Ramen & Rabbis

It was a typical Friday night. Or at least that’s what we were going for. We had a busy weekend ahead, so when we were planning out last Friday evening, we were shooting for as “low key” as we could get.

With the cold (albeit kind of off-and-on) Chicago temperatures, ramen just sounded good. Oiistar in Wicker Park, a ramen joint we had gone to together once before, felt like the right spot to satiate our craving. Morgan ordered his favorite, the Oiimen classic, which includes braised pork belly, ground pork, bamboo, wood ear mushroom, bean sprouts, a soft boiled egg, and chili garlic oil. Mandy tried something new, the Chaldomen, made up of brisket, ground pork, kimchi, bean sprouts, a soft boiled egg, and cilantro in tomato broth. Our verdict in this case: it paid off to play it safe. Morgan’s dinner hit the spot by both of our standards, and Mandy’s was just fine (a little greasy, but with good flavor). Morgan took home both leftovers.

After dinner, we thought it would be fun to keep it casual and grab a quick drink at one of those combination bar/liquor stores (slashies? taprooms?) that Chicago is known for. Enter Loop Tavern in West Town, a cash-only packaged good store that smells like a urinal and whose niche market seems to be 60+ year-old, blue-collar men. Although we wanted nothing more than to fit in, we didn’t. About half a drink in, we were approached by a Chilean rabbi who wasn’t observing the Sabbath because his daughter was in town (but not with him at the bar). After buying a round of drinks for the bar regulars, he approached us because we stood out from the crowd. He was curious as to how we, clearly not of the prime demographic of the bar, ended up there, and we were curious as to how he, clearly not of the prime psychographic of the bar, ended up there. We exchanged conversation, finished the drinks he bought us (as he sipped on a Bud heavy), and eventually left the loud Latin American music of Loop Tavern behind us.

A chill Friday night? Absolutely. A typical Friday night? We can only aspire to such.

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