Saturday, November 15, 2014

One Woman Restaurant

Tucked away right by the Morse red line stop is a neighborhood gem that serves inexpensive Korean-influenced fare.  "Susie," a Korean hahlmuhnee (grandma), runs the one-woman show by taking orders, preparing and cooking the food, serving the dishes, accepting payment (cash only), and busing tables.
I finally made it out to this legendary establishment for Saturday brunch and was amazed to witness her execute everything.  All the tables were taken, but there were two seats available at the counter.  I ordered the bulgogi and kimchi omelet with rice, which also came with buttered toast and jelly.  The omelet tasted very much like kimchi jeon (Korean pancake) and had a generous amount of meat.  Stan ordered the yukgaejang, great for a chilly morning.  We waited to see if there would be a moment to ask her some questions about the restaurant's history, but patrons kept trickling in.  Susie doesn't have her own website, but various online media have taken good care of her by spreading the word.

There appears to be a consensus that dining at Noon Hour Grill is similar to eating a meal at grandma's house.  The ice is from cubed trays, the napkins are non-commercial, and toast is served already buttered.  These little domestic (and perhaps loving) touches seem to attract single men and families with small children.  Since she is remarkably managing the entire restaurant by herself, there is a mutual understanding that service may be a bit delayed.  Most dishes run under $8, and I observed most patrons leaving her generous tips. 
Noon Hour Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Loop Lunch Options on Wells

The strip on Wells near the Loop is burgeoning with eateries catering to the most discerning of palates.  The professionals working in this area have more disposable income and are willing to shell out some cash for a hearty lunch.  The yuppies here are sick of the global fast food chains and are searching for a mid-day culinary pick-me-up.  The street's offerings have drastically evolved over the past few years.  A Halsted Street Deli just opened up and right next door to it a place that will offer healthier options such as quinoa bowls is in the works.  

Cafecito opened up a second Chicago location on Wells and whenever I pass by during lunch time, there is quite a line for it.  Today I was craving something filling and greasy (which is unusual for me) and headed over to pick up their cubano, which is considered #1 in Chicago by some sources.  I was anticipating warm toasted grease, but greasy it was not.  Any other day I would have preferred the clean panini, but not today.  However, it was still delicious with its pickles, mustard and pork gooeyness.

Cafecito on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Whoa Wow, It's Boba Bao!

This past July the same people who brought us Forever Yogurt, opened its first Bee & Tea location in Wicker Park.  (More franchise locations are set to open throughout Chicago.)  They specialize in customized bubble tea drinks, smoothies, baos and bowls.  Since it was chilly outside, I ordered a hot black milk tea, lightly sweetened, with honey tapioca boba.  I really liked that I could choose the sweetness level, since most other bubble tea places have overly-sweet pre-concocted mixes.
The baos were available with so many fun and creative fillings.  I am not a big fan of dumplings or the encased version of baos that contain a homogenous mush of unknown ingredients.  I liked that the baos at Bee & Tea were open-faced since I could see the various, colorful ingredients.  I especially liked the small but crucial detail of labels on my individual baos.  Oftentimes when I order a sampling of various bites such as tacos, I wonder which one is which when I am served; I probably don't get the full taste experience because it's almost as though I'm eating blindfolded.  The little stickers on my baos told me precisely what I was eating, which for me, intensified the rich and spicy flavor profile.  The baos I ordered had tasty Chinese, Indian, and Mexican influences, respectively.  I was really curious about their other cool flavors, including veggie kung pao, asian sloppy joe, cold crab salad, pb&j, and even dessert baos s'more and hazelnut banana split!
Bee & Tea on Urbanspoon
I was not compensated for this post.  I was, however, given vouchers to cover the cost of the food and drink I reviewed.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Twisted Farm Food

We headed out for dinner and I asked Stan what he was in the mood for -- greasy or healthy.  What a stupid thing to ask!  We ventured out to the best drunk food place Hash House a Go Go, right on State Parkway off the crazy Division bar strip.  It was his first time there, so I suggested he order their "New York Times Favorite" Sage Fried Chicken & Waffles that comes with an outrageous heaping waffle tower.  Unfortunately, the server was new, so she made a mistake and I didn't realize until re-reading the menu just now, that he actually received Andy's Sage Fried Chicken.  Honest mistake since both dishes feature their prized fried chicken.
I wasn't in the mood for greasy and was pleasantly surprised that they had a few healthier options.  The hash house salad with grilled salmon was perfect for me and I was pretty surprised that it was modestly-priced, considering the neighborhood.  Since Hash House is situated just a bit north from the flashy, place-to-be-seen, ritzy restaurant hub of Viagra Triangle, it was relatively empty, which is not such a bad thing.  
Hash House a Go Go on Urbanspoon