West Loop, Chicago
After a weekend of cooking just about everything from scratch, this was my reprieve.
There is something about sitting at the bar that I relish as a couple of adults.
Childless, close to the liquor, quick and to the point. I get to be a part of the action which feels like a trusted sign of respect, while simultaneously I get to enjoy the voyeuristic nature of watching my food and drink prepared before my very eyes. It almost feels a little naughty even. There is nothing better sometimes than eating at the bar.
Don't get me wrong though, I'm a big fan of an oversized booth tucked away in a secluded corner, or even still, flaunting a sundress on the patio for all to see. But there is a time and a place for everything and this was most certainly the time to be front row, no-nonsense, ready for a few plates and some cocktails.
This place sits right beneath the L tracks of the Morgan stop on the Green line and used to be something I passed on the regular. So it was extra satisfying to finally go inside and eat. They offer a tasting experience for $40 that we simply could not pass up since it included a little bit of everything we wanted.
Known for their Okonomiyaki we each got a variation of this savory Japanese pancake. The rough translation is "have it your way" (okonomi) "griddled" (yaki) and they often include cabbage, seafood or meat, a host of other toppings, and a healthy drizzle of kewpie mayo.
The version I went for was octopus and had flavors that almost made me think of barbecue sauce. It was amazing. Watching the bonito flakes dance atop this pancake was entertainment enough.
We both left more than stuffed and with food to take home.
Definitely do not skip dessert.
Those mochi donut holes had the most delicious icing. I can't decide if the coffee or matcha-citrus was better. Go with friends. Get them all. Report back. We enjoyed them with a small glass of Amaro Nonino, which a friend turned us onto recently. Highly recommend.
The real star though must be their shaved ice or kakigōri. We saw mounds (and I mean mountains) of this stuff coming out of the kitchen and it looked epic.
GAIJIN TASTING EXPERIENCE
(Check out their full menu here)
FIRST: KOMBU MARINATED VEGETABLES celery / fermented green beans / radish / sesame
SECOND: SHORT RIBS —OR— VEGGIE YAKISOBA -OR- BOK CHOY boneless short ribs with smoked shoyu / scallions / furikake rice OR veggie yakisoba with spinach / mushrooms / sweet corn / cabbage / scallions / carrots / sauce / sesame
THIRD: OSAKA-STYLE OKONOMIYAKI your choice: shrimp, octopus, pork, tofu, chicken, beef or smoked copi* (add-ons, 3 dollars each: egg*, bacon (5), udon, crispy rice, cheese, kim-chi)
FOURTH: MOCHI DONUT HOLES your choice: matcha-citrus, strawberry, coffee, pandan-coconut, chocolate or kinako