Mike Sula is less than impressed with the dishes coming out of Imperial Lamian's kitchen. Although they look like "lumps of carcinogenic Play-Doh," he enjoys the xiao long baos because they contain the "requite pool of hot broth" and the flavors are "pretty good." Likewise, the lamian noodles are "consistently long, thin, snappy, and fresh," but are best ordered fried as they're "fattier, chewier, and breathe a hint of wok smoke." Other noteworthy dishes include a "flaky, moist" sea bass tossed with frizzled leeks and "lightly, subtly" glazed in plum and honey.
Starters are full of misses though, such as hot-and-sour soup that's a "$6 cup of corn starch" and golden mapo tofu that's "gimmicky" and bears "no resemblance to the classic Sichuanese dish." Things get even murkier on larger items. Crispy pork belly is served with an "insipid ballpark variety" of mustard while sliced New York strip is bathed in a "sticky-sweet chili-garlic sauce and has all the appeal of beef-flavored chewing gum." For dessert, egg tarts are "no more remarkable" than those found around town. In the end, Sula thinks having three head chefs at the restaurant has resulted in the menu being "more risk than reward." [Reader]
Annex offers cocktails from Julia Momose that are "nothing short of enchanting," writes Elizabeth Atkinson. The drinks are "artfully assembled," with "complex flavor profiles surpris[ing] you at every sip." The Chorus Girl, a turmeric-based concoction, is "easy to drink" but the Law-maker is "boozy, but not overpowering" and "smoother to sip than an old-fashioned." Atkinson praises the bar for "ingredients that stand out," like in the gin-and-sherry Disc Jockey that's "weird but definitely worth a try." Whatever you order though, she says it will be a "great finished product." [TOC]
Adamus is quietly putting out food that "sparkles" during lunch hour, according to Graham Meyer. Golden beet soup is "amplifie[d]" with flecks of herbs and spicy oil, and creamy zucchini soup, "rich and zingy from a balsamic scribble, even outjumps the high bar set by the beet." Caesar salad features "sleek" white anchovies "tasting so pleasant of their essence that you'd call them piscine rather than fishy," while "reasonably priced" sandwiches "measure several steps higher than baseline" and include a "many-flavored and -textured" chipotle chicken club. Service could use some improvement, but overall the restaurant makes for a solid midday meal. [Crain's]
At Osteria Trulli in Arlington Heights, chef Giovanni DeNegris is cooking up some tasty Southern Italian Favorites. Phil Vettel is enamored with the "marvelous blistered-crust" thin pizzas coming out of the wood-burning oven. The Trulli pie is "bold and briny," topped with capers anchovies and olives, and the burrata pizza is crowned with burrata and curls of the "finest mortadella [Vettel's] ever had." Zampina barese is also a must-try, "loaded with homespun flavor," while "huge" Adriatic prawns served with tagliolini is his favorite dish on the menu. "Simple and good" desserts include croccantino and a "mascaropone-rich" tiramisu. [Tribune]