One of life’s most satisfying pleasures is watching plate after plate of banchan fill up the table. However, Chicago’s Korean lineup offers much more than just barbecue, as fusion spots and fancy restaurants add some extra flair to traditional dishes. From bibimbap and kimchi pancakes to hearty bowls of stew, there’s much to explore on the following menus.Read More
Where to Find Korean Food in Chicago
Soups, grilled meats, and plenty of banchan are to be enjoyed
A prime spot for Korean barbecue, Gogi separates itself from the pack by focusing on quality meats and service. The staff will cook items like galbi, bulgogi, and samgyeopsal on the tabletop charcoal grills so diners won’t have to worry about it. It’s a great introduction to the dining experience for first-timers.
San Soo Gab San
This late-night Korean restaurant is a perfect place to pad the stomach after some drinking. Regardless of the hour, San Soo Gab San satisfies with excellent banchan, kimchi-jjigae, seafood pancakes, and grilled meats. They recently remodeled for better ventilation after city ordered them to close. They are a rare Korean barbecue that uses charcoal. A second location is in suburban Morton Grove.
A favorite for after-hours Korean bar food, Dancen is best known for its fire chicken. The spicy dish is a must-try for first-timers and should be ordered with a layer of melted cheese on top. The space is small, which makes the tall flames from the open grill seem ever-looming, but the succulent skewers of meats and solid drinks make it worth the wait.
Those in the know head to this unassuming Lincoln Square spot for a Seoul specialty — ox bone soup. The comforting milky white broth, called seolleongtang, is teeming with noodles and choice of cow parts such as brisket, flank steak, tripe, tendon, and tongue. The dish can also be seasoned with salt, chopped green onions, and chili paste, and is served alongside rice and kimchi.
Feeling under the weather? A bowl of Ssyal’s samgye-tang, or ginseng chicken soup, should do the trick. An entire Cornish hen is stuffed with glutinous rice, jujubes, garlic, and ginseng root and then simmered to produce the nourishing broth. It’s served with sweet brown rice and mixed greens.
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Cho Sun Ok
If there’s no line out the door at Cho Sun Ok, diners should consider themselves lucky. Offering Korean barbecue and a long list of traditional soups and noodles, this no-frills Lincoln Square restaurant is a Korean staple. It’s also BYOB, so feel free to pair the food with whatever whets the appetite.
Chefs Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim have made Parachute one of the most intriguing restaurants in America, creating a destination in Avondale. After the pandemic, they renovated with a new menu, focusing more on traditional Korean flavors and techniques. It’s a more focused menu with cured fish, aged bugolgi, and ssam with pork belly and pork collar. There’s also an expanded wine selection and plenty of Korean-produced sool.
Joong Boo Market
Joong Boo is a great place to stock the pantry with foodstuffs like miso, specialty noodles, and soy sauces. Tucked away in the back is a noteworthy restaurant, dubbed Snack Corner, with a few tables and plenty of delights to enjoy. Pick from dishes such as bibimbap, sundubu-jjigae, and tteokguk (rice cake soup) before taking care of a little grocery shopping.
For the ultimate sauced chicken wings, Crisp is king. Three sauces — barbecue, a housemade marinade called Seoul Sassy, and Buffalo — are available, or diners can opt to keep them plain. The Seoul Sassy is the crowd favorite, made with soy, garlic, and ginger and tossed with crunchy scallions. The jumbo-sized wings boast a shatteringly crispy exterior, and diners would do well to make it a double order. Online orders can be placed here.
This fusion spot serves exciting West-Coast-style Korean tacos stuffed with kalbi, sesame chili shrimp, and more. It’s a great spot for a quick meal, and the menu includes other items like Korean barbecue bento boxes, banh mi with bulgogi, and kimchi fries. The wings are also formidable. Online ordering is available here.
Named for a turtle serpent deity, Bixi Beer is Chicago’s only Asian-inspired brewpub using ingredients like Sichuan peppercorns in its brews. The food is a cross-section of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. Chef Bo Fowler is Korean and her rotating menu features the best ingredients she can source. Dishes include cheesy rose rice cakes, a spicy fried chicken sandwich, beef bulgogi poutine, and more. The Korean fried chicken special on Wednesdays is worth seeking out.
The menu is short but sweet at this Korean-fusion spot. Customers can get bowls of bibimbap, mandu dumplings, japchae, and tacos served on Indian-style paratha. A sister restaurant, En Hakkore 2.0 in Wicker Park, offers items like kimchi, sushi bowls, and bulgogi fries
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The ever-popular Asian-fusion restaurant has been huge hit with Chicagoans since debuting back in 2013. Chef Edward Kim delivers Korean-inspired creations, such as cabbage stuffed with kimchi and pork shoulder; mentaiko kimchi udon; and “Everything Wings” glazed with soy, jaggery, and dried chilies. The burger also ranks among the city’s finest and features two chuck patties topped with American cheese, sweet potato straws, hoisin aioli, pickled jalapenos, dill pickles, and miso butter onions. Pickup and delivery orders can be placed on Mott Street’s website.
Kimchi Pop by Chef Son
Stews and soups are some of the homestyle dishes available at Kimchi Pop, which has two locations (the original in West Town and a second in Uptown). This is a small spot for a weekday meal (or a hangover lunch to go on the weekend). Often they’ll have Army Stew (Budae Jigae) on special. Crammed with sausage, Spam, and other items found on military bases during the Korean War, it’s one of the tastiest things on the menu. They have recently replaced it with a kimchi version.
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Eater Chicago’s 2019 Chef of the Year Dave Park and partner Jennifer Tran elevated Korean cuisine to new heights with the opening of their contemporary restaurant in West Town. The couple showcase Korean ingredients and flavors through intricate and refined plates. Park constructs beautiful dishes like salmon tartare dressed with creme fraiche and crispy rice pearls; and seared scallop with beurre blanc sauce, spinach, trout roe, and chives.
Grilled meats may seem like the main attraction at this Korean American restaurant but the rest of the menu also deserves to be explored. In addition to barbecue items like marinated galbi, short rib, and pork belly, there are terrific versions of fire chicken, kimchi pancakes, hot stone bibimbap, and other classics. A Korean fried chicken spin-off, Sir Chicken, operates out of Perilla’s kitchen as well. It features double-fried pieces of poultry that are coated in a sweet and spicy sauce and finished off with sesame seeds, toasted seaweed, and dehydrated scallions. Note: Perilla is closed through April for renovations.
Soju BBQ has always emphasized proteins sourced from Creekstone Farms (which also means they’re halal). Find huge marinated chops and more inside the comfy sit-down restaurant near the United Center. There are also quality wings and more.
SGD Tofu & Korean BBQ
Housed in the food court of H Mart, this small national chain focuses on the bubbling hot tofu stew known as sundubu-jjigae. The dish features a spicy broth loaded with soft tofu, veggies, noodles (optional), and choice of protein. Other menu items include dolsot bibimbap, fried dumplings, beef short ribs, and bulgogi. Additional SGD Dobu outposts are located in suburban Schaumburg, Glenview, and Oakbrook Terrace.
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One of the few Korean restaurants in Chinatown offers all of the essential soups, noodles, grilled meats, and traditional dishes that one would expect. Whether it’s kimbap or jajangmyeon, both novices and vets will find something to enjoy. Online ordering is available here.
Kimski reopened in April 2023 with a new menu featuring a ssam plate with Texas-style smoked brisket, a cheesy bulgogi sandwich, and cured salmon. Chef Won Kim is one of the more interesting characters in Chicago’s culinary scene, and the restaurant attached to Maria’s Community Bar is worth a visit. It’s also near Sox Park and Chinatown.