Buzz List for July 17, 2017

Lots of Korean food—K-Pop K-BBQ! Hanbun! Where did Koreatown go, anyway? Plus reviews of The Lunatic etc. and Split Rail, Sun-Times (and Reader) will survive, and Dolinsky takes Da Mayor out for Vietnamese and Mexican food.

The Lunatic, The Lover and the Poet/Facebook
1. NEW OLD CHINATOWN

The action in Chinatown has long been in the newer mall on Archer, but new places have started popping up on Wentworth too, and Mike Sula checks out a new place from each in the Reader this week.

Daebak is a Korean BBQ place in the mall with a K-Pop theme: “It’s difficult to fully focus on mounds of sizzling beef and pork mere inches from your face while the rapper Jimin struts on the screen above your table snarling ‘You a freaking puss puss,’ but Daebak’s environs make an concerted effort to distract.” But he’s mixed on the meats: “a thinly sliced boneless rib eye or ten scraps of boneless short rib top out the menu at $32.99 per order… The thin frozen curls of pork belly and brisket that feature so prominently on Korean barbecue menus are never a solid bet, and that rule applies at Daebak; the amount of shrinkage and mealiness inherent in such cuts simply isn’t worth the price or the effort.”

On Wentworth the hot new thing is Asian ice cream treats, including at least two new places specializing in what’s called “stir-fried ice cream,” but is really more like Cold Stone Creamery’s act of beating mix-ins into your ice cream by hand, crossed with Grant Achatz’s anti-griddle. He visits Legend Tasty House and finds “a treat made for Instagrammers. You can watch them standing in front of the counter agog, their phones up recording the transfixing ballet.”

2. POETASTING

You name yourself an over-the-top name like The Lunatic, The Lover and the Poet, and the review comes back from the Tribune: “More affordable than many on Randolph Row!” Ouch. Phil Vettel’s review—try and guess how many stars “more affordable” gets you; two is correct!—says that it makes a perfectly okay backup choice on this busy strip: “Nowicki does a nice job putting a personal stamp on the ubiquitous beet salad, tossing three varieties and arugula with a horseradish dressing, then topping it all with flaked smoked trout; the dressing serves as a counterpoint to the salty trout and enhances the peppery arugula. Her gnocchi isn’t as feather-light as the best, but, combined with wild mushrooms and marcona almonds, it’s a fine, shareable plate.” (Tribune)

3. IT'S DA RAHM

Steve Dolinsky invites former deli worker Rahm Emanuel to HaiSous and Don Pedro Carnitas to talk about the city’s food scene, and what he likes to eat (“I love spicy peppers, I eat them all day long”). (ABC 7)

4. TEXICAN PIG

Ina Pinkney checks out Tex-Mex breakfast at The Texican (“The rajas quiche has an olive oil crust, which makes it a little more chewy than the flaky variety but holds up well with the eggs, asadero-style Mexican cheese and roasted poblano peppers”), The Purple Pig (“I can’t forget to mention the breakfast sandwich with fried egg, breakfast sausage and foie gras butter, which I can still taste and which I rank at the top of my breakfast sandwich list”) and the new Petit Margeaux in the Waldorf-Astoria. (Tribune)

5. FRIDGE WIDGET

To be honest, there’s nothing that revelatory in Chicago magazine’s piece on what chefs keep in their home fridges (mostly stuff that’s quick and easy; the best shopping tips might be in Beverly Kim’s… just don’t grab the breast milk by mistake). But the interactive graphics are very cool, so check it out.

6. BRACKETBURGERS

Chicagoist is asking people to vote on their favorite burgers! I contributed ideas and blurbs for a bunch of them. Read it, vote, and come back to see who advances to the Final Four! Here’s part one and part two, so far.

7. SPLIT BANANAS

The review of Split Rail, the new restaurant from chef Zoe Schor (Ada Street), just published at Time Out reads like it’s trying to be one of those overwrought Eater National pieces about teenage angst at a fast food joint; comparisons to lowbrow mall food (which I think are meant positively!) are mixed with an entire Cure album’s worth of worry about guilt, shame and dignity over eating fried stuff: “Fajitas, Reimagined, for example, drops the tortilla in favor of generous, pink slabs of skirt steak and dots of creamy masa and tangy roasted red pepper gelee. If you close your eyes and take a bite, the dish matches the flavor profile of a sizzling fajita to a T—minus some of the guilt. The chicken nuggets are accompanied by a house-made honey-mustard sauce that puts anything you can get at McDonald’s to shame. The earth-shattering fry gives way to expertly cooked ground chicken that’s speckled with a house spice blend. Dunking each nugget into the trough of honey mustard requires no fork or dignity, perfect for a Friday night.”

8. KOREA TRIANGLE

Where did the Koreans of Chicago’s Koreatown (Albany Park) go? The answer is not that mysterious (Niles and thereabouts) but the details are pretty interesting as Monica Eng digs into them. (WBEZ)

9. BUN, HAN BUN

If you haven’t made your plans to eat Hanbun’s kitchen table tasting menu, well, you probably never will in its current form—it’s booked up through the end of the restaurant’s lease next year, and who knows after that. But you can still go for its terrific lunch of especially well made Korean classics—Titus Ruscitti tells you why you should make the shlep to Westmont.

10. PARDON ME, DO YOU HAVE ANY...

Architectural Digest is one publication that has never before been linked on Buzz List, but here’s a good reason to: “Six Reasons Why Chicago Is Still America’s Design Darling,” which is to say, six cool fairly new restaurants including Proxi, Oriole and Giant. (H/t Andrew Zimmerman)

11. GOOD NEWS OF NEWS

In last week’s episode Wrapports was ready to kill the Sun-Times (and the Reader) if it couldn’t deliver them to its master Tronc, but the Justice League, er, Department stared them down and the coalition of unions fronted by former Alderman Edwin Eisendrath will now be the Sun-Times’ new owner. (And the Reader’s; they always get overlooked in this story, which is odd when you consider that if this was all about online properties, the lefty arts and culture site would be getting way more attention than the blue collar tabloid.)  Let’s hope for some investment in revitalizing both squeezed staffs and giving some real competition to the Tribune, which turns out in this story to be more of an ailing giant than was realized—the Trib’s single largest revenue stream is, in fact, its printing contract with the Sun-Times, which will end in 2019 in any case (if not sooner). (Sun-Times)

12. CHEFS UNCHAINED

Want to hear big name chefs (Bayless! Grueneberg! More!) spill stories too hot for print? Get tickets now for Michael Muser’s inaugural Muze event, Taste Buds, benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (the same folks who do the Jean Banchet Awards). It’s August 20, it should be hilarious, it’s partly tax deductible. Go here to find out more.

13. A LA CARD, ON THE CHEAP

I’ve been a fan of Natasha Liberman’s A La Card deck for a long time—she always has a nice assortment of the newest and most fun restaurants, and the discount is enough to motivate you but not so much it hurts the restaurant. Now she’s got a second deck coming out—the Cheap Eats Deck, full of pizza and Italian beef and the like, which will be issued in August and be good through the end of 2018. Check it out here.

WHAT MIKE ATE

I wrote lots of good stuff about Daisies last week, so when I finally went for a full meal, I thought, it better be good. Well it is, you will be perfectly happy on its secluded patio eating pasta (loved both the stracci with lamb and the lush tajarin) and dishes with a hint of Joe Frillman’s Bristol experience like tomatoes on PQM bread, enhanced into supertomatoes with a little bone marrow jus. You may also suspect, as I do, that this is only the beginning and it is going to keep getting better and better—but don’t miss summer days on its patio now.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Fooditor and Buzz List will be on summer vacation, next week and the week after. Back in August; in the meantime, watch for a piece on a certain celebrated restaurant in the Reader, next week—I think.

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