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OON Completely Misses; Sumi Robata Bar's Grill Shines

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Photo: Mark Much

Amy Cavanaugh writes that there's no room in the crowded West Loop for OON, whose "Asian flavors can't seem to result in a cohesive dish." Everything is a disaster, from the chilled udon that's a "pile of gluey noodles" and a "clash of flavors" to the "chewy, overcooked" octopus. BBQ tofu tastes like "pure smoke" while foie pho is a "flavorless" bowl of noodles in a "one-note" broth. Even dessert fails to execute, with the spiced doughnuts "raw in the middle and completely unappetizing." Cavanaugh recommends you spend your money at any one of the other great options in the neighborhood. [TOC]

Sumi Robata Bar showcases chef Gene Kato's work on the robata grill, where he's a "virtual virtuoso." Phil Vettel grabs a seat at the bar and tries a pair of scallops, their "sweet richness heightened by drizzled ohba butter," and lamb chops and chicken thighs that "show off precision cooking and pristine flavors." Beef tongue is a "revelation" that's "remarkably tender yet full-flavored" while sashimi slices of madai with ponzu and ginger "pack a surprising amount of flavor." To finish, soy milk panna cotta with tofu skin, yuzu curd and candied soybeans is a "yummy, light treat." [Trib]

Lao 18 is the worst of Tony Hu's restaurants according to Mike Sula. The greatest hits menu "fails to contribute something significant to Chicago" and dishes are "unevenly replicated" from the originals. The Three Chili Chicken is "overburdened and sogged down by an abundance of sticky-sweet syrup;" chunks of "underfried, greasy" sole fillet lack peppercorns; and mushy eggplant drowns in an "underspiced, candied glop." The non-Sichuan dishes are also "executed with a similarly disturbing lack of finesse" as scallion pancakes with pork belly are "undercooked batter enveloping unidentifiable fillings," and ham and shrimp fried rice "seems like something native to an assisted living center." While it may be the best Chinese spot in River North, it still falls far below expectations. [Reader]

Sumi Robata Bar

702 N Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 988-7864 Visit Website

OON Restaurant

802 W Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607 312 929 2555

Lao 18

18 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60654 312 955 8018