Chicago: Cho Sun Ok

I asked my super reliable recommender to introduce me to Korean food, because I’ve never really had any (by choice), and I decided that it was high time to lose the prejudice.

She instantly recommended Cho Sun Ok, a hole-in-the-wall in Lincoln Square. In particular, she recommended a pork belly platter for two, which is served with a grill, I think, and you cook it yourself. Unfortunately, I went to Cho Sun Ok immediately after eating a heavy breakfast at Fox & Obel, so I knew there was no way I could handle a big lunch. It was a shame, because it seemed really good (pork belly!) and a house specialty to boot.

So then we had a really tough time figuring out what to order. I wanted something light, but I don’t do well with spicy, so a lot of the menu was out for me. We ended up getting mul naeng myeon (cold buckwheat noodles in soup) and bibim bap (rice with beef and sides). They were good, but I was just not hungry enough to appreciate them. Also, my stomach thinks cold noodle soup is weird (as much as my brain likes the idea, my stomach is just too Chinese). And, a spicy sauce is a key part of bibim bap, so the dish is a lot less tasty if you don’t use it, which I didn’t because I’m a spice wimp.

I’ve decided that I really need to work on my spice tolerance. I’m a big baby when it comes to spicy food, and while I don’t believe in developing tolerance for the sake of being macho, I love Indian and Thai food. For these old favourites and potential new ones (i.e., Korean), I should really get better. Plus, what about all the spicy Chinese cuisine? I’m failing in my ethnic identity, here.

Cho Sun Ok was the last meal I had in Chicago; right afterwards I picked up my stuff and headed to the airport. I think all my planning paid off; I don’t think I wasted any meals. Every time I ate, I was somewhere I really wanted to be. But of course, there are always more restaurants than you would possibly try, even if you live in the city. Time to start planning for my next visit. 😉

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