Susie's Noon Hour Grill in Chicago, Where Syrup Meets Chop Chae
If Edward Hopper were Korean, he probably wouldn't have modeled his famous Nighthawks painting after a Greenwich Village diner. Rather, he might have considered Susie's Noon Hour Grill in Chicago's Rogers Park. Susie's doesn't have much neon but there's an ample flat-top, a vintage Pepsi cooler, and plenty of cheesy décor including some disturbing clown paintings.
The food is a mix of American breakfast diner standards like pancakes and bacon with Korean stalwarts like pa jun and bulgogi. Sometimes the two cultures meet in owner Soon Lee's (she also goes by Susie) kimchee omelet. There's plenty of good stuff at Susie's, including Lee herself--a charming grandmotherly type who does everything from washing dishes to taking and cooking the orders.
I stumbled upon Susie's Noon Hour Grill last week and ordered an array of dishes--all pretty good, but I was really intrigued by the chop chae. Generally the chop chae I've come across is a nondescript mass of super-salty limp noodles, flaccid vegetables, and steamed meat. But not this.
As I watched Susie make her chop chae, I saw her drop a touch of pancake syrup in the wok. The finished version had a taste of maple (even if it was fake) sweetness which was the perfect complement to the firm sweet potato noodles and salty, crisp vegetables, and marinated beef. It was one the of the best versions I've had.
So this now begs the question: What other unexpected ways do you use Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth, and other grocery store breakfast syrups?
Susie's Noon Hour Grill
6930 North Glenwood Avenue, Chicago IL 60626 (map); 773-338-9494