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?