Soul and then more Seoul: Collard greens & kalbi

May 14, 2010


Fried chicken plate from Dee's Place (photo by Steve Dolinsky)

You'd be forgiven for thinking you've got the wrong address after you read about Dee's Place and then have to actually drive there. The latest Southern/soul food restaurant (one of the only, actually) on the North Side could easily be mistaken for a South Side juke joint. The narrow space on West Division in Wicker Park is an anomaly of sorts. Giant pictures from the 1950s hang on one wall (compliments of the Chicago Blues Museum) and old ads for music acts at the Regal Theater hang haphazardly on another. The vibe is part-Harlem Renaissance, part 70s R & B and part Soul Train. The food, however, is straight-forward Southern cooking, with a hint of cajun thrown in for good measure. The latter is evidenced in the generous bowl of red beans and rice, which arrive sporting a special guest: a ham hock the size of my fist. Collards are tender and smoky, thanks to turkey bones mixed into the giant pot during the cooking process, and the fried chicken and catfish are as good as anywhere South of 47th Street. You'll want to check out the video today after 11:30 a.m. if for nothing else than to see yours truly belting out "The Hungry Hound Blues."


Fried chicken plate from Dee's Place (photo by Steve Dolinsky)

Tonight at 10 p.m. I'm satisfying my regular Jones-ing for kalbi at San Soo Gab San. As you may know, once a month I'm doing a feature called "My Country, My Cuisine," where I ask a local to take me to a restaurant that reminds them of home (or in the case of tonight's episode, their mom's home-cooking). My host tonight is Beverly Kim, former Exec. Chef at Opera, who really misses the food her mom used to make her growing up. She loves the kalbi (marinated short ribs, thinly-sliced) that you can grill over blazing-hot charcoals at San Soo Gab San, but more than that, she really loves (as do I) the dazzling panoply of colors and textures that is their panchan (vegetarian side dishes). You're not going to want to miss this story, which will be here after 10:30 p.m. tonight.


Beverly Kim and I go grill-crazy at San Soo Gab San