Windy City Welcome: Part 2 (Korean Edition)

First and foremost:

CONGRATS!!! to my sister/”wombmate,” Mikala, and her fiance, Kyle, on their engagement!!


This all went down a couple weeks ago during their recent trip to Madrid, Spain where Kyle proposed at Puerta del Sol, which is (appropriately) the very heart of the city.

We’re very excited to be officially welcoming Kyle into the family.  I’ve already pinned about 10000 things onto Mikala’s Wedding Pinterest board.  Let’s just hope she likes navy blue, coral, and antique gold for her wedding colors…

Around the time Kyle was plotting his proposal a few weeks ago, my brother Jihoon, his wife Bora, and their friends James and Joy flew here from Texas for a visit.  All four are originally from South Korea but moved to Texas last January to study theology.

In honor of their stay, we decided to do a cookout (and by “cookout” I really mean crowding around the grill on our tiny balcony).  I introduced them to the wonderful world of Whole Foods, where we picked up some pricey necessary provisions.

DSC03945Joy + Bora demonstrating the art of slider-making

DSC03971_01Patrick grilling while representing both Nat Geo and NASA

DSC03955Jihoon supervising from afar 🙂

As tempted as I was to turn this into Korean BBQ night, I knew this was their first time (except for Jihoon who was here previously for my wedding) in the Midwest, so we wanted to keep it simple and classic.

On the menu:

DSC_0203Grilled Salmon

DSC_0204Mushroom Caps

DSC_0206Grilled Asparagus

DSC_0207Corn on the Cob

DSC_0208Jamaican Jerk Chicken

DSC_0205 (1)Sliders

Not pictured: Roasted Potatoes

And of course there was plenty of kimchi!


Unfortunately our kitchen table only seats four, so we crowded around the coffee table.


Later that night, we followed up with some Andy’s Frozen Custard to treat Jihoon + Bora for their well-earned Yahtzee victory.


On Sunday, we checked out Willow Creek Community Church (their main branch in South Barrington, IL) – definitely the biggest church I’ve been to as evidenced by the fact that there is an information booth when you walk in along with escalators leading up to the second level.IMG_1887

Since Jihoon is a pastor in South Korea, I expect his church to be this size one day.

IMG_1889IMG_1890Willow Creek_01

One of my favorite Korean snacks is kimbap, which is sort of like the Korean version of Japanese maki rolls but the flavors/ingredients are slightly different and it is consumed more casually as a snack.

I love eating kimbap at picnics, but the problem is that you kind of have to make a significant amount of kimbap to make it worth buying all of the ingredients and putting forth all of the time and effort.  Most people in Korea can buy it by the roll for $1 or $2 each from stands, convenience stores, or restaurants, but unfortunately we don’t quite have that luxury in the U.S.

That said, having a group of Koreans staying at my house seemed like the perfect excuse to make kimbap.  So I bought the ingredients in advance hoping they would oblige me… which thankfully they did!

Bora seasoned the rice liberally with sesame oil and salt.  We just used regular sushi rice.


Joy helped prepare ingredients, which included imitation crab, ham, eggs, spinach, carrots, and pickled radish.  Other popular ingredients for kimbap include canned tuna with mayonnaise, kimchi, bulgogi, and cheese (not all on the same roll.. that would be interesting.)


Somehow we managed to coerce the guys into helping us roll.


Enthusiasm points go to Jihoon and Patrick 🙂


Ideally we would’ve enjoyed our kimbap with a picnic on the beach near my house under the sun.  The beach, however, was charging $8 per person for admittance and the sun was nowhere in sight.  So we settled for this grassy area which was not a bad compromise as it allowed us to play frisbee and watch the ducks.

DSC04101 DSC04105

Speaking of ducks, later that night, for their farewell dinner, we took everyone to Sun Wah for some rather phenomenal Peking Duck.

Jap Chae_488

This place is always super crowded with ridiculously long waits, even with reservations.

DSC04173Sun Wah

They recommend ordering the duck in advance to make sure they don’t run out.  The duck is then brought out whole and carved tableside.

Peking Duck

Peking Duck

You stuff the duck inside these little buns with some carrots, scallions, and hoisin sauce.

Sun wah

Nom nom.

Sunwah Duck

Thanks for coming out guys!  Can’t wait to visit you in Texas sometime soon 🙂

DSC04174 DSC04184

It appears I am behind on my updates so I am going to try to catch up this week!  Expect more posts soon 🙂


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One thought on “Windy City Welcome: Part 2 (Korean Edition)

  1. Susan says:

    Wow – congrats to Mikala and Kyle! That’s so great. Oh, and I like how your “simple” dinner features about 4 more dishes than mine would… haha. 🙂 Looks like you had a great visit with everyone! Now I need to get out there for some Peking Duck…

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