Tag Archives: North Korea

Korean Comfort Food at Cho Sun Ok in Chicago

koreaWe recently spent an unseasonably cold day warming up with some Korean home cooking at Cho Sun Ok (4200 N Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL) with some friends who are real Korean food aficionados (unlike us!). Usually, when we are at a Korean restaurant we like to indulge in BBQ, but this time around, we were going for something different. Cho Sun Ok, a small corner BYOB restaurant, has been around since 1980 (and was voted favorite Korean restaurant in 2015 by the Chicago Reader) and is known for its stone pot cooking, done right at the table. They are also known for their unusual buckwheat noodles, naengmyeon, chilled noodles in cold broth, traditionally known as a Northern Korean dish.SeafoodPancakeOne of our favorite parts of many Korean restaurants is that your meal comes with a vast assortment of small plates to share aka panchan/banchan. Cho Sun Ok’s banchan offerings included spicy rice cakes-ddukkbokki, picked daikon, seaweed salad, pickled cucumber, kimchi, potato salad, bean sprouts, and tofu, among others. Just when you think you have banchan figured out, we always encounter a new one! I think one of our future post will be a guide to banchan (for our own sake).JapchaeFor mains, we ordered a seafood pancake – Haemul Pajeon, sweet potato noodles stir fried with beef and veggies – Japchae, mixed fried rice and veggies in a stone bowl – Bi bim bop, and of course also we had to try some naengmyeon for a taste of North Korean cookeryWe went with the bi bim naengmyeon variety, buckwheat noodles in a hot and spicy sauce, a perfect warm-up for the chill. The japchae was full of beef and mushrooms, and had a great, delicate sesame flavor. The shrimp and squid-stuffed seafood pancake and the mildly-spicy bi bim bap topped with an egg were also delicious and faithful renditions of Korean classics. We had a hard time picking a favorite (L liked the japchae and M the naengmyeon), but everything was delicious and we snacked happily on the banchan between our courses.

CSOCho Sun Ok delivered an an amazing amount of the food for the price. We had heard in advance that the service could be brusque, but we had no issues, and as an added plus, the ventilation at the restaurant is pretty good, unlike some other BBQ places we’ve visited. Overall, we like their selection of unusual and traditional dishes in addition to the classic Korean BBQ selection. Moreover, they have one of our favorite versions of japchae in the city. Definitely give Cho Sun Ok a try for some Korean home cooking, or if you want the chance to try a classic North Korean dish.

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Eating…North Korea?

In honor of April fools day here’s something from our “strange but true” file. So as everyone knows North Korea is a totalitarian regime that is nearly closed to outsiders. So how can it be that there are North Korean restaurants dotted across Asia? It turns out these restaurants are in fact run by the government itself and used as a tool for North Korea to acquire foreign currencies. Seriously. Not a joke. The restaurants are called Pyongyang, after the North Korean capital city.

Pyongyang restaurant in Siem Reap by lecercle

Pyongyangs are staffed by North Korean waitresses and feature a variety of Korean foods, including some basics like bibimbop and kim chee and also some unique/bizarre North Korean dishes like noodles served in a block of ice. There is no overt propaganda, but there is also a song-and-dance-laden dinner show that accompanies some meals. When we are in SE Asia this June we just might have to go! There are locations in Siem Riep, Cambodia and in Kuala Lumpur.

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