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A Place by Damao Explores Bold New Flavors and More Reviews

Plus City Mouse stands out in the crowded West Loop

City Mouse
Barry Brecheisen

A Place by Damao is a joint unlike any other and offers promise of a “bright future for Chinese food” according to Mike Sula. There’s no orange chicken to be had here. Instead, Aishan “Damao” Zhong is making Sichuan specialties, such as soft spicy bean curd that’s hailed as a “luxurious pleasure.” Wontons bathe in a “volcanic full-bodied chicken-and-beef broth that’s clear evidence of the compatibility of pleasure and pain,” while crinkle-cut fries topped with a sweet and spicy secret sauce is akin to “crack that compels you to reach for these steadily and repeatedly until they’re gone.”

A dish of brain matter, seasoned with chile oil and fresh cilantro, might sound unappetizing but Sula hopes it “remains forever on the menu.” Spicy noodle soup is “deeply rich” and “harbors fatty slices of [braised beef] that fall apart at the touch of the tongue.” And a trio of barbecued meats features smoky, addictive bites worth digging into. For dessert, a teardrop cake is a “cool, Achatzesque reward for your palate’s previous exertions.” [Reader]

City Mouse is one of West Loop’s best newcomers, writes Kelsey Ogletree. Start with the whiskey-based Dead Work cocktail, a “supreme sipper for winter” that “warms from the inside out.” The Country Mouse appetizer is a ball of fried cheddar, topped with caviar, that “evokes the same feeling as wrapping yourself in a blanket hot out of the dryer.” The “star of the small plates” are the lemony Brussels sprouts, while the housemade lasagna — “tall, rich and handsome” — is “destined to become your new favorite carb.” To finish, individual-sized apple pies have a “biscuit-like crust and juicy hunks of apple, plus apple-caramel ice cream and candied cinnamon almonds on the side.” [CS]

Katana’s “flash-over-flavor philosophy” makes it a mixed bag. Graham Meyer checks out the Los Angeles import and finds nice items, like “very silky” wagyu kosho skewers” and “beefy and gently sweet” short ribs, but also some misfires. The “disappointing” White Lotus maki arrives seared instead of raw, and the Carnival dessert, which is flambéed tableside, yields “wan-tasting chocolate, airy semifredo, and meringue, and dull pretzels.” Those having lunch can keep things affordable by ordering the bento box and optional add-ons for a meal that “squares satisfying with reasonable.” [Crain’s]

Katana

339 North Dearborn Street, , IL 60654 (312) 877-5544 Visit Website

City Mouse

311 N Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 764-1908 Visit Website

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