Digging into the cluckin' awesome world of our favorite fried food.
This city is in a weird place about fried chicken at the moment. It's not like the stuff was invented yesterday; we have a homegrown chain of fried chicken places (Harold's), a restaurant that had some of the best in town just closed (West Town Tavern) for lack of trendy-people patronage, yet at the same moment everybody goes crazy over any new fried chicken place that opens—followed immediately by others furiously denouncing its bonelessness or its too-hip-to-be-hospitable service.
What that certainly means is that some places can get not merely overlooked but consigned to irrelevancy in the ascendance of a new Best Fried Chicken Ever. Trying to think of somewhere to eat around Rogers Park recently, I remembered a place that opened at the beginning of the year, had a brief flash of fame and excitement—and now I wasn't even sure if it still existed. It was DAK, on Granville.
It's a little Korean fast food spot for the college kids up there. The menu is pretty simple: as at other Asian fast food places like Crisp or Take Me Out, you can get wings, with your choice of a soy-ginger sauce or a spicy-sticky hot sauce. You can also get chunks of white meat tossed with rice, or a simple bulgogi with rice.
First off, you want the wings over the bland boneless skinless white meat, and you want the soy-ginger sauce over the hot sauce; it's more complex and interesting than simply dousing everything in hot goo. Best Fried Chicken Ever? Perhaps not, but the wings are big and meaty—almost as big as the pteranodon wings at Grand Palace in Chinatown—and well fried. I liked the place better than Crisp or Take Me Out, mostly because the wings are like eating real chicken pieces, not the bar snack that wings often are.
The bulgogi isn't going to change your life—the only bulgogi that could do that is surely Smalls' smoked brisket bulgogi—but it's clean-tasting and likable enough if you're in the area. And they make some nice housemade pickles and stuff to go on the side. But really, this is a one-dish spot, clean and bright and well run. Good fried chicken. No waiting.
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