En Hakkore – 1840 N Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL
There’s something simple and delicious about En Hakkore. The space is small – just enough for 6 or 8 tables. It’s reasonably quick, and the service is friendly. the menu is simple – there’s not a whole lot to choose from., and most importantly, fresh ingredients. I had first gone a few months after it had first opened and was quite impressive. And while this time around it didn’t seem quite as impressive, it was still a solid meal.
We started with an order of the tacos – got one each of the beef and spicy pork tacos. The paratha flatbreads work perfectly as a shell – thick enough to provide the perfect support and with a nice toasty flavor. The ingredients themselves – a perfectly spiced traditional Korean bbq pork, and a lightly sweetened bulgogi, each with a kimchi slaw that works well together.
The choices here are pretty simple – get a bibimbap bowl – pick white or brown rice, and pick your protein – a bulgogi beef, spicy pork, vegetarian, or sashimi bap with an assortment of raw fish. I went with the spicy pork and added a healthy dose of gochujang to spice it up even further. The dish itself is pretty simple, the portion size is huge for the price, and the pork has a good amount of slow heat that’ll give you a just a light sweat by the time you’re done with the dish. The veggies, while a bit different than a traditional bowl of bibimbap, are fresh and add great color to the dish. The egg is hard-boiled, but would have been better with a fresh fried egg.
The simplicity and visual appearance of the dishes at En Hakkore goes a long way. Add the fact that a meal here is reasonably healthy and you got another bonus. The strikes against it are the size of the dining room, which can be a problem if it gets busy, and that it’s not BYOB. I’m not sure if it warrants all the 5-star reviews it’s been getting, but it’s a solid joint that will keep me going back.