Chicago wings -- it's all about the sauce

January 26, 2011 10:00:44 AM PST
Two wing restaurants -- Cravin' Chicago Wings and Jake Melnick's Corner Tap -- take their sauces very seriously, says ABC7's Hungry Hound.

If you go to Crisp in Lakeview, you'll taste the remarkable Korean-style of fried chicken Laced with garlic, soy and sesame. On the South Side, wings around the world fashions its menu after the international styles of wings in several countries. But at the latest wing emporium, tucked into a multi-ethnic neighborhood, the emphasis is mainly on the sauce.

There are plenty of places claiming they serve hot wings, but few, if any, could ever attempt to match the award-winning, Triple X wings from Jake Melnick's Corner Tap on the Near North Side. They use an Indian ghost pepper, which is several times hotter than the always-lethal habanera. If that proves too much, they also have a very good Buffalo-style wing, calmed somewhat with the addition of butter in the sauce.

Way up in the Arcadia Terrace neighborhood, tucked between a Korean restaurant and a Filipino bakery, Cravin' Chicago Wings is also firing up the fryer -- but here, it's all about the sauces.

"I've been eating wings for like 18 years with my buddies, you know. And, so I got the opportunity to start something up and I figured what do I like more; I like sports and wings, it's the perfect match," said owner Gil Jimenez.

Jimenez and his team whip up 11 different sauces for their fried wings.. and you can tell they're homemade. The teriyaki alone includes freshly-chopped garlic, ginger and scallions.. plus soy and vinegar. Honey barbeque is another popular sauce, but for every standard flavor, there's a wild card, like the bacon and cheese sauce.

"I noticed like everybody, in Chicago especially, it's just that their palates are so different,you know, and if you stick with one, you know, they might get bored of it after a while. So I wanted to give a good variety of selection for people to try," he said.

Asian palates will appreciate the Thai-influenced peanut sauce.. while football gameday purists will gravitate to one of the hot wings, where cayenne plays a starrring role.

"Our Chicago fire is probably one of the most popular, too, because of the heat level that it has. So it depends on the person's tolerance level; some people sweat, some people are like, eh it's alright. But for the most part I think that's one of our hottest sellers," said Jimenez.

Cravin' Chicago Wings
5750 N California

Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
41 East Superior St

also mentioned:

Wings Around the World
510 East 75th Street

2940 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60657

Great Seas Chinese
3254 W. Lawrence Ave.

Take Me Out
1502 W. 18th St.