Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Itto Sushi

These days it seems like you can find sub-par sushi anywhere and everywhere--in every grocery store, food store, and practically every block!  However, these days the rage is about the fancy, classy, and upscale sushi restaurants such as the revamped Japonais by Morimoto, Momotaro, Jellyfish, and more.  I would think these contemporary places are not really authentic, but rather accommodating to the American palate.

Last weekend, I had sushi at Itto Sushi, in Lincoln Park with my pal Hiromi.  It was the first time eating there and remarkably, the first time eating sushi with a Japanese person.  (Why is it that I've met or seen very few Japanese-Americans during my lifetime?  We briefly discussed the probable possibility of how a lot of the Japanese immigrants may have gone back to Japan.)  Anyway, this sushi spot reminded me of the well-known Korean barbecue institution Cho Sun Ok.  The space was cramped, the servers all spoke little English, and the line was out the door.  Japanese and non-Japanese patrons packed the small place.

Hiromi found out using fluent Japanese that the sushi chef had lived in Chicago for forty years.  Wow-- a veteran who undoubtedly has more experience and different techniques than the newer and younger sushi chef counterparts in Chicago.  If you want to keep away from the glitzy yuppie sushi joints popping up in the city, head over to Itto.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mangia! Mangia!

The girls and I braved the elements and made the trek over to Coco Pazzo for Hannah's birthday dinner.  We walked in to a beautiful, colorful spread of antipasti--it looked absolutely amazing!  As we sat down and began to thaw, we perused over the menu.  None of us were Italian language or cuisine experts, so there were some ingredient terms we weren't so sure about.  Nevertheless, we all made our selections and enjoyed some delicious bread served to us in style.
Hannah enjoyed her linguine alle vongole with a pomodoro sauce substitution.  She was worried about the white wine sauce clashing with her red wine.  Kendra devoured her cappelletti di zucca (basically pumpkin-filled ravioli), and I inhaled my chitarrine nere (squid ink pasta).  We were all satisfied with our selections, although I can't imagine one could go wrong here.
For dessert we shared the crostata di mele (apple tart) and the fondente al cioccolato (flourless chocolate cake with cappuccino gelato).  The food was great, the service was attentive, and the company even better--it was certainly a happy birthday dinner!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Yummy Doughnuts

Henry and I met up for some drinks at Davanti Enoteca, which is part of the Francesca's Restaurant Group.  We had a hankering for some sweetness and wandered over to the attached Glazed & Infused, which is also in the Francesca's family.  All the doughnuts in the showcase looked tempting and decadent, making it a bit of a challenge to narrow down our choices.  Although extremely popular, we passed up the maple bacon long john and went for the cranberry orange glazed and chocolate4.  We brought them back to our drinks waiting for us at the Davanti bar, where the bartender happily supplied us with plates and silverware to enjoy our yummy treats. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Americanized Asian Food

Big Bowl is another American chain restaurant in the Gold Coast that offers a commercialized interpretation of Asian food--the other being RA Sushi.  Since my buddy had a Lettuce Entertain You giftcard, we decided to give it a chance.  To start off, we shared the chicken lettuce wraps appetizer.  The spoonable chicken mixture was way too salty, and I would have preferred some rice rather than the airy packing styrofoam crispy rice noodles.

My friend ordered the Panang curry chicken, which was okaaay, but also salty and unimpressive.  My buddy and I love scallops and was excited to see a few dishes on the menu containing them.  We asked our waiter what was most popular and without missing a beat he said the black peppered sea scallops.  Okay, then.  We ordered that and thought it was decent or satisfactory along with the other dishes.  If anything, this place is an Asian-inspired eatery, not a place for ethnic culinary authenticity.