Dining

Coal for Real

Gogi is Chicago's finest new Korean barbecue joint
Gogi Korean Barbecue
Gogi's galbi sizzling on the charcoal grill

Our first thought upon seeing the platter loaded with a double order of marinated galbi at Gogi in West Rogers Park: There is no way that three people can finish that.

Oh, how wrong we were.

Those flavorful strips of boneless short rib ($26) marinated in soy, garlic, ginger and sugar and cooked over the charcoal grill embedded the table? Devoured, with the help of lettuce leaves, perilla, cilantro and chile sauce.

Those rectangular swaths of bone, roasted over the fire until their layers of meat and fat caramelize? Stripped clean.

Even the sprawling pajeon--a springy, seafood-stuffed pancake ($12)--was finished after a turn on the grill resuscitated crisp edges that had gone soft as we ignored it while destroying the meat.

The caliber of the food makes it clear that Gogi is helmed by pros--specifically, Pete Cho and his mother, Stella, who own Yeowoosai, the 18-year-old Korean bar next door. They dote on their new baby, with Stella stopping by our table to cut the slippery buckwheat noodles in cold, refreshing mul naeng myun ($10), urging us to season the clear beef broth with white vinegar and spicy mustard.

We're already fantasizing about a return trip--a fantasy that includes visions of samgyeopsal ($18), a dish of pork belly, kimchi and bean sprouts sizzled on a cast-iron griddle.

Gogi 6240 N. California Ave. Chicago IL 60659 773-274-6669

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