A little bit of heart and Seoul at Chicago Kalbi

| March 26, 2009 | 3 Comments

By: Jenny Villanueva

Where can you go for a magnificent dinner at an internationally known Korean BBQ restaurant? You are probably thinking of heading on the first flight to Asia. Stop packing – just get in your car and head to Chicago’s Northwest side!

Chicago Kalbi has been in business for almost 20 years and, according to owners Iso and J. Chiyo Tozuka, a high percentage of their regular patrons are businessmen from Asia entertaining clients. In addition, by looking at the autographed memorabilia throughout the restaurant, you will see that other patrons include professional baseball players. I will leave it at that since I don’t want this to become a Cubs-Sox debate.

When you first walk in Chicago Kalbi, you can’t help but notice the scent of burning wood chips and the aroma of sizzling beef and chicken. This Korean BBQ sets itself apart from others with a “Japanese style”, where the quality of the meat presides over quantity.

If you have never been to a Korean BBQ, you are now on your way to a different, but enlightening, dining experience. This cuisine is made for two – so bring your favorite date. You will sit in your booth with a built-in charcoal grill in the middle of the table. Your order will already come marinated and prepared to cook. You and your date will do your own “grilling to perfection” together.

I ordered the Pa-Jun, a delicious assortment of squid, beef, and green onions battered with special crepe. It is then grilled to form a golden brown pancake – a “house favorite” topped with their special rice wine vinegar sauce. I also ordered Kalbi beef “Japanese style”, which is short rib meat with no bones. Both dishes were incredible!

Appetizers consist of spinach and sesame salad, potato salad, marinated radishes, kimchee bean salad, and pickle salad. All will wet your palate.

Don’t forget about their $39 combo menu for two served with a set of side dishes – soybean soup, two kinds of rice, and, for dessert, two green tea ice creams. Your combo choices are as follows:

1. Kalbi, chicken, and shrimp
2. Kalbi, chicken, and bulkogi
3. Bulkogi, chicken, and squid

Other menu choices include a variety of other offerings:

* Jo-Mino – a “marinated mountain of beef”
* Squid – slices in your choice of sauce, spicy or mild
* Hearts – sliced beef hearts in their chef’s sauce
* Pork – sliced pork in a spicy marinade
* Bulkogi – thinly sliced ribeye beef
* Chicken – “free range” chicken, fresh and tender

Chicago Kalbi is also great for groups where everyone can share the delectable delights cooked at the table. There is also a large TV for all the sports fans as the owners are avid baseball followers.

One thing I wish I could change – it would be great if all BBQs were this easy without clean up! I also am not sure if my own BBQ is anywhere close as delicious as Chicago Kalbi, but, if asked, my husband better say it is.

If you have never had a Korean BBQ experience, you need to at least once. When you do, try it at Chicago Kalbi as they set the standard.

3752 W Lawrence Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 604-8183

5pm – midnight
Closed on Tuesdays

This is an original Chicagonista article.

Jenny Villanueva is the Lifestyle & Culture contributing writer for Chicagonista and the owner of TheBata.com (means “The Child” in Tagalog, from the Filipino language). She resides in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and their spoiled beagle named Chuck.

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Category: Art & Leisure, Eats & Sips, See & Plays

About the Author ()

Head Chicagonista, Co-host of the Chicagonista LIVE! show, Lead blogger for TheChicagoMoms.com, and Co-Founder of Women Driving Excellence. MJ is also the annual host of SocialRevUp - Brands & Bloggers Summit (#bbsummit) attended by about 200 professional high-profile bloggers nationwide. Follow MJ on Twitter: @mjtam

Comments (3)

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  1. cindy says:

    My DH and I had our first date at Chicago Kalbi!

  2. Liza Barnett says:

    Korean food indeed are delicious if you don’t mind eating the kimchee and all the sides that come with your order. Korean BBQ beef, or chicken always taste great. You can cook it however you want it. Eating your food wrapped in those leaves is something different. I love Beef Bulgogi with rice and their miso soup as well. Too bad, I am 8.5 hours away from Chicago and I don’t think I would be able to go to Chicago Kalbi sooner than I want. Now, I would have to look for a Korean restaurant to satisfy my craving for authentic Korean food.

  3. Kristen says:

    thanks for the review and recommendation…I can’t wait to try this place!

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