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Vettel Praises Next; BellyQ is a Hot Scene; More

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Photo: Next
Photo: Next

Phil Vettel gives the Kyoto menu at Next four stars and says it's the best since Paris. He calls the scholarship behind it "astonishing at times" and is impressed by the hassun tray of Japanese surf-and-turf presented as a "fall diorama:" colorful maple leaves and twigs "suggest a Midwest forest floor" and scattered among them are fish and fowl. Visually, the braised abalone and fresh abalone liver is a "very pretty presentation" and the sashimi trio has one of Vettel's companions saying, "The only way this salmon could be fresher is if you were a bear." Equally impressive is the grilled ayu served with dishes of wasabi leaf puree and a whipped egg-yolk emulsion, while roasted figs in a sweetened soy-milk custard with deep-fried yuba strays from authenticity but is every bit as good. [Tribune]

Julia Kramer weighs in on BellyQ and thinks it's a big hit. The "delicately crispy" seafood pancake with a "lovely nest" of ceviche of salmon and calamari is a subtle and sophisticated dish to "appreciate more than to crave," but the Thai-style fried chicken is "habit-forming," full of "supremely juicy and flavorful meat." The "intensely, absurdly fatty" lamb ribs stuffed into steamed buns with crispy slaw is a "pure gustatory pleasure" while creamy spinach with bits of "funky" Chinese sausage and quinoa is one of the best items on the menu. For dessert, vanilla soft-serve topped with fruity shaved ice, lime-basil seeds or yuzu tapioca pearls is a "cool-but-creamy, rich-but-refreshing delight." [TOC]

Masaki dreams big and Mike Sula writes that it could very well realize those ambitions. He opts for the five-course menu and finds that the quality of fish "stands up to what's served at Katsu and Arami." A sushi course consists of "fatty, buttery, premium belly cuts" of salmon, yellowtail, and tuna next to three pieces of nigiri, while a "delicate" piece of black cod bathes in a "richly dark, practically meaty" miso broth. The final course of seared Wagyu beef with a baton of Asian pear and a bowl of rice supporting a raw cylindrical formation of beef cradling a raw quail egg is "suggestive and bizarre but delicious." Dinner is finished off with house-made sorbets wrapped in nori and served with fresh berries and meringue. [Reader]

At Jellyfish, the food is fresh but the service is "needlessly chilly." Melissa Wiley enjoys a bowl of miso that contains more shiitake mushrooms than she "thought possible for it to hold" before moving onto the sushi. The fresh signature kiss of fire leaves her "longing for more" while the spicy salmon provides a "savory example of a seasoned chef making the most of our favorite classic roll." Just about the only drawback is the inattentive servers and slow service, which overall makes for a promising start. [Chicagoist]


1009 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611