I like my food the way I like men…hot and spicy with just enough underlying sweetness to make me swoon! So, when a local Chicago comedian gushed recently about the incredibly tasty, Korean fried chicken being served up at CRISP in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, my mouth began to water.
Usually, I take care to eat healthfully, but a person can devote only so much time to quinoa, fish and veggies. I was way overdue for some fried food and CRISP sounded like just the place to feed my craving. Today was the day. I topped off my afternoon of beauty (hair appointment and pedicure) with a solo, early dinner at CRISP. I hopped the CTA Brown ‘L” line to the Wellington stop and walked the 5 blocks over to Broadway where CRISP is located at 2940 N. Broadway. I walk along his street quite often, yet, I managed to miss out on this place for the 6 years it has been there. Unbelievable!
Holy crap! I was not disappointed.
CRISP is a tiny joint with communal seating which includes 2 counter spaces (One is at the front window. The other is along the wall opposite the order counter.) and 3 picnic-style tables with benches. You can dine-in or carry out. Also, they deliver within a certain radius on Chicago’s north side. They are open every day from 11:30am – 9:00pm.
Upon arriving, I was greeted by the friendly and helpful counter staff who helped me choose an order of half a chicken in their signature Seoul Sassy sauce which is a family recipe handed down through many generations. The Seoul Sassy has a subtle sweetness and is prepared with ginger, soy and other delicious spices. Being the hot sauce lover that I am, I asked for some small dipping sides of their other sauces, the CRISP BBQ and the “Suicide”. Adorning each counter and table are the other sauce options: Buddah Sauce and Allison’s Atomic Sauce.
Although, the Seoul Sassy fried chicken was perfectly flavorful on its own, I took the opportunity to dip some of the pieces in each of the other sauces. I loved them all! This chicken is the juiciest, sexiest, most succulent and satisfying fried chicken I have EVER had. I can only lament that for the last 6 years it has not been part of my life. Patience is not my strong suit, so I took my time at practicing delayed gratification while enjoying every delectable bite! It is no small wonder that this place has received accolades from many food critics, Zagat’s and The Cooking Channel. CRISP’s slogan is “The Bird is the Word” and I wholeheartedly agree that, CRISP’s birds have the last word!
CRISP prides itself on using “hormone-free chicken that is fresh and never frozen” and very “lightly battered by hand.” The chicken is pressure-fried in zero-trans-fat oil and then glazed with the sauce of your choice or none at all.
Not into fried chicken? No worries! CRISP offers BUDDAH BOWLS (their variation on the traditional Korean dish, Bi Bim Bop) as well as Korean burritos, kimchee, a selection of sides, beverages and dessert. I will definitely be back regularly to try those options including their fried jumbo chicken wings which look like monsters.
One last note. A member of the counter staff came over to check on how I was enjoying my first meal with CRISP which I greatly appreciated. Also, this tiny, communal dining space lends itself to easy conversation with the other patrons all of whom are gawking at each other’s dining choices for future contemplation. This makes it an ideal and comfortable location for the solo diner.
For more information, visit www.crisponline.com.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Brown or Purple line over to CRISP. Save on gas. Avoid traffic and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!