Auros (auros) wrote,
Auros
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foodpr0n: China Grill (Chicago, IL)

I'm out for YearlyKos, staying with my brother G~, and since he's saving me a bunch of money on hotel costs, I figured I'd buy him a nice dinner. This is a fusion place owned by the same managing group as Asia de Cuba, which has won a bunch of awards in SF... I found it on OpenTable.com, looking for something nice close to where we were going to see a taping of Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!, the NPR quiz show... I opened up the info on a few places, and noted the connection to someplace I knew about from SF, and figured, why not?

We were a party of five, and we basically got five "small" dishes (three appetizers, a salad, and a side), and then split three desserts. Xta and I also split some drinks. They serve everything with the assumption that you're planning to do the "family style" thing; each appetizer is the size of a small meal, and entrees are enough for at least two people.

* Honey Martini -- not actually a martini (why do they call anything in a conical glass a martini? a martini is gin and vermouth, dammit!), actually rum, honey, and soda; very simple, very tasty.

* "East Meets West" -- three kinds of rum (10 Cane, Meyer's Original Dark, and some flavored rum that was supposed to be part of the "East" concept?), sake, fresh grapefruit juice. The fresh grapefruit juice seemed to make this a bit bitter, until I had a sip with some spice on my palate already from the food; then it suddenly became absolutely delicious.

* spicy beef & scallion dumplings, with soy ginger sauce -- also with some salad (greens, some kind of sprouts, shredded carrot and red bell pepper). I think this was my favorite; dumplings are pretty basic Chinese, but these were just better, and something in the style of the sauce and the side salad was more Japanese.

* curried chicken satay, with chilled sesame noodles & crushed chili ponzu -- a good satay, with some nice cold noodle salad; nothing terribly earth-shattering, but nice.

* thai shrimp cakes, with cactus-mango salsa & black molé vinaigrette -- really interesting; I'm not a huge shrimp fan, but this was definitely tasty, and the sauces were novel.

* baby lettuce salad with grilled hearts of palm, marinated artichokes, warm tempura goat cheese & chinese apple vinaigrette -- excellent salad; a bit similar in concept to the salads at Bodeguita del Medio (which has a crusted goat-cheese salad, and a hearts-of-palm salad), but of course with a different (and very interesting) dressing.

* lobster mashed potatoes -- not actually very much lobster, but it didn't take much to impart a richness of texture and flavor... This was particularly good with the sauce from the dumplings (once the dumplings themselves were gone).

* Sauteed bananas in caramel sauce, in a caramel box. (It's interesting how certain concepts seem to work across different "fusion restaurant" concepts -- this dessert is very similar to Bodeguita's "Havana Bananas", and equally delicious. More emphasis on the caramel, rather than having nuts...)

* Chilled passionfruit souffle -- this was really kinda disappointing; it was just sort of vaguely fruity. I think it would've worked better if they'd just served it as a souffle (hot), rather than turning it into something closer to a mousse by chilling it.

* Chocolate mousse (dark on top, white on the bottom) with chocolate cookie and raspberry sauce -- excellent, if not particularly original. The raspberry sauce was particularly good.

* Chateau de Segur Sauternes -- very good, if heavy/syrupy for a sauternes. Leaves a nice butterscotchy aftertaste, and an almost buttery tactile impression (richness, not grease). Has some subtle fruity notes (maybe apricot? peach? pear?) beyond the basic sauternes light grapiness.

It came out to being quite reasonably priced, for the quality of what we got. But that will be all the fancy food I get on this trip. The rest will be out of the kitchen at the house, or cheap counters, or free convention-related food (I think Media Matters may be giving me snacks tomorrow evening). I really am trying to cut back on spending, but, eh, I wanted to treat G~ to something good.

The WaitWait taping was hysterical -- for whatever reason, this episode descended into the gutter early and never really found its way back out. I'm too tired to do it justice, just give a listen this Saturday.
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