Spicy foods: Kim Chee Ji Gae at San-Su
Like many dishes on my list, this Korean soup's ($11) fire-engine red color is a clue to its sizzling nature. It's a smoking hot riot of flavors and textures that arrives in a black stone pot at a steams-up-your-eyeglasses high temperature. The extra-large bowl holds a lively mix of stewed greens, kim chee cabbage, scallions and fermented chili paste that give its complex and gurgling broth deep, earthy and tantalizingly sour flavors. Curls of tender pork and sesame oil lend it richness. Silky tofu and chewy rice cakes provide amusingly contrasting textures.
As a bonus, this killer stew comes with rice and 10 or so small plates of super-high-quality ban chan side dishes, making it a tremendous value.
Heat factor: 3.5 out of 4
1138 Bethel Rd., Northwest Side