Saturday, July 26, 2014

Buffet Without Crowds

On the sixth floor at the 900 N. Michigan Shops (which houses Bloomingdale's) there is a pan-Asian restaurant called Baisi Thai.  The spacious restaurant is tucked away from the crowd-infested sidewalks of Michigan Avenue, has a great view of the lake, and has a menu full of options.  It is always quiet when I go there for the lunch buffet and there is never a line.  If you opt for the buffet (which includes dishes such as lo mein, fried rice, sauteed vegetables, crab rangoon, oyster beef, pork and bamboo shoots, simple sushi roll pieces, teriyaki chicken, vegetable tempura, shrimp tempura, kimchi, salads, and fruit) you have the option of starting off with miso, sweet & sour, or egg drop soup, and finishing off with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.  I took my mother there a couple times and she really likes that many of the dishes seem to have Korean influences.  If you need a fast, no-fuss, quiet and pleasant lunch, Baisi Thai is definitely an option.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ruxbin Rocks

Recently, I revisited Ruxbin for a gastronomic respite.  Back in February I dined at Chef Edward Kim's first Chicago restaurant and fell in love with the food, decor, and ambience.  I was a teensy bit disappointed that Chef Ed wasn't there but at his other restaurant Mott Street.  This time, Chef Ed was at the kitchen helm, which made this meal even more fulfilling.
My buddy Hanna and I started off with the beets and labne, which were complemented by orange, pecans, and white anchovy.  Hanna ordered the copper river salmon with fried green tomato, lambs quarter pesto, walnut, red tropea onion, asparagus, black imperial rice, and creme fraiche.  The salmon was wild caught, and you could taste and see the difference: the color was a bright orange.  I ordered the farmers market raviolo, comprised of hand cut pasta, market vegetables, ricotta, and soft-fried egg.  It was the most beautiful dish I had ever seen and eaten.  I was going to town with all the food to the point that Hanna teased me, "Maybe you shouldn't come here on a date."  I wasn't eating the beautiful dish in the most beautiful manner.
We finished our wonderful meal with black forest cake, which was deconstructed chocolate semi-freddo, cake, marshmallow fluff, cherries, and hazelnuts.  Our time at Ruxbin was one of the top culinary experiences we have ever had in Chicago.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Get Me Some Meat at GOGI

The other night, Flo and I ventured waaay up north to the West Ridge/West Rogers Park area to dine at gogi. There's been much buzz and acclaim from the likes of Chicago Magazine since this traditional Korean bbq place opened up last year.  We were eager to experience it for ourselves.

To start off, we imbibed on some makgeolli (rice wine) made by Slow City Brewery, located nearby in Niles.  (It is the first brewery of its kind in the US.)  An array of colorful and fresh banchan was laid out before us -- which made me oh so happy.  Then the big dishes we ordered (and could not finish) came out one by one. Flo lit up when she saw bibimnaengmyun (spicy noodles) on the menu and had to get it. I had to get the gamjatang (potato stew with pork and perilla), because I had never ordered it from a restaurant before and was wondering why Matt Rodbard (co-author of future book Koreatown, USA) was always on the hunt for some good gamjatang.  
And since we were at gogi, which means meat in Korean, we had to get some meat.  We actually ordered spicy chicken meat even though the noodles and soup we ordered were also pretty spicy.  Instead of cooking it ourselves at the table, which is the novelty of Korean bbq, we had the cooks in the kitchen do it for us. Everything tasted great and we were quite stuffed and satisfied by meal's end.
Gogi on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chicagoans Don't Go to Navy Pier

Navy Pier is a top tourist trap in Chicago.  Unless you have a kid to take to their renowned children's museum, there really is no reason for a Chicagoan to make it out there.  My buddy Elliot came down from the burbs to see me and he wanted to go there for some reason.  We had some lunch at the dingy Billy Goat Tavern; he had a double burger and I had a hot dog.  There was a station to add your own fillings, and I was disappointed that I couldn't get a full Chicago dog that was "dragged through the garden" or with "the Chicago 7," which includes mustard, onions, relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, pickle spear and celery salt.  Later we walked inside the building and saw the America's Dog in the food court.  They have a few locations throughout Chicago and their hot dogs taste so much better.  I recognize that Billy Goat's specialty is not their dog, but rather their "cheezborger."
After we ate, Elliot suggested we ride the ferris wheel, which I had never done before.  A full rotation is 7 minutes (but feels faster) and costs $7 per person.  I didn't realize that the Pier had other carnival rides such as those crazy flying swings, merry-go-round, and a mini drop ride like the Giant Drop at Six Flags.  We then paid the $25 (!!) parking garage fee and moved on.
Billy Goat Tavern on Urbanspoon