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Hae Woon Dae

View Map6240 N. California Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 764-8018
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Editorial Review of Hae Woon Dae

There's often an inverse relationship between the quality of the decor and the quality of the food at ethnic joints, and Hae Woon Dae proves the rule. Aside from private paper- and wood-screened Japanese Tatami-style rooms, Hae Woon Dae is a utilitarian storefront filled with black metal chairs, faux granite patterned tables, Asian souvenir store kitsch and a jungle of potted greenery.

In contrast to the spartan decor, the food is an exquisite, never-ending buffet. Choose from a long list of pre-seasoned and marinated meats, vegetables and seafood: Soy-garlic-infused kalbi short ribs,$15.95, or sesame-marinated bulgogi sirloin strips, $14.95, are excellent.

Once you've made your selection, a bucket of live coals recalling the hottest place in hell is brought to your table. Throw your selections on the grill, order up a few glasses of the Korean Budweiser, OB beer, and live the suburban backyard dream. The kitchen fleshes out your meal with a dozen plates of complimentary Panchan- and Korean-style appetizers, including kim chi, red chili-infused fermented cabbage. If you'd rather skip the smoke, try the bi bim bop, an earthenware pot of sizzling rice, spicy vegetables and/or meat and a poached egg.

Hae Woon Dae is an excellent place to score some stomach-lining eats after a particularly raucous night of drinking. In fact it only seems to get packed late at night, which makes it a great alternative for an early Friday or Saturday night without reservations. Entrees and BBQ items range between $7-$30, with most selections averaging $16.

Average cost: $10-$20

Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant

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4 p.m.-5 a.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-5 a.m. Saturday-Sunday

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