Gogi features fried rice you help make yourself

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fried rice is usually something you think of ordering from a Chinese restaurant, but the dish is being elevated to new heights in a West Rogers park strip mall, a bonus dish if you will, at the end of a traditional Korean barbecue, and you get to help make it yourself.

It's always a lively night out at Gogi, an approachable Korean barbecue restaurant in West Rogers Park, where the staff is happy to help. But not every meal begins with thin, lean short ribs, or kalbi, cooked on traditional grills. Instead, fattier cuts like pork belly get a sealed grill.

"We like to cook it on this rather than the open grill which has the charcoal cooking it because it's fattier and you don't want the flames to burn it up right away," said owner Pete Cho.

The bonus? An extra course of do-it-yourself fried rice. After you've eaten your grilled beef, they'll cut the pork belly into small pieces, add some fiery, fermented kimchi and bean sprouts, plus toss in some of the leftover banchan, or vegetarian sides dishes. Then comes white rice with gochujang, the sweet-hot Korean chili paste. That all gets mixed up on the grill, then they'll crack an egg on top, and scatter a cilantro-lettuce salad around it.

"It's like a party right here, just look at it. It's kind of insane actually," he said. "The rice is cooking up now. It's gonna get crispy underneath, and we call that nurungji which is 'crispy rice.'"

After 10 minutes, the fried rice - with its crispy bottom layer - is mixed up with a spatula and served in small bowls.

"You just dig in. You just grab a spatula and start mixing it around a little bit too and then you've got kimchi fried rice which is a very nice bonus at the end," said Cho. "We just want our customers to have a really good time."

Now the amount of rice and kimchi they put on the grill depends on how many people are at the table, but you better come hungry because making your own fried rice after grilling your own beef or pork is certainly filling.

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