Kang Nam

June 06 2006 - 5:55 PM

A couple months ago I met Mike from Eatchicago.net at Kang Nam. It’s a Korean BBQ spot in a strip mall off of Kedzie. It’s by the brown line stop and well worth the trip. It was my turn to spread the word and brought a group of 4 for dinner this past Saturday night.

The deal with Kang Nam is that the BBQ is over charcoal. Every time I’ve jumpers for sale tried Korean BBQ it has been over gas. The coals add a distinct flavor to the already distinct marinades bulgogi (Pul-Kogi), kalbi, and others. The nice thing is that the flavors match so well.

I think I’ve admitted in some article that I’m not super crazy about the vinegary base to Korean flavors. That seems like it’s changing slowly. I made my way through most of the panchan this time. The 15 or 20 different sides that magically appear with everything from everyone’s favorite kim-chee (pickled cabbage) to pickled cucumber slices, spinach with sesame sauce, even crab legs. Well I didn’t try the crab legs… I had to save something for next time.

We ordered the fried dumplings which came in addition to the flat scallion pancake, pork bulgogi and a beef kalbi. I got a bottle of shoju which, at 40 proof, was a great way to end a long day, especially when I had a 24oz OB beer to go with it.

Another gem is the “hot pot rice” – what they have conveniently re-named their dolsot bibim-bop, likely the only dish Westerners would know. The stone bowl is sizzling and the flavor is terrific. Keep stirring that pot, otherwise your rice could cross the line from awesome crispy to chewy crispy…

A beef with Korean (sorry- I had to), and what lots of people say, is that it all tastes the same. You can get beef bulgogi at Trader Joe’s and it will taste pretty similar. What jeux gonflables you can’t get at home is the experience. A big part of that is the number of pickled sides. Another part is the searingly hot crucible of coals that they plop down in the middle of the table. If all else fails, there’s always BBQ squid on the menu. Kang Nam does the trick across the board. It’s fairly straightforward where some of the large buffet-style BBQ joints are intimidating. In the middle of a strip mall, in a very non-descript locale, you can enjoy a terrific dinner.

Kan Nam
4849 N. Kedzie