Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jin Ju, a Korean pearl in Chicago

5203 N. Clark. 773 334 6377

'Jin ju' means a pearl in Korean. We had never tried Korean food or heard of Jin ju when my hair stylist (who is Korean) recommended this place. Located at Clark and Foster in the trendy neighborhood of Andersonville, we were wowed from the start. I have a thing for moody restaurants and clubs/lounges with their low lighting and ambient music, and Jin Ju fulfilled on both counts. Every table was full, and pretty boy waiters completed the place.

We had no idea what to order. The menu was manageable however, with English explanations for all dishes. We started off with plum wine, which was delicious. It helped us to drink in the atmosphere as well. Looking at the starters, barbecued pork or Daeji Galbi sounded great. It was mouthwateringly good!!! It seemed that it had been marinated in the richest of spices for days and smoked for hours. Hot and sweet exploded on the tongue!!

Pleased with such a success, we felt confident to move on to our entree orders. Dak Bulgogi (spicy marinated chicken) for me and Dak Dori Tang (spicy chicken stew with potatoes) for him. Oh my god!!! Perfection on a plate (or a stone bowl in his case!). Let's start with Abhijit's Dak Dori Tang. Chicken stew sounds mild, but this was the spiciest and most wholesome broth we had tasted in a restaurant. Dark red and inviting, the ginger, jalapenos, red pepper, sesame oil and the vegetables would clear blocked nasal passages in a jiffy! I was in love with my dish too. The chicken seemed exquisitely marinated in sugar, soy sauce, garlic, pepper, to name but a few recognizable ingredients. It had a mean kick to it and was utterly divine. Ummmmmm.

Ginger and green tea ice cream were just the things to calm down our excited taste buds. Wow.

We had no idea that Korean food could be so spicy and exciting. The ambience and the quality of food here has delivered every time we have been since (we have been seven times already), and this is undoubtedly our favorite hotspot in Chicago.