La Femme Mange Chicago: Quelques Bonnes Adresses

A impossibly nice day at the UofC

Our stopover in Chicago was short but productive. Not only did we get to hang out with most of our friends, in particular our awesome hosts, but we also got to visit our alma mater and downtown Chicago amidst delicious Indian summer heat. Truth to be told, I wasn’t overtly concerned about what we were going to eat, and deferred our dining decisions to our hosts. Nevertheless, we did very well under the guidance of TPS and J.

This was only 1/3 of the ban chan

Our hosts whisked us from the airport straight to an old haunt, San Soo Gab San, for Korean barbeque. The restaurant was as smoky as ever, and the crowd just as raucous as 10 years ago. The only hint of progress: an electronic beeper issued to waiting patrons. The ladies who once peppered simple English phrases such as “beer? kalbi? you want rice?”, Korean and hand signals now speak full English sentences, though their swift serving style remains the same. The copious ban chan spread that covers every inch of our table was a balm to sore eyes (Korean restaurants in Paris are too stingy in this respect).

glorious meat

And despite overdoing the ordering, we polished off huge plates of bacon and steak that that J grilled over the coals.

Dim sum

The next day, we met a huge group for dim sum in Chinatown. We did not revisit the old addresses, opting to meet in a private room at MingHin, TPS’s current Chinatown rave. The bustling 2-storey restaurant closely resembles certain Singapore chains such as Crystal Jade and Imperial Treasures: modern decor, friendly and efficient service, a comprehensive list of excellent and inexpensive dim sum. We, starved of quality Chinese food in Paris, made a significant dent at the dim sum menu with the help of our friends, ordering 31 plates between the 11 of us.

At DMK Burger Bar

At DMK Burger Bar, we indulged in everything fried: the thin onion strings; the unlikely couple of okra and pickles, both steaming hot after an oil bath; and both regular and sweet potato fries. Enough fried foods to induce a sore throat. Oh yes, we tried to balance the fried diet with a hefty walnut-studded salad. And had burgers too. Lauded as one of the best new burger joints in Chicago, the grass-fed beef patties in freshly baked focaccia buns, though not pretty, were juicy and flavorful.

Tacos at Big Star

Given how inaccessible Hyde Park was to the rest of the Chicago, we never got to discover the cooler parts of town during our school years, including Wicker Park. But now that all our friends own cars, we convened at Big Star, a casual taqueria and bar owned by Paul Kahan of Blackbird and avec. It’s a convivial place, the terrace packed with a youngish crowd, cool October chill be damned. In fact, we barely noticed the low temperatures once we were packed in like tuna in a can, reaching over each other for the yummy guacamole, the bubbly queso fundido, the still-simmering frijoles. The piquant spices helped ward off the cold too, each taco spicy and acidic with the exception of the fried fish taco that was a little too tame for our tastes. We ended with a night-cap at the Violet Hour, where TPS the self-proclaimed hedonist waxed lyrical over the expertly made cocktails. I’m not big on cocktails, but if every night ended with delicious drinks and friendly conversations in luxe and lush surroundings, I’m game.

at the Medici

Last but not least, we took a walk down memory lane with lunch at Medici on 57th, a favorite school-time haunt. Though we now look ancient compared to the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youngsters sitting across our table, the restaurant itself looks remarkably unchanged, down to the graffiti-ed walls and scruffed-up table tops.

Gracie's apple pie

We ordered a Gracie’s apple pie ala-mode for old times sake, and though I would’ve loved to proclaim its supremacy in the pantheon of apple pies, I regret to announce that the dough was somewhat raw and did not taste as good as before, during a date with P or after a major final. Still, the combination of hot apple and cold ice-cream remained pretty potent and memorable.

Merci Chicago for the wonderful memories and the great food!


San Soo Gab San – 5247 North Western Avenue  Chicago, IL 60625

MingHin Cuisine – 2168 South Archer Avenue  Chicago, IL 60616

DMK Burger Bar – 2954 North Sheffield Avenue  Chicago, IL 60657

Big Star – 1531 North Damen Avenue  Chicago, IL 60622

The Violet Hour – 1520 N Damen Ave  Chicago, Illinois 60622

Medici on 57th – 1327 East 57th Street  Chicago, IL 60637

This entry was posted in American, Asian, Beyond Paris, Chicago, Chinese, Cuisine, Eat out, dine in, eating out, Korean, Location, Mexican and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to La Femme Mange Chicago: Quelques Bonnes Adresses

  1. aglassofwine says:

    WAH. Hyde Park does look lovely in those gorgeous colors. Especially since I’m looking at the pictures on a gloomy day when most of the leaves have already fallen.

    One other – big – improvement at San Soo Gab San… they’ve expanded and are now double the size! 🙂

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