After hearing so many positive comments about Parachute, the Korean-inspired restaurant from Top Chef alum Beverly Kim and her husband Johnny Clark located in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago, I could not wait to dine there myself. The space is intimate, with only 40 seats, and tables are very close together. But, something about the energy in the restaurant immediately made me feel comfortable, relaxed, and at home. Perhaps it is because many families with small children were dining around us, in addition to the groups of friends and couples seated in the dining room, as well. Or it could have been the open kitchen and attentive, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable servers who expertly guided us through the menu. Whatever it was made me want to stay for a while and taste the love and attention put into every dish.
Parachute describes its food as “Korean American” and “globally inspired cuisine,” and that is exactly what you will find on the menu, which is designed to be shared and allow for a tasting of numerous menu items. The selections change nightly and, in fact, each menu is stamped with the date of your visit. Food allergies are taken seriously and are accommodated when possible. Our server noted directly on my menu which items were soy-free in order to accommodate my allergy.
My friend and I started with the market oysters with soju granita, which were the perfect accompaniment to a fantastic and refreshing Spanish Cava. The oysters were plump and perfect with just a squeeze of lemon.
We then enjoyed one of my favorite dishes of the meal, the fried tapioca – three cubes of goodness topped with Pecorino cheese and furikake, a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of rice. I could have subsisted on these fried treats for the entire meal.
We also enjoyed the crispy sesame leaves, served with a bourbon barrel soy on the side. The leaves were just lightly fried, tempura style, and were not overly greasy or doughy. They would make a perfect replacement for potato chips with any meal!
Another favorite dish of mine from the meal, and one that was just added to the menu in time for summer, was the Chameh melon salad, made with the yellow Korean melon, green gochu, or Korean chili peppers, feta cheese, burnt onion, and shiso, an herb in the mint family. The salad was flavorful, refreshing, and healthy. It also served as a wonderful palate cleanser prior to our entrees.
I thought that the chicken, served with fava leaves, cepes, a type of mushroom, and garlic confit, was wonderful. The meat was tender and juicy and very flavorful, and the mushrooms and garlic lended a nice earthiness to the dish.
My friend liked the vegetarian black lentil mandu, or dumplings, with snap peas, green curry, and pistachio.
For dessert, we shared a wonderful strawberry, bittersweet chocolate, meringue, and matcha creation that was the perfect end to a fabulous meal.
Everything about Parachute was superb and I cannot wait to return. Parachute is open for dinner service Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are accepted and encouraged, though walk-ins are accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis.
3500 North Elston Avenue, Chicago, IL