My Guide to Korean Food in Chicago
There’s no debate that there is a severe lack of bustling Korean food spots in Chicago. It’s a little surprising considering the popularity of Korean BBQ in my generation and the growing favor for cultural foods. In my four years here, I’ve been able to try out enough places to give my stamp of approval. Here is what I’ve come up with:
Obviously there’s only one true spot (besides the small kitchen of my apartment), and it’s Cafe Corea. Located on 55th and Lake Park, Cafe Corea is run by what looks like a Korean family, and I can attest that their food tastes authentic. It’s a perfect spot for food on chilly days. I’d recommend the suntofu jjigae, which is a spicy stew with tofu and vegetables. While the plates are a little pricey, considering the location and its proximity to campus, it’s worth it.
There are two spots that actually dedicate themselves to Korean cuisine, Daebak and Ahjoomah’s Apron. The former specializes in Korean BBQ while the latter is more dedicated to a general collection of Korean dishes. I personally prefer Daebak over Ahjoomah’s Apron, just because you can find everything you’re really going to want at the former. Both restaurants cater to a youthful audience, with a comfortable ambiance that welcomes soju consumption and shared plates.
At Daebak, I would recommend getting the beef brisket and the Korean pork belly. Your servers will graciously cook your meat for you so you won’t have to worry about any self-cook tragedies you might run into at Gyu-Kaku. Both are absolute must-haves for a successful Korean BBQ meal.
For Ahjoomah’s Apron, I recommend the Budae Jun-Gol, which is an assorted stew of vegetable, meat, and ramen. If you’re questioning it, just go and try for yourself.
H-Mart. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you’re really living under a rock. While this is the hub for Korean grocery shopping, it also has an incredible food court that you’re missing out on. Containing about 3-4 small restaurants, H-Mart offers basically any Korean dish you’re craving. Food ranges from Korean kimbap, ddeokbokki, suntofu, and ramen. The place itself is a little small, but you’ll definitely enjoy the authenticity of the food.
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