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One Good Meal Sat Jan 02 2010
Seeking refuge from winter and holiday frenzy, I recently found paradise in Albany Park. Paradise is the name of both a Korean-run no-frills bath house and a sushi restaurant on the 2900 block of Montrose Avenue. A simple, clean meal of gomae (Japanese spinach salad) and nigiri seemed like the perfect way to cap a blissful afternoon of lounging in hot and cold pools, a sauna and steam room.
It turns out that the spa and restaurant have different owners, but in addition to sushi, the latter also boasts a selection of Korean dishes. I kept with my plan of mackerel and octopus nigiri, which were fine but unremarkable. Both vegetable and seafood udon proved little better than the instant udon I can buy at Asian markets around town.
Just when the food and the restaurant's Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack were getting me down, I sipped my first salubrious spoonful of Dae Gu Mae Un Tang, or spicy Korean fish soup. Luscious pieces of cod and slabs of tofu lay nestled beneath the leafy garnish in a seriously spicy broth flecked by gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes) and sliced jalapeño. If my time at the spa didn't clean out my pores, this steamy bowl surely did.
Paradise, the restaurant, is located at 2916 W. Montrose Ave., 773-588-1989.