbi barba"Korea".  The owner personally recommended The 2 Little Pigs Quesadillas, which contains samgyupsahl -- plenty of pork.
This is Phil Yoon's third restaurant and he did a LOT of research studying the various demographics in different areas, along with the preferences of his territory's clientele.  Since this joint caters mostly to non-Koreans in the Andersonville area, he had to water down the spicyness in some of the side items, such as kimchi fried rice.  The location is a bit of a hike up north, but is nevertheless a great addition to the city's Korean-influenced eateries!
Takos Koreanos on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 29, 2014

Jin Ju Pearl in Andersonville

Dining at Jin Ju wasn't at the top of my list since, frankly, I didn't think it would taste any good.  Jin Ju, which means "pearl" in Korean, is a modern contemporary Korean restaurant in Andersonville catered towards non-Korean clientele. I remember walking by the restaurant last year and being dumbfounded by the inflated prices of simple, traditional dishes such as bibimbop.  Last night, my buddy Joe and I braced ourselves and made it out to Jin Ju.  We were the only Koreans, and were expecting some pretty bad versions of dishes that we grew up with.  Joe made the sharp observation that the entire menu was in English, without any Korean characters by any of the dishes.  Upon further inspection of the menu, I noticed that apart from "kim chee," there was an absence of romanized Korean ingredient terms. Instead, "spicy red pepper paste sauce" replaced gochujang, and "soy bean paste" replaced duenjang.
I ordered an Asian pear sojutini, which tasted very much like a mojito.  We shared their versions of dak bulgogi (very white chicken breast marinated in "spicy red pepper sauce"), sam gyup sal (pork belly which they sauteed with brussels sprouts), and kimbop tegim (tempura-battered rolls).  Apart from the banchan, which were meager and unimpressive, the dishes we ordered were pretty good.  I wouldn't say that what we ate was Korean cuisine, but rather Korean-influenced fare.
Jin Ju on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dancen in Lincoln Square

Last year I interviewed Matt Rodbard after he announced his book deal Koreatown, USAwhich will include recipes, interviews with Korean-American chefs, and accounts of his visits to Koreatown restaurants across the nation.  He came to Chi-town to check out our Korean food scene and gave me a shout-out to join him and his crew.  I would say that this was the most exciting thing to happen as a result of my Chicago Agashi venture.  He introduced me to David Tamarkin, former Food Editor of Time Out Chicago; Sam Horine, the photographer for Koreatown, USA; and a couple of his local buddies.  I was pretty star-struck and honored to be included.
We started the night at Dancen, just north of Lincoln Square.  No, this is not a place to bust a move; it's a Korean robatayaki dive bar.  Matt was telling me that New York has banned indoor charcoal grilling, so we Chicagoans need to realize what we have here.  Along with a couple rounds of soju and Korean beer, we ordered fried pig skins, which I had never eaten before.  It was a bit tough to chew, similar to noshing on cartilage.  Of course we had to get their famous fire chicken, which lived up to its online reviews, as being spicy chicken awesomeness.  Since Matt loves jwipo, we ordered a plate of that, which included Fritos and peanuts!  I thought it was such a rip-off for the crazy price they charged for it. Although it was incredibly hot and humid outside, we ordered the clam soup, which was a great neutral addition to our other dishes.
Dancen on Urbanspoon