The wait’s almost over as after three years of planning, Bixi Beer — the Chinese-inspired brewpub from the owner of Owen & Engine — is opening this month. Owner and chef Bo Fowler has unveiled the menu for her new 200-seat brewery and restaurant at 2515 N. Milwaukee Avenue. For Fowler, a Korean immigrant who arrived in America as a child, the restaurant represents an opportunity to finally cut loose and cook the way she’s always wanted.
She is close to sharing an opening date for Bixi but the crew’s waiting to solve a few obstacles first. Fowler announced the restaurant in February 2015 and she’s battled swirling economic conditions as she opens her third restaurant. Down the street from Owen & Engine, her first restaurant — Fat Wily’s Rib Shack — continues to serve customers. At Bixi, they’ll brew beer on site and use ingredients found at Chinese restaurants. Fowler is notorious for sourcing quality, organic ingredients at her restaurants. She’ll continue those practices at her new spot.
For the last week or so, Bixi staff has invited friends and family to the restaurant. While they aren’t ready to release the opening date, when they do open the space will be fully operational. That includes a rooftop and 10-seat counter that will serve noodles until late into the night.
Fowler is particularly proud of her belt noodles which come dry or as soup. Known as biang biang noodles, they’re a Chinese staple and popular at places like Xi’an Famous Foods in New York. The hand-pulled noodles are wide and shaped like a belt. Bixi will serve them “Yibin” style or with a choice of protein in a broth.
Owen & Engine is known for its burger made with a special blend of short rib, chuck, and brisket with a British-style potato bap baked at the restaurant. Bixi will have its own burger served on a bao with Chinese bacon and five spice. There’s also a bao tribute to Chicago’s Italian beef with “Sichuan giardiniera.” Larger plates include an impressive-looking whole crispy fish. That’s only a sample of what to expect. Bixi brass has yet to share details about its beer which will complement the food from master brewer Eymard Freir.
The interiors are a mix of modern and classical. DC Comics writer Brian Azzarello (Wonder Woman) and artist Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets) are contributing design elements for the project. Named after the mythological Chinese turtle king (a dragon covered by a turtle shell), Bixi is about ready to roar in Logan Square giving Chicago one the city’s most unique restaurants. Read the menu and look for more coverage later this week.