JeffB shoots....He scores....Nothing but Net!
Hourglass Korean is a real find, good food, late hours, super nice people, you can sit at the bar and watch TV or converse with the engaging Mr. Im, sit at one of the booths with three or four people or one of the long rough hewn wood tables with groups of 20. Hourglass has beer/liquor/soju and an interesting menu of Korean food including excellent Hourglass Korean style fried chicken.
As JeffB said, Hourglass is a bit daunting from the outside, but once you enter it is welcoming, though in a subdued manner. The interior reminded me of Wisconsin roadhouse meets Korean meets Tiki bar, with a scattering of Martial arts swords, more on that latter. Slightly dark, but nothing out of the ordinary for a bar atmosphere. I was by myself and took a seat at the bar and initially the youthful bartender seemed ever so slightly offput by my presence, but my inquiry as to the the fried chicken put him immediately at ease.
I ordered a 'regular' Hourglass fried chicken and an OB, and was immediately served a plate of crisp cucumber sections and a mild Korean style hot sauce for dipping. A reasonable time passed, about the time necessary to fry chicken from scratch, and I was served a bowl of mild pickled daikon radish pieces, a salt/szechwan pepper dry rub for dredging and a platter of fried chicken cut into 10-pieces. The chicken platter also came with a salad of iceberg lettuce topped with shredded cabbage and dressed with 1000 Island.
The chicken was wonderful, aromatic, juicy, crisp, flavorful, everything JeffB said, but the best was yet to come. As I was digging into my second chunk of chicken the owner Mr. Im, he owns Hourglass with his wife Mrs. Chin Im, came over to chat and asked me how I liked the chicken. When I responded positively he suggested next time out I try the Hot and Spicy as opposed to the regular. He said that many of his customers, most of which are Korean, as one might imagine, but also quite a few Thai, loved the Hot and Spicy. Being the Chowhound that I am I asked Mr. Im to package the remaining 'regular' to go and please bring me an order of the Hot and Spicy, a good move on my part.
I'm having difficulty describing the Hot and Spicy Hourglass Chicken, it's crisp with a mildly spicy, sticky, coating, but in no way tasting of breading or sweet flavors. It's reminiscent of Great Sea spicy chicken wings, without the oil and milder in flavor. The Hot and Spicy was topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and served with the same salad as the Regular.
As Jeff noted Hourglass is a late night spot, as I was leaving, around 10:30, the beginning of a party of 20 Thais were drifting in for a birthday celebration and the booths were just starting to fill up. In addition to the Hot and Spicy chicken Mr. Im suggested a few dishes for my next visit, Octopus w/spicy sauce and Octopus w/spicy sauce and noodles, Grilled Mussels and Bai Top Shell w/vegetable and homemade sauce. Also on the menu were Grilled Eel, Pan Fried sauteed Squid w/spicy sauce, Kim Chi Stew, Dry Squid, Fresh Fruit, Dry Fish, Boiled Conch w/sauce and Korean Pancake.
Mr. Im is an interesting person and has owned a number of Korean restaurants in Chicago including the original Gin Go Gae on Lincoln and Kang Shu, where Kang Nam is currently located. In addition to his restaurant duties with Mrs. Im, Mr. Im owns a Martial Arts school that focuses on the Sword on Elston Ave. As Mr. Im and I chatted we discovered that we had mutual acquaintances and he became, if possible, even more friendly, even to the point of walking me outside as I left and wishing me well.
Given Hourglasses late hours I might suggest a multiple Chowhound event on Lawrence Ave one evening or even a group get together at Hourglass. The only downside to spending a complete evening at Hourglass, that I can see, are the liquor prices, which are in the nightclub range as opposed to bar/restaurant.
Great find Jeff!
3658 W Lawrence