Chicago’s Joong Boo Market

Pork-filled buns                                         Source: William Meppem

Pork-filled buns                                         Source: William Meppem

I recently ventured to Avondale to explore Joong Boo Market and get my fix on authentic Korean grub. Located in the northwest side between Kimball and Avondale, the Korean grocery store + restaurant easily met and exceeded my expectations. First of all, they have a dumpling stand outside which sells massive buns for $2 apiece. This is my kind of deal! They offer pork, spicy kimchi with pork and red bean fillings. Sadly, I was too excited eating the tasty snacks and forgot to snap pics.

Inside the store, things can get a bit overwhelming with the endless varieties of noodles, ramen, potstickers, kimchi, and so on. They also stock a wide selection of frozen and dried seafood, meats and produce. For a store that offers infinite options on all things Korean, its small size is very manageable for a first time visitor. However, I wasn’t there to shop. My purpose was to eat! Tucked away in the right corner of the store, is the restaurant that’s more of a tiny food court with a handful of tables. They feature a huge menu on the wall with extensive dishes, accompanied with photos and descriptions. Thankfully, I went with my friend who frequents the market and had some pointers to navigate the menu. I ordered soon do boo, a spicy silken tofu soup with mussels and shrimp (#4 on the menu). When my stainless steel cafeteria style tray arrived, the soup was violently boiling. I slowly and carefully walked to my table as I was terrified of tripping. I did not :) To say that I enjoyed the soup is an understatement. The broth was rich and flavorful, while the sides of kimchi, rice and unknown seafood-like dish were a nice compliment. I highly recommend.

Overall I was very happy with this Korean wonderland. I will be sure to visit again and stock up on potsickers and sashimi (FYI: they have $25 platter specials on Wednesdays. Call in the morning to reserve yours). With the rise in popularity of Korean food, the store has been receiving lots of love lately. Even the annoying Andrew Zimmern paid a visit to the store recently.  

Because I love food, specifically ethnic cuisines, I want to know about your eating preferences. Are you an adventurous eater? What’s your favorite ethnic food and where do you like to eat it? Do you have any recommendations I should check out? Send them my way! 

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