Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sunda

Location: 110 W Illinois
Cost: Probably around $60 per person

With my recent travels, I've started to appreciate how other cities handle the winter. In Minneapolis everyone seems practically indifferent to the winter. One of my interviewers said that he still rides his bike in to work every day, just with snow tires instead. In Cleveland, there are so many hills around the city and such poor snow control that people seem to hide in their houses. In New York, the majority of people I know have enough beer around to keep them warm at all times.

Chicago is equally unique. We more or less hibernate for a third of the year (except last year when it was oddly warm). Sometimes it gets so cold out that my roommate Jeremy has to wear two ugly hoodies. Still, all around the city, options start popping up to keep you busy, as long as it involves eating and drinking. It becomes really tempting to find a restaurant to settle into for a long night of dinner and drinks. Sunda is in on this game and invited me to try out their new winter menu options. So my friend Ka and I hit it up the other night.

Logistics
Sunda is right in the heart of River North on Illinois between La Salle and Clark. The restaurant has a ton of seating options between the large bar and lounge up front, the tables and community seating throughout the dining room, and the sushi bar along the other side. There's a real trendy vibe the second you walk in, and I could've counted the people over the age of 40 on one hand. It was probably too cool for me, but that was alright. I think you'll need a reservation on most nights too.

Our service was fantastic, and I noticed that in general, the people around us were being treated the same. Our waiter explained each dish thoroughly, and I noticed the executive chef was taking time to visit with a lot of the diners. The cost can get up there a bit. Our meal would have been around $60 per person, but you could easily spend much more if you felt inclined.

The Food
Our appetizer course included a Hamachi Tartare and the Kale and Seaweed Salad. Ka said these were two of her favorites. The hamachi tasted fresh and had a nice topping of salty roe. The sauce (mostly ponzu and wasabi) was well balanced with the rest of the dish. Ka wished that we would've gotten more wontons to eat with. The salad was really crispy and salty. If you like kale, you'll really like this one.

 The Hamachi Tartare

 The Seaweed and Kale Salad

The next dish, my favorite, was the Kimchi Soup. It came with big chunks of tofu, pork belly, and bok choy. The soup had a rich, heartwarming broth, and the pork was delicate enough to break up with a spoon.

 The Kimchi Soup

After that we dove into the Duck Congee. For those of you that don't know, congee is like a porridge. They did this special little rice dome over the dish and puffed in a smoke that exploded out when we broke in. The porridge was thick and the duck kept things rich.

The Duck Congee

Our last two items were the Crab Puffs and the Wagyu Beef Roti. The puffs were claws with remnants of crab meat, surrounded by a shrimp mousse and then deep fried. I liked the crab, but the mousse had an odd texture. The roti had a flaky, buttery flat bread and plenty of tender beef slices. With the crispy slaw on top, it became a pretty rustic and tasty sandwich (although, I'm sure my friend Supreet would've gone into some diatribe about the meaning of the word roti).

The Crab Puffs

 The Wagyu Beef Roti

Overall
Despite being surrounded by many other options, Sunda has been making plenty of noise in the Chicago food scene for some time now. Their new winter options are well suited for the season. My favorites were the kimchi soup and the wagyu beef roti, but I suggest you make that call for yourself.

Sunda on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. Nice. I thought you guys had a family tradition of having Chinese food on Christmas so I was looking forward to a review of the place you guys tried this year.

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  2. Oh, we do. This meal was actually a little bit before Christmas. Fear not, we still went to Phoenix this year.

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