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A Critic Applauds the ‘Soulful’ Fusion at a Filipino-Cuban Hotspot

Plus Bingo Tea excites with cheese tea and Malaysian fare

Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Bayan Ko’s fusion of Filipino and Cuban cuisine makes it one of Chicago’s best new restaurants according to Maggie Hennessy. The food is a “culinary representation of the real-life partnership between husband-and-wife team Lawrence Letrero and Raquel Quadreny,” and the flavors “play together beautifully and occasionally collide on a single plate.” Lumpia shatters to reveal “moist, aromatic ground pork and matchstick-thin veggies” while “exemplary” adobo chicken wings are coated in a vinegary-soy glaze. Ropa vieja, a traditional Cuban dish, yields black beans, plantains, and “succulent shreds” of fatty brisket. And for dessert, halo-halo is a “rich, salty-sweet delight that’s impossible to describe within the limits of the English language.” In the end, Hennessy writes that Bayan Ko “represents soulful second-generation cooking at its finest.” [Time Out]

Bingo Tea Malaysian Café brings cheese tea and Southeast Asian flavors to Argyle Street. Mike Sula explores the menu and finds a number of intriguing options. Roti canai, a paratha and curry combo, “turns out to be an ideal partner for one of the tall, creamy teas,” while Malay rojak is a sweet-savory fruit salad covered in soy-chili sesame dressing. There are noodle dishes aplenty but the pan mee stands out the most for its depth: Flat noodles mingle with fish balls, ground pork, shrimp, and dried anchovy and served with a chicken-anchovy broth. On the beverage front, fruit teas, milk teas, and honey drinks are all fully customizable and can be topped with the restaurant’s signature “sea salt milk foam.” [Reader]

Otto Phan has “brought great sushi to Chicago” with his omakase restaurant Kyoten. Jeff Ruby raves about the experience and says it’s the first time in ages a chef delivers “exactly what he promised.” The large-grain rice is seasoned with aged red vinegar and handles lean tuna’s “delicate oils better than what we’re used to.” Other luxuries include amadai dabbed with caviar and mascarpone; marinated red snapper fashioned into a rose; and smoked skipjack tuna with daikon-ponzu sauce. The tamago is also exceptional, “silky and moist, less an omelet than a sponge cake.” Ruby thinks if Michelin inspectors can overlook the lackluster atmosphere and high price tag, there should be stars in Kyoten’s future. [Chicago]


2507 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (312) 678-0800 Visit Website

Bayan Ko

1810 West Montrose Avenue, , IL 60613 (773) 698-6373 Visit Website