There have been Korean chicken wing joints in Chicago the past few years, many of them in Niles. A fan of Crisp, in Lakeview, ABC7's Hungry Hound says there's a new player on the Korean chicken wing circuit -- and their versions are among the best in town.
The process for making the addictive chicken wings at Dak - which is translated as "chicken" in Korean, and is now the focus for this tiny restaurant in Edgewater - is pretty straightforward. But the results are spectacular.
"We're more of a paper-thin, not as crunchy; less of the outside, more of the soft, moist chicken, instead of too heavy on the breading," said owner Tom Ju.
They first dredge in flour, let it rest, then dredge a second time.
"Kind of want to let the secret flour dredge kind of soak into the skin before you dredge it again or it's kind of stacking on top of each other," Ju said.
The wings are fried once, in standard fryers holding canola oil.
"What we're doing is after the first fry, you let it cool down for about five, 10 minutes, then we put it into the pressure fryer. The purpose of the pressure fryer now is to add the moisture into the chicken," said Ju.
They spend about five minutes in the peanut oil-loaded pressure fryer, then cool before getting sauced. Their barbecue sauce looks hot, but it's deceiving, thanks to gojujang, a beloved Korean chili paste.
"So compared to just a Buffalo, which is more of a vinegary, hot based, ours is actually a little bit sweet in it too. With that right touch of spice," said Ju.
The other version is more Seoul-inspired, finished with sesame seeds and scallions.
"Traditional soy-garlic, which is used in a lot of red meat-based dishes in Korean culture, but with my parents' own rendition of it of course," he said.
Ju's parents do pretty much all of the work. Beyond the wings, they assemble rice bowls, or bibimbop, loaded with freshly-made vegetarian condiments, rice and if you choose, expertly marinated-and-cooked bulgogi beef, chicken or pork, plus a fried egg. A bottle of gojujang is provided at the table, if you want to zing it up a bit. Dakbokki contains chewy and crisp rice cakes that look like stubby carrots - drowned as they are in chili sauce - and a few sides like crunchy daikon radish or spicy, fermented kimchi round out the homemade offerings.
"My parents are literally back there every day for hours, preparing every single radish, vegetable and it's literally homemade," he said.
Since this is a very busy weekend with the Super Bowl on Sunday, you might want to call ahead to place your orders, just in case they get super busy.
Dak Korean Chicken Wings
1104 W. Granville