“Can you tell me where I can find kelp?”

If you have been following the Butter&Yolk Facebook page, then you know my need for Korean food has been mighty as of late. Truth to be told, I started thinking about Korean food in France, about halfway through the trip as I had began to have my fill of creams, croissants, and charcuterie. Matt and I are lucky to live in a neighborhood of Chicago (Rogers Park) where legit Korean food is everywhere. In fact, Korean BBQ is what Matt and I had on our first date, and the joy of kalbi and bulgogi has not left our hearts since. If you are from Chicago or live close by, I will provide my recommendations of where to dine at the end of this post. But this Labor Day, as we were fully immersed back into our daily lives, it seemed fitting to celebrate America and our first real home cooked meal since returning by way of Korean food. I have said this before, but typically I am not one for creating my own recipes. However, I do love to cook and what usually keeps my hands moving in the kitchen is this thought, “If I like it, why can’t I make it?”. In the past, I have given chop chae and pajeon a try at home. The Pajeon was outstanding, but how can you mess up pancakes? The chop chae…I don’t know what happened. The noodles stuck together and it was a huge giant mess. And someone out there is now saying, “But, how can you mess up noodles?”.

Within my desire to eat Korean, came a bit of internet research which I momentarily suspended to dip into one of my favorite food blogs: Tom Eats Jen Cooks. Currently residing in Korea, Tom and Jen have crafted a well written and beautifully photographed blog that reflects on their time in London, New York, Hong Kong, and now Seoul. Jen cooks indeed as she is a trained chef and often their posts are about what they are eating, drinking or cooking, where they are living, or the restaurants where they live. Here, Jen talks about makgeolli; a rice wine…which is brewed….like beer…and ferments quickly. It looked interesting enough to seek out. I later read that Chicago will be home to the first state-side makgeolli brewery which only peaked my curiosity more. I needed to find some. And find some I did. B&Y readers…I would like to formally introduce you to HMART.

HMart. Niles, IL.

At our giant-sized grocery store, toooth-pick stabbed cheese and bits of crackers can be sampled by folks in hats and aprons. At HMart, these guys make kimchi.

There is also seafood…

…like squid.

This is the deli. Pans and pans of food that can be doled out, weighed, and priced right there.

My exact sentiments, HMart.

Ride or die.

And alas, we found the mecca of magkeolli (cue angels choir here).

HMart is a store. HMart is a market. In the simplest terms, it is a SUPERmarket. In the-real-life-up-close-version, HMart is nearly a small town. Mainly grocery store, part mall, part food court, HMart is an entire complex. Picture Walmart with several shops outlining its main shopping area and a food court with well prepared sushi, Korean food, and dumplings. It’s crazy big and stuffed to the brim with Asian inspired everything. And their philosophy on grocery shopping is hands down the way I wish every grocery experience could be. Let’s face it. Sometimes we over glamourize grocery shopping. Or maybe I used to. Really, it was when I was single. I used to imagine that I would be listlislly browsing through the aisles, purusing varities of ice creams or chips (sexy, right?) and a casual conversation would suddenly arise between myself and a realistically hot single chip buying, ice cream loving, hand holding man. Kinda like an online dating commercial, but with the essence of Summer’s Eve and the quirkyness of Reality Bites. In any case, grocery shop usually sucks these days and if it could be more like what it says below, I would be more inclined to go.  This is from the HMart website:

Why we do what we do.There’s nothing better than grocery shopping.
You spend time with your family.
Sample a new taste here and there.
Put something in your cart you’d thought you’d never try…
and you find out you love it.
You learn something new about yourself and your
taste buds thank you.
Eventually you walk the aisles and
you grow familiar with a friendly place and it feels like home.We’ve always wanted our H mart stores to
make our customers feel good about shopping
there. We take pride in what our stores look like,
and that also means we are meticulous about everything we offer you.
We never skimp.And as the years go by you remember this… the experience,
the inspiration and all the meals you’ve prepared and enjoyed.
You smile about it… what could be better than that?At H mart, this is what we do and we love it.So we try to keep it fun and always fresh.

I mean, kinda dreamy. Right?

When I got home, I pulled up this website to guide me in my cooking endeavors for the evening: Maangchi. Maangchi is my girl. Like me, she loves to cook. Unlike me, she knows a lot about traditional Korean recipes. Maangchi started creating videos on You Tube channel demonstrating her Korean recipes for people who already like and are interested in Korean food. She has spiffed up her look, now offers classes, and sometimes organizes meet-ups for fans and friends alike. With Matt lending a hand (while tag teaming the laundry I might add) Maangchi guided me through two dishes:

Gaalbijjim. Beef short ribs.

Naengmyun. Cold buckwheat noodles in a spicy red sauce.

Accompanied by makgeolli.

Here are a few more moments of what took place:

Dried anchovies.



Noodle porn.

Mid noodle-coital.

Before we go:

Check out Jen from TomEatsJenCooks and her video promo for a friend and progressive Korean bbq artist: Linus Kim.

And as promised…

BBQ- Woo Chon
5744 California
Chicago, IL.

Take Out- Da Rae Jung
5220 N. Lincoln Ave.
*Owner is the friendliest man you will ever meet. You can dine in as well.

Quick and dirty- Rolls N Bowls
5501 N. Lincoln
*We go here mostly for their ridiculous sushi, but they are Korean owned and offer a few staples on the menu.

Current awesomeness=

Food court at HMart, but truth be told, you could go and just sample everything since everything is being sampled throughout the entire store. Some of these people were mics to advertise what they are dishing out.

Want to try:

Dancen- Bar
Noon Hour Grill

Got any favorites or places we should check out? Do share!

2 thoughts on ““Can you tell me where I can find kelp?”

  1. Pingback: Baked Eggs with Brocolini, Truffle Salt and Herbs | Butter&Yolk

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