Dig in to barbecue, spicy rice cakes and more at 3 new Korean spots in Chicago

If you've got Korean fare on the brain, you're in luck: we've found the freshest Chicago eateries to quell your cravings. Here are the most recent arrivals to keep in mind for the next time you're in the mood for anything from fast-casual barbecue to fine dining.

San Soo Korean Barbecue

401 N. Milwaukee Ave., River West

Photo: Evan F./Yelp

San Soo Korean Barbecue in River West is the third location for the Michelin-recognized standby of the Chicago Korean barbecue scene. It's located at 401 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the former space of Black Iron Tavern.

As we recently reported, the restaurant is the project of owner Christopher Kim, whose parents run the previous San Soo locations. Menu offerings include seafood pancakes, steak tartare and kimchi stew, as well as classic barbecue options like pork belly, short rib, rib-eye and beef brisket.

At the bar, diners will find house signature cocktails such as the vodka-infused Shiso Mule with lime and ginger beer, and the Ahjoomargarita with tequila, agave and citrus. (You can check out the full menu here.)

San Soo Korean Barbecue currently holds 3.5 stars out of 56 reviews on Yelp, indicating fair reviews.

Yelper Emily P., who reviewed San Soo Korean Barbecue on August 13, wrote, "I was pleasantly surprised at the spiciness of my kimchi jigae. I would have appreciated more meat, but it tasted good overall. The kimchi fried rice in dolsot had a great crunch on the outer edges from being scorched."

But Yelper John L. wrote, "The prices are higher at this location (rightfully so since it's closer to the city center), but the portions were very small. Even the banchan was on the skimpy side."

San Soo Korean Barbecue is open from 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and noon-10 p.m. on weekends. (It's closed on Monday.)


36 S. Ashland, Near West Side

Photo: Joyce C./Yelp

SoJu BBQ is a fast-casual style Korean barbecue spot from chef-owner Jake Lee, as we recently reported. Located at 36 S. Ashland Ave., it specializes in counter-service combination meals for dine-in or take-out. (It also offers free delivery.)

Diners have a choice of slow-cooked beef short ribs in a soy-ginger marinade, rib-eye, Korean-style brisket, grilled pork belly and chicken with spicy gochujang. The proteins are accompanied by a variety of banchan (side dishes), or served as a bento-style box with rice and pickled veggies.

SoJu BBQ is on its way to building a local fan base, with five stars out of 17 reviews on Yelp so far.

"The quality of products is so fresh and cooked perfectly to order," wrote Yelper T.D. T., who reviewed SoJu BBQ on August 5. "All the meats are local, which is really great. Each meat is seasoned just right and so tender and juicy."

Jeremy L. seconded, "The kalbi was a large chunk of probably one of the best cooked cuts of meat I've had in Chicago. Nicely charred but not overly so. Super juicy and literally fall-off-the-bone tender."

SoJu BBQ is open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. daily.


5420 N. Clark St., Andersonville

Photo: W. W./Yelp

Passerotto is an upscale Korean restaurant in Andersonville by Snaggletooth veteran chef Jennifer Kim. Located at 5420 N. Clark St., it serves a slightly Italian- and Midwest-inflected version of Korean cuisine, according to Foodable.

Diners can start the meal with small plates like raw yellowtail with corn, hijiki and Thai chilies. House specialty entrees include the ddukbokki (spicy rice cake) lamb ragu and the two-person glazed short ribs with kimchi. (You can check out the full menu here.)

Passerotto currently holds four stars out of 43 reviews on Yelp, indicating good reviews.

Yelper Arielle A. wrote, "The short ribs were cooked perfectly (melt in your mouth). I loved that it was seasoned minimally, so you could really taste the quality of the meat itself. The red cabbage kimchi was a nice twist and it paired well with the gochujang and banchan."

"The food is delicious! The salmon small plate was absolutely scrumptious. The short rib big plate was also really good," Yelper Martin N. agreed, although lamenting the temporary lack of air conditioning.

Passerotto is open from 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. on Friday, and 5 p.m.-11 p.m. on Saturday. (It's closed on Monday and Sunday.)