"It's been a little bit of a whirlwind," new Embeya executive chef Mike Sheerin says from the progressive Asian restaurant's kitchen prior to his first night of service. "I'm trying to figure out what's next."
What's next for Embeya, which will keep the same decor and name after being closed for the last two weeks following the dramatic exit of opening chef Thai Dang, is a "100 percent new menu" that doesn't veer too far from the original concept but focuses on all of Asia, rather than just the southeast Asian flavors the upscale West Loop spot was known for. Sheerin says the full dinner menu, which includes 20 new dishes, will be there for about a month and change frequently, won't be posted to Embeya's website or available to the media until Monday. Chicago magazine reports nine of the dishes, including glazed pork belly with roasted banana and fermented strawberries, as well as pork sausage from Tête Charcuterie with green garlic and braised pineapple. Sheerin and his brand-new staff are still working through the lunch menu.
Sheerin says he's known Embeya owner Attila Gyulai for "many years" and that the opportunity to be his new executive chef "came out of the blue." After deliberating with his Packed partner Aaron DiMaria, he decided to take the gig as the Hyde Park dumpling spot is still under construction. He says he will be at Embeya every day for the foreseeable future. "I hope this is a long-term relationship," he says. "The restaurant will evolve a lot over the next year."
For now, he says he can't go into more specifics on that evolution. But you can see the first stage when it reopens tonight.