By Rachel Tan
Nothing screams brunch and weekends like syrup, carbs and maple bacon. But just for once, take a pass on the omelets at Lou Mitchell’s or a short stack at The Original Pancake House, and let Takashi Yagihashi cook for you. The Chef/Owner of the Slurping Turtle is sharing a bit of his heritage, with a weekend do-it-yourself Bento Brunch.
A black and red lacquer box is divided into three, equal compartments, all contributing to a balanced meal from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. One compartment is for a choice of protein, like thinly-sliced short ribs or sashimi. The middle compartment usually houses sweets and pickled sides, and the last features a single serving of perfectly-cooked Japanese rice. Portions are generous and will not leave you craving dessert.
The sashimi slices are cleanly cut and an even thickness. With a selection of fresh salmon, tuna, whitefish and octopus, the meal is infused with color and flavor – none of that fishy aftertaste. Sweet potato fries moonlighting as glazed tempura sticks sprinkled with sesame seeds are a delectable finish. A hard shell adds a complementary crunch to the Japanese sweet potato’s denser, chalkier texture. A couple of slices of tamago – sweet Japanese omelets – are delicately made and well-portioned.
All-American sweet, doughy and dense brunch classics are hard to deny, but Slurping Turtle offers an equally tasty Japanese alternative. Textures may differ, but the flavors are truly one-of-a-kind, especially on a lazy weekend morning.
116 W. Hubbard St.
Editor’s Note: this is our final post for 2012…see you back here in January. Happy New Year!
Nearly every culture has its go-to winter comfort soup. The “Jewish penicillin” is matzo ball soup; Mexicans have their hominy-and-pork-jammed pozole, while the Poles are usually seen huddled over mammoth bowls of borscht this time of year. In the Vietnamese community, the beefy noodle soup known as pho (pronounced “fuh”) is ubiquitous in Chicago, especially along Argyle Street. I’ve had good pho as far away as Glendale Heights and Glen Ellyn, but for sheer convenience, it’s hard to beat a stroll along Argyle, where several good options beckon. Read More
For our final BotW for 2012 (can’t believe we started this feature almost a year ago), The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper is thinking seasonal, harvest ales. These are beers that are ready to drink. Right now. So go grab one, and tell a friend to join you for a taste of the season, as in fresh hops. Cheers to a happy new year.
What a delicious weekend this was. It started out on Friday, at Wicker Park’s brand new Oiistar. “Oii” is Korean for cucumber, and as the Korean-born chef/owner told us, he wants to be a rock star, but when you pronounce it, it should roll off the tongue like “oyster.” Whatever. The four ramens on the menu – all averaging about $14 – were just spot-on. The broths in at least two of them – the Oiimen, featuring pork loin; the Musclemen (pictured, above) housing mussels, fresh scallions and a handful of chili peppers – were heady, oil-slicked vats of unctuousness. The bonito miso in the latter gave it a salty, rich punch, while the spicy oil kept my mouth alive, all the better to appreciate his al dente, homemade noodles. Look out, Slurping Turtle (and from what I gather, Aviary as well; dying to try their ramen). Read More
I never really grew up with Buche de Noel, but I do remember the Kemp’s ice cream logs as a kid, does that count? I’m also no Martha Stewart, but I realize this holiday dessert is subject to creative interpretation. Apparently, the Hotel Sofitel thinks so, as it gears up for its 2nd annual “Holiday Rock & Roll” party Monday night, where seven of Chicago’s top pastry chefs will vie for bragging rights when it comes to who makes the coolest Yule Log in town.
Traditionally, the creation features yellow sponge cake and a chocolate ganache, but there will be a lot of jostling for creative license, since some of the city’s top toques are involved: Dana Cree (Blackbird), Amanda Rockman (Balena, The Bristol), Elissa Narow (Perennial Virant, Vie), Meg Galus (NoMI Kitchen), Thomas Raquel (Acadia), Nate Meads (RM Champagne Salon) and Cindy Schuman (Sepia) are the seven competitors; chefs from Stout Barrel House, Maison and Carnivale will be serving up savory “rolled” items to balance things out.
The event benefits Share Our Strength and runs from 6 – 8 p.m., with yours truly serving as MC and host; a panel of five seasoned judges will decide who wins. There’s going to be live music, courtesy of Rod Tuffcurls and The Bench Press, plus punch bowl cocktails and a little after party at the hotel’s Le Bar. Should make for a fun (and sweet) Monday night…all for just $35 on Eventbrite. Hope to see you there!
Usually, a brewer will be more than happy to let you know what’s inside the bottle. But this week’s pick – courtesy of the Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco – is a mystery. Even though they don’t tell you what’s inside their Christmas beer, The Hopleaf’s Michael Roper has a pretty good idea. Here’s wishing you a thirst-quenching holiday season. Cheers.