Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bistro Pacific

With another week came another food outing with my lab mates. I had some grand ideas for this week, but the heat outside is really messing with my plans. First off, I've been trying to get everyone to go to The Soup Box because you can mix and match the soups which also happen to be quite delicious. However, I'm really the only person crazy enough to enjoy soup when it's upwards of 90 degrees outside. Another problem with the heat is that our regular radius of acceptable travel for lunch (lets say a half mile) gets drastically cut down. Within seconds of leaving the building our group became a bunch of old kvetches. So with these limitations, we didn't have so many options, but there were still some acceptable locations. Now while some people say the heart of Streeterville is Northwestern Memorial Hospital, I'd have to say that it's actually the Playboy building. If you walk all the way to the lake shore drive end of the building, you'll come across a quiet and elegant pan-asian restaurant called Bistro Pacific.

Without a reservation, our group of sweaty research technicians marched into Bistro Pacific and were taken in with open arms. We got sat in what seemed to be a decent sized room with lots of open tables. By the time we got up, most of the tables were full, but people seemed to still get in and out in an efficient manner. The crowd was interesting in that there were lots of businessmen in suits and then a few groups like us that seemed a little out of place in shorts and t-shirts. Normally I'd say this was an issue because the decor of the restaurant was slightly nicer than our attire, but for lunch I believe anything is fair game. The service was pretty good. We were waited on right away, and our food came out promptly.

As far as the deal goes, it's not like they have one item, but rather that they have a large selection of their normal menu at a significantly cheaper price for lunch. Most entrees were $7-$10 and they all came with soup. Basically, everything was a dollar or two cheaper for lunch. So as far as a deal it wasn't really that fantastic, but they did have a Bento Box that was very comparable to the one at OYSY for $10 (compared to the $12 special at OYSY). So they may not have had a super special per se, but they had cheaper options than others places.

One final logistical note is that if you're order is below $10 (which can happen with their lunch special), they won't accept credit card.

The Food
As I said before we started off with some soup, but the kicker was that you could choose Hot and Sour if you didn't want Miso. As a big Hot and Sour soup fan, I was elated with this choice. The soup was thick and spicy like I expected with a large amount of tofu and bamboo shoots.

 The Miso Soup

The Hot and Sour Soup

For my entree I ordered the Bie Bim Bop (mostly because it was just fun to say). It was a large bowl of steamed veggies and strips of beef over a bed of brown rice ($1 upgrade from white rice) in a sweet and spicy sauce. It was very similar to the Buddha Bowl from Crisp without the fried egg, but the ingredients were much better and more properly prepared. The veggies, although steamed, still maintained a nice texture, and the beef was tender and spicy. Kristy ordered the Sweet and Sour Chicken. I expected a plate of deep fried, unidentifiable lumps like you usually get with this order, but her chicken was only lightly breaded. The sauce was more than just the bottled, overly thick and rich sweet and sour sauce, and had a nice lightness to it for a lunch dish. Austin got the Basil Fried Rice, which I didn't try, but he claimed was some of the best fried rice he'd had in a long time. I'll try and bring Fried Rice Guru, Jeff Schneider, back here to give you guys a connoisseur's opinion. Finally, Amanda ordered Bento Box 1 with Teriyaki Chicken, a California Roll (6 pieces), and a Cucumber Salad. Although the box didn't have as many components as at OYSY, the items were seen to be universally better. Most importantly, the sauce and quality of the chicken were far better. Also, it came with rice to make it more of a complete dish. So rather than try and overfill you with average food, they used a little less food of a higher quality and clearly won over Amanda.

 The Bie Bim Bop

The Sweet and Sour Chicken

The Basil Fried Rice

Bento Box 1

For a lunch place this is a pretty nice spot. There was a nice quiet ambiance and some pretty tasty food. At the same time that the food was good, it doesn't really blow you away. I'd say this is a nice standard place to have to go to, especially if you're taking company out to lunch because of the look of the place and the variety of choices. I'm giving Bistro Pacific 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

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