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Chicago’s First Asian-Inspired Brewpub Confounds a Critic

Plus Passerotto is an exciting addition to Andersonville

Bixi Beer
Barry Brecheisen

Bixi Beer’s broad Asian-inspired menu “just leads to a lot of confusion,” writes Mike Sula. Though the “belt noodle Yibin style” — Shanxi-province biang biang noodles tangled “adaptably well” with funky black beans, pickled mustard greens, chopped peanuts, and Sichuan spice — is “one of the best bowls of pasta [he’s] eaten all year,” it shows a “blatant disregard for borders” as well. The same goes for the scarfable “Chicago beef bao,” steamed buns holding shaved prime rib and giardiniera.

“Textures also seem to be a problem” with dumplings. Kimchi mandu arrives “pasty and undercooked, filled with mealy curry-spiced chicken that tasted as if it had been murdered by five-spice powder.” Pork-and-shrimp pot stickers perform better and are served with a “pleasingly acidic” dipping sauce. There’s a burger, of course. It’s “one of the more winning mashups” but “nowhere is the deliberate blurring of cuisines so stark.” The patty is seasoned with five-spice and sandwiched between toasted bao alongside melted American cheese and sweet Chinese bacon. A “monstrous, messy” chocolate sundae, made with marshmallow fluff, peanut butter fudge, and Sichuan peanuts, rounds out the somewhat mixed experience. [Reader]

Owner and chef Jennifer Kim is casting a spell on diners with an eclectic mix of Korean-Italian fare at Passerotto. Jeff Ruby praises the food as “next-level stuff” and “can’t remember a better treatment of raw ingredients” than Kim’s composition of yellowfin tuna with heirloom corn, hijiki, Thai chili, and crisp potato slivers. Korean fried chicken “gets a little spark” from pickled cauliflower and Calabrian chili oil, while tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) in lamb ragu is a “more satisfying version of gnocchi in which the noodle and the sauce finally compete on a level plane.” Among the large-format dishes, the sous-vide galbi short ribs are an “instant classic,” basted in a concentrated glaze “that’s like a superhero version of the marinades you’re used to at Korean barbecues.” Overall, Passerotto is living up the buzz and has “brought more infectious enthusiasm to Andersonville than the space’s previous half-dozen occupants combined.” [Chicago]

Monnie Burke’s is an “affable” neighborhood spot with an “impressive” patio. Maggie Hennessy takes a seat out back at the Pilsen newcomer, which is “draped in bald-bulb lights and dotted with planters.” The food “leans comfy American and meaty, with a solid offering of vegetable-focused shareables.” There’s “unctuous” roasted bone marrow topped with house-made giardiniera that “recall[s] a concentrated, fancy Italian beef sandwich when smeared on accompanying grilled planks of focaccia.” The best dish, though, features “tender” black mussels luxuriating in a lemongrass-scented red curry broth. Missteps include an overcooked, dry burger but things finish “on a high note” thanks to a key lime and blueberry trifle. [Time Out]

BiXi Beer

2515 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 904-7368 Visit Website

Passerotto

5420 North Clark Street, , IL 60640 (708) 607-2102 Visit Website

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