Monday, October 25, 2010

Chicago - 2400 to 3200 Clark Street and Broadway

I love this section of the city. You can find a hundred little restaurants here and every one of them with an ethnic specialty as good as the next. There are hundreds of cheap eats just waiting for you to pop in and pig out. Honestly, you can’t cook a meal at home this cheap.
This was my week for Korean Tacos. It all started with 527 CafĂ© at 527 Davis Street in Evanston, which serves up such great Korean food that I ate lunch there two days in a row. My favorite dish was the Korean Taco. It was a Namu-style Korean taco – kim in Korean – using the Nori as the shell with a bit of sushi rice, bulgogi or boneless kalbi (grilled ribs) and kimchi on top.

I also had a really outstanding teriyaki salmon taco. Both I would order again.

All week long I craved them so I left out on Saturday morning in search of the perfect Korean Taco which led me to Del Seoul.

Del Seoul, which has gotten a lot of press lately, is located at 2568 N Clark Street. This Korean restaurant makes superb Kalbi Tacos with Gamja Fries.

I loved the flavor and can’t wait to go back and try the Banh Mi Sandwiches (the waitress professed to loving the BBQ Pork) and the Bibimbop and the Kimchi and Pork Belly Fries. The price was right – I spent $4.25 on lunch and took home a $3 jar of homemade Kimchi.

Earlier in the day, I savored a cup of dark, European Hot Chocolate at Cassava on 3338 N Clark Street. A huge bar of Belgium chocolate is ground and is the base for this tasty drink.

Crisp, located at 2940 North Broadway, is part of Yahoo's Best Chicken in America article. They use a hormone free bird that is always fresh and marinated in a secret combination of spices and herbs, lightly battered and then pressured fried. The sauce of your choice is infused on to your bird and is simply delicious. They have so many appetizing Korean recipes, I’ll be back to try some more. At this point I am feeling slightly overfed.

The real surprise of the day was Molly’s Cupcakes at 2536 North Clark Street. I’ve eaten at a dozen cupcake bakeries this past year but this one did not serve an everyday, good-looking cupcake. Their peanut butter cupcake with Nutella frosting was good but the real treat inside was a melted peanut butter cup. Perhaps the best little cake I’ve had all year and the choices at this bakery are never-ending.

I also found Sultans Market in this neighborhood which my friend Jessica loves. It is a middle eastern cheap eat where you can get a delicious, healthy meal in the $3 range. The restaurant was absolutely packed, mainly with college students.

Below is a recipe for Korean Tacos. It was pretty good for my first time making them. I had my butcher Greg at Fresh Market cut the beef really thin. It cooked up perfectly on my indoor grill.

Bon Appetit!

Korean Tacos

1 pound Carne de Taco Beef

(marinade in white sugar, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil and ginger for a few hours)

2 Nori Sheets per taco

Sushi Rice

Diced Tomatoes


Sesame Seeds

Chipotle Mayo


Recipe for Sushi Rice:

2 cups Japanese short-grained white rice or Calrose short-grain rice – which I used

1/4 cup rice vinegar (no substitutions)

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup sugar or add more to taste

Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil the mixture. You can also microwave the mixture for 30-45 seconds to achieve the same result. Leave sitting off heat until needed. You can make this portion ahead of time.

Take 2 cups of rice and rinse two to three times until the water runs clear or nearly so.

If your rice cooker has a sushi rice setting, use it. Otherwise, remember you need equal parts of rice to water. For example, 2 cups of rice needs 2 cups of water. Keep covered until the rice is done.

Once the rice has finished cooking, take off the lid and let the rice cool down for about 15 minutes.

Once the rice is cooled down, add the vinegar seasoning mix to the rice.

Turn the rice out of the pot and into a nonreactive glass or wooden bowl (tradition dictates a wooden bowl to better absorb the excess liquid). Use a tool like a shamoji, which is a flat Japanese rice paddle.

Use a gentle chopping motion to spread out the grains of rice and ensure the seasoning covers every grain. To speed up the cooling process, some people use a hand-held fan to help in the cooling process, but I didn’t find that necessary.

Once the Sushi Rice is cooled off, you’re ready to grill your bulgogi and assemble your tacos.

Put two sheets of nori on the plate, one on top of the other.

Add up to a few tablespoons of sushi rice on top of the nori.

Pile a couple of tablespoons of bulgogi and garnish with diced tomatoes, Cilantro Sesame Seeds and Chipotle Mayo

Chipotle Mayonnaise:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 chipotles in adobo sauce

1 tablespoon adobo sauce

1/2 lime, juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

This is a recipe for homemade Kimchi. I like this for topping sandwiches and even grilled meat. You can also use it to top your Korean Tacos.


1 large Chinese or Napa Cabbage

1 gallon of water

½ Cup coarse sale

1 head garlic, peeled and minced

¼ Cup Fish Sauce (Squid)

1/3 Cup Chili Paste

1 bunch green onions cut into 1 inch lengths

1 daikon radish, peeled and grated

1 tsp sugar

Slice the cabbage in half and the slice lengthwise. Cut away the stems.

Dissolve salt in water in a large container and submerge the cabbage under water.Let it stand for at least 2 hours.

Mix all the other ingredients in a large bowl.

Drain cabbage, rinse it fully and squeeze it out until it is dry.

Mix all the ingredients together.

Put in a large jar and cover it tightly. Let stand for a day at room temperature.

If it is bubbling, it should be refrigerated. If not, let it stand another day or two until it is. Once fermenting, store it in the refrigerator. Add sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds before serving. Eat within 2-3 weeks.