Friday, November 21, 2008

Hitting the Local

One of the nice things about living in a dense city like Chicago is that you are likely to have a great local nearby. Maybe it is a pub, maybe it is a diner, if you are extremely lucky- maybe it is a strip of several great places. But whatever it is, it’s in easy walking distance of your home. It serves good, well-prepared simple food at reasonable prices. The staff is friendly and welcoming. The ambiance is warm, comfortable and child friendly. They may not know your names but by your third visit they know your face. Before you know it, you have your “regular” dishes that you know you will order every time you’re there, with intriguing items still on the menu to fill out orders on subsequent visits.

For us, our local is Chicago Kalbi, a Japanese-Korean BBQ restaurant located about ½ a block from our house. Unfortunately, we are not able to go there as often as we’d like to. But when my Dad is in town there is always a good chance we can convince him to take us, like last night! ;)

If you like baseball, you will enjoy looking at the walls that are covered in pictures of all the Japanese baseball stars that have been there. Miss D, with the aid of a plastic holder, was able to eat successfully with chopsticks for the very first time! This is the location of my infamous soju experience, and we often get that. Sometimes Dad will order sake and Husband always gets a large Japanese beer. For the kids, Miss D’s special treat is always a ramune – a very sweet clear soda (it tastes like drinking fizzy corn syrup) with a special top. The top has a glass marble in it that must be pushed into the bottle with an opener. It’s hard to describe but a quick google search will find you a tutorial if you’re really interested. On our “regular order list” we always get the fried chicken drummettes. Looking like crispy little lolly-pops, they arrive blazing hot always crispy, juicy and delicious. We have tried the steamed bacon (previously reported) and last night we had crispy pancake with scallions and squid. Yum! Dad and I usually get miso soup – traditional and warming. The main event, the BBQ, we have down to a science. I usually order the chicken and/or shrimp (although I think I will try squid next time). Husband and Dad like the kalbi and bulkgogi, and dad likes to give the ethnic restos a kick and order something Americans never do, like liver. Take a piece of what have you- stick it in a lettuce leaf with some miso paste and a dab of sticky rice and wrap it up – perfection. My favorite salad is the sesame sprouts, Miss D late a whole dish of marinated spinach and Dad and I both enjoy the spicy kimchis (cucumber, cabbage and daikon). It always feels like we order too much, but we manage to eat it all. This is the kind of meal that leaves you pleasantly sated; definitely full, but not heavy and not like you would have to wheel yourself out or anything.

So what is your local?


Styling with Renee Michelle said...

Our local is not that local - all the restaurants within walking distance of our house are not that great. But there a vegetarian Indian restaurant about 15 minutes away which catered our wedding and I think they are becoming our local, because now we know the menu well enough to decide what we're ordering before we get there.

civil said...

I've always liked the look of that restaurant's canopy. Lisa and i will have to try it out.

stef said...

Oh man- I totally thought you were TR until just now. (civil)

Dad said...

Unfortunately one of the problems of the burbs is not having that type of local - though for breakfast, we do Wecks which has great food and great service.

Lakeview Coffee Joe said...

I really enjoyed my Chicago Kalbi experience! I'm waiting to take someone there soon!!

I do have several locals....and they aren't bars!! Penny's, Starbucks (of course), the Chinese place (which I go to ALL the time and can't think of their name right now...that's sad because they even recognize me when I order on the phone!) and Adesso. Good stuff!

alexis said...

the only local I have isn't mine, as I am surrounded by highend shops. It's the Toasty! resto by the BF's and we go there for 12pm "breakfast" all the time.