We're lucky to live in Chicago, where we can "visit" other countries on a whim - via the huge selection of delicious ethnic restaurants that dot our city. It's never too early to take your kids along with you, introducing them to the tastes of other cultures. Here are three picks for family-friendly, fun and adventuresome dining with your kids around the world in our windy city.
Korea - San Soo Gab San
5247 N Western Ave
(between Farragut Ave & Berwyn Ave)
Neighborhood: Lincoln Square
At this traditional Korean BBQ restaurant, patrons remove their shoes at the seating entrance and sit on on the floor (in very comfy floor chairs), with a tiny coal burning firepit at the center of the table - right off the bat, my 10-year-old was loving this set up! Your kid is bound to find a dish or two or three from the over twenty-five different mini-appetizer/veggie dishes - ban chan - that are served with every meal. Choose from a variety of meats - we like the sweetly marinated beef bulgogi - which you'll grill yourself over your personal firepit.
India - Tiffin
2536 W. Devon Ave.
Neighorhood: Devon Ave. / Little India
Explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of India on Devon Avenue (west of Western Ave.), where Chicago's Indian community shows off some of its best wares and restaurant fare. Browse the shops and boutiques: I recommend doing some grocery shopping at Patel Brothers (2610 West Devon), where you'll find cases of fresh mangoes and a wide selection of fine spices and teas, and little girls will love choosing a few colorful (and inexpensive!) bangle bracelets from Sahiba Boutique (2614 West Devon). When it comes time to eat, Tiffin is our restaurant of choice: You'll always find a number of delicious, veggie-based dishes and tandoori grilled meats (take your kids to see the rear of the restaurant, where you can watch the chefs wield the flaming tandoor ovens). My kids love Tiffin's samosas - crispy fried pastries filled with peas and potatoes - and mango lassis - pureed mango mixed into a smoothie with yogurt. On weekends, catch the lunchtime buffet where you can choose from a wide selection of dishes.
China - Joy Yee's
2139 S. China Place (Chinatown Square Mall)
Chinatown Square Mall in Chicago's Chinatown is the perfect place for an afternoon treat: we love the Bubble Teas and smoothies at Joy Yee's, where a colorful picture menu features a wide selection of fruity drinks. The "bubbles" are large tapioca balls that have the consistency of jello and can be slurped up using the special wide straws. Afterwards, stroll through the mall, pop into the many boutiques, choose a few interesting candies from the candy store (Aji Ichiban; 2117 South China Place) and climb the stairs to the second floor of the mall - Can you spot the two pagodas? At the main square, see if you can spot your Chinese zodiac sign - Do the personality characteristics fit you?