I ride my bike to the windy city's hidden gems, lost goldmines, new kids on the block, and old standbys then tell you what to think and what to order. Check, czech, Česká it out...

Friday, June 3, 2011

We're Just Ordinary People: Part 4, Ridin' Seoul-oh

If we've learned anything from the far flung chaos that is the Los Angeles food scene it's that when Korean's doctor up another culture's food with their unique blend of spicy sauces, grilled meats and fermented vegetables the results are usually good. With this in mind I present Del Seoul, a Lincoln Park brick and mortar interpretation of what so many west coast food truck fans have fallen in love with.

Del Seoul's (DS) calling card is the Korean taco but it centers around more traditional "Seoul food" stuff like bulgogi, galbi and spicy barbecue pork along with a few bánh mì and a couple specialty items like dumplings and kimchi fries (say what?! keep reading).

The Kor-tacos
Kalbi, left. Pork, right. Can't tell the difference?
1. Kalbi: This beef short rib taco sported a zesty cilantro-onion relish and toasted sesame slaw. The earthy beef flavor was amplified by the spicy sauce and showed a nice harmony of seasoning. My favorite pup of the litter.
2. Spicy BBQ Pork: For some reason DS forgot to include the word "sweet" in this taco's description. Sugar, not spice, won the race to my taste buds and didn't let go until I was done with the meal. To call this a single note taco would be untrue but I the candied meatiness of the damn thing made it tough for me to pick up on any other flavors.

Shrimp, left. Fish, right.
3. Sambal Fish: The sambal sauce leaves a lingering heat in your mouth after eating this lightly battered fish taco. The pickled red onions added a nice vinegary contrast to the rest of the tastes and, call me crazy, but I think they use the same slaw on every taco and are just calling it different names (gasp!). Nevertheless, this surprisingly light taco was a joy to behold.
4. Sesame Shrimp: What I liked about this taco was that the shrimp wasn't masked by the sesame-chili aioli. What I disliked about it was its smug attitude and poor sportsmanship (just seeing if you're paying attention). Overall, a good summer taco.

The Other Guys
Spicy BBQ Pork Bahn Mi: Much like its sister taco, the spicy BBQ pork bahn mi is marked by a resounding sweetness only this time there's some sliced jalapeño thrown in to bring some spice to the party. The sandwich showed great texture with the contrast between the springy baguette, crisp vegetation, and tender pork. Bahn mi should be to summer what soup is to winter, and this sandwich had summer written all over it, I'd order it again.

Street Dumplings: Much like Tracy Morgan's acting career and v-neck  sweaters, my support for all things dumpling is unwavering. Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that I really liked these little dough packets. They showed a nice herbaceousness and perfect tenderness. I have to confess that it tasted like almost every other asian dumpling I've ever ordered. Also, big props for the cool presentation.

Kimchi Fries: These are a meal. An acidic, decadent, slightly spicy meal. They remind me of something I'd order at the Korean baseball games my grandfather took me to as a child (North Korea, that is). Me and kimchi (or Kim, as I call her) haven't always gotten along but you douse anything in enough sour cream and cheese and serve it on french fries and I'll be damned if I can say no to it.

Brass Tacks 
Del Seoul is a fun, festive little joint that's doing a damn good job of bringing some Korean flavah' to an area already packed with ethnic cuisine. I'd love to say they're BYOB because they don't serve alcohol, but the truth I don't know for sure. What I'd really like  to see is a Del Seoul on wheels mixing it up with the small but growing group of food trucks already roaming the Chicago streets.

Del Seoul on Urbanspoon
Del Seoul

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