Thursday, March 20, 2014

San Soo Gab San

Location: 5247 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60625
San Soo Gab San on Urbanspoon
A Quick Word:
Whenever I ask for Korean BBQ recommendations, everyone seems to gravitate towards San Soo Gab San.  This restaurant is located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago.  From the outside, it appears to be a small restaurant, but you will be pleasantly surprised when you enter.  Dozens of tables with center cut-outs and a smokey smell fills the restaurant.  I had been here prior to this dinner and so had my girlfriend.  We both thought the food was great with tender meat and wonderful, authentic flavors.  Unfortunately, during this experience, we had some tougher meat (making me reconsider and then lower their overall rating).  The restaurant itself though has a great atmosphere and everyone seems to be talking loud aka enjoying themselves.  But, because of the distance from the city (easily 30 minute drive from the Loop) and the tough meat during this dining experience, I decided on a 3-mile rating.

What We Ate:

Kalbi, Deung Shim Gui, Ojing Oh Gui
(Seasoned Short Rib, Rib Eye Steak, Marinated Squid)

As most people know, Korean BBQ is all about sharing.  For our meal, we ordered kalbi, rib eye steaks, and marinated squid.  We also ordered the seafood pancake (not pictured).  Each of the meats came with a bowl of miso and over a dozen different kimchees, seaweed, and other side dishes.  The meat arrives at the table seasoned, but raw.  This is where the fun begins.  Hot coals are added to the center metal bowl and topped with a grill.  Just place the meat on the grill and cook to desired temperature.  Each meat takes different amounts of time with the squid finishing in less than a minute.  I thought all the proteins were tasty.  The kalbi had that traditional salty, yet sweet flavor to it.  The steak had a classic grill flavor and the squid a nice spiciness prevailed.  Unfortunately, I think the overall disappointment was the toughness of the kalbi.  No one expected it to be tough, especially since everyone has eaten here before.  It was strange.  The rib eye steak was delicious and tender... we actually ended up ordering a second portion.  All of the kimchees and side dishes were similar to most places, but were just average at best.  Nothing stood out as memorable and nothing differentiated it from the other Korean BBQ places.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- All about SHARING.  The portions are large and it is more enjoyable to try all of their offerings.
- Great Korean beer.  It reminds me of an amber ale with a little more sweetness to it.

- Don't rely on their parking lot.  They have maybe half a dozen spots in a very small and tight parking lot.  Only the first few tables get a spot.  However, there is plenty of free parking along the streets.

How far would I walk for this food?

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