GLENVIEW, Ill. - Fast-food franchises rarely have memorable food, but our Hungry Hound said a Korea-based company focusing on noodles, is making some memorable - and affordable - dishes, in a Glenview strip mall.
He says the chain is based around a celebrity chef from Korea you've probably never heard of, but that doesn't matter, because it's all about the handmade noodles.
Baek Jong-Won is to South Korea, what Bobby Flay or Mario Batali might be here. A celebrity chef who's put his name and reputation behind some restaurants. There are a dozen Paik's Noodles in the United States, but only one in Illinois, and it happens to be in Glenview. Unlike most other fast food franchises, they're making every noodle from scratch.
You know you're in the right place when you see Korean ex-pats and their families sitting down to steaming bowls of jjamppong or plates of jjajang. But you don't expect to find them in a franchise. At Paik's Noodle, which sits tucked among a number of Korean food shops in this Glenview strip mall, everything is based on the founding chef's recipes.
"He owns bunch of franchise restaurants in Korea and then we are one of the franchises in U.S," said Yuni Cho, whose family owns and runs the Glenview franchise.
But the Chinese-style noodles seem to bridge the gap between those two countries.
"Panda Express version of Korean," she said.
Dough is mixed on-site in back, then passed through a sheeter several times, until it reaches the proper thickness. Cooks cut the dough into rectangles, then cut them again in the machines. They boil them for about a minute or two, then shock them in cold water so they don't overcook.
"It's like every day noodle that's kind of Chinese but now traditional Korean now," said Cho.
And they're used in several preparations, either wok-tossed with vegetables in a mild version, or placed in among pork, squid and vegetables in a spicy broth. They also offer lightly-fried mandu, or dumplings, as well as two types of chicken wings - one tossed in a Korean barbecue chili sauce, the other in a sweeter soy, sesame and garlic option. The menu is compact, but without question, the jjamppong is what most customers come for.
"Like savory-salty-sweet, so depending on what you feel like. A lot of times on a colder winter day, a lot of Koreans crave this hot noodle soup. So that's what we are famous for," she said.
In Steve's extra course, he talks about the giant tempura-fried shrimp dish known as Mayo Seau, which also has a bit of sugar, lemon and mayo.
Extra Course: Tempura-friend shrimp at Paik's Noodle
1615 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview