This could qualify as a serious food addiction for me. A few years ago, I tried the amazing chicken wings at the Great Seas Chinese restaurant in Albany Park, and instantly fell for them. When the owner's daughters opened a fast-casual restaurant in Pilsen, I was excited - then disappointed - since they weren't making them the same, labor-intensive way. That is, until a few months ago, when they reverted to the old method of de-boning the wings. Now, those little hotties rank as the best wings in town.
They're just chicken wings, right? What could possibly make them special? At the tiny Take Me Out in Pilsen, the style of their wings - called 'Hotties' - is certainly unique.
"We decided to come up with a trendy name and we were like, 'what are these? They're little hot, hotties!' So we came up with little hotties," said Karen Lim, owner of Take Me Out.
Lim's father created the recipe decades ago, and still uses it at his restaurant in Albany Park. They begin by breaking the wings in half, discarding the tip, and then de-boning the middle section of the wing. The other half of the wing is "Frenched," and has the meat pushed to one side.
"He decided one day, to just push all the meat to one end and create a handle so you just need to get a couple of your fingers dirty and the meat just comes right off the bone," said Lim.
The wings are dipped into a batter - secret recipe of course - and then dropped into a fryer filled with vegetable oil for about five minutes. They constantly checked and separated with tongs to keep them from sticking together. Meanwhile, the secret sauce is slowly heated in a wok. There is mild and spicy. The latter is the secret weapon here. It takes about eight hours to make, and contains different types of dried and fresh chilies, soy, garlic, honey and a few other undisclosed items. The cooked wings are dumped into the sauce and tossed until they're just coated. A few chives are added along the way. As soon as they're plated, they're whisked out to the dining room, and come with a choice of white, brown or purple rice. Some crisp, pickled daikon radish is also served alongside. The finished product has everything going for it: sweet, spicy, sticky, crunchy and chewy. Quite simply, a one-of-a-kind chicken wing. Lim says the key to success has been her father's sauce recipe.
"It's been with our family for 25 years. He's been cooking it every morning and it's a family secret," Lim said.
Take Me Out
1502 W. 18 St.
3254 W. Lawrence Ave.