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A Critic Lauds Innovative Tacos in West Town

Plus another thinks Jeong elevates Korean cuisine

Momotaro
Momotaro
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Mike Sula discovers a trove of unique tacos at Arigato Market. The Japanese taqueria and butcher shop specializes in “American-style” tacos with Asian influences. Hearty options include Japanese curry and pork tonkatsu wrapped in flour tortillas. Other choices, such as a cheeseburger taco and a tomato-meatball risotto taco, “invite indiscriminate wolfing” and “could credibly be placed in the category of stoner food.” On the whole, “most of the tacos are well-balanced innovations that borrow from seemingly disparate cultures and cuisines” and they won’t be found anywhere else in Chicago, if not the world. [Reader]

Jeong takes Korean food to new heights. Ariel Cheung enjoys a meal at the highly anticipated West Town restaurant from Dave Park and is delighted from start to finish. Tteokbokki — “chewy, spicy, tangy” stir-fried rice cakes — is a memorable dish, as is mackeral sashimi cured in a citrus-genmaicha brine and plated around a pool of sesame-gochujang dressing. Braised short rib touts a “nice crusty exterior and smart pairings of a light brown-butter carrot veloute and an airy rice puff,” while duck confit is “drier than you’d expect, but in a way that lends choice texture to the meat and contrasts nicely with the rich gochujang-duck jus and kabocha squash.” Desserts are all winners but the rice pudding impresses the most “thanks to its rainbow of flavors that seem to evolve with each bite.”

The Bamboo Room, the offshoot bar located within Three Dots and a Dash, puts the spotlight on “high-end rums and innovative cocktails,” writes Cheung. House daiquiris are a focal point and include a rhum agricole blanc daiquiri that’s a “refreshing blend of sweetness and high-octane chutzpah.” The large-format Missionary’s Downfall — Don Q single-barrel rum, Don Pancho eight-year rum, peach, mint, pineapple, and honey — is served in a carved-out pineapple and “stays light on the palate.” Among the modern tiki cocktails, the Tall Drink in a Short Glass is a play on the iconic Wray & Ting and features Jaimican rum, Espadín mescal, jerk spice, and a house version of Ting soda. [Modern Luxury]

Gene Kato is putting his mark on Momotaro. The former Sumi Robata Bar owner has “ramped up the robata-yaki component of the Momotaro menu” with items like “particularly flavorful” grilled quail served with a soft-poached quail egg, writes Phil Vettel. Kato’s abalone is also a “revelation” and the lamb chops are “marinated with a complex miso paste that brings out the meat’s sweetness.” Cold dishes include a “beautifully presented” oyster surrounded by a dashi and vinegar jelly, cucumber slices, and caviar. On the sushi side, Shigeru Kitano offers daily specials, such as “pristine” tuna collar, and Hokkaido hotate, a “gorgeous scallop topped with sea urchin and salmon roe.” To finish, the Omiyage pairs fried pineapple pie with pineapple sorbet. Momotaro was already a “remarkable restaurant prior to Kato’s arrival” but Vettel hopes this “serendipitous pairing of chef and concept lasts for a long time.” [Tribune]

Le Colonial has a new home but the experience is still excellent according to Graham Meyer. The ambiance “remains transporting” with indoor plants, white tablecloths, and uniformed servers while the menu has been slightly revamped. Ca tim nuong is an eggplant dish, “grilled to warm-blanket consistency,” that shows how to “flaunt the uniqueness of an individual from the menagerie of vegetables.” Another favorite are the pork ribs, “covered in a Vietnamese dry rub and texturally contrasted with toasted peanuts.”

Joanne Trestrail sits down to lunch at three sushi spots. The food at Roka Akor is “stellar, with execution going well beyond careful to the upper reaches of artful.” The bento-style meals are “not only a bargain but also a great way to sample the kitchen’s refined offerings.” Robata grill items are also standouts: Lamb cutlets with Korean spices are “for the record books, as is a succulent slab of lightly glazed pork belly with pickled radish.”

Sushi Dokku “continues to please long-timers and first-timers with great sushi in unpretentious surroundings.” The sprawling menu “covers all the basics and then some” and the space is “as approachable as your friendly neighborhood place but with a much bigger selection of excellent sushi, served simply.” At Sushi-San, “the ambiance and décor are young and fun, but the sushi is serious.” Start with “excellent” charcoal-grilled shishito peppers or splurge on roasted lobster with lime soy glaze. [Crain’s]

Sushi-san

63 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654 Visit Website

Arigato Market

1407 West Grand Avenue, , IL 60642 (312) 265-0966 Visit Website

Momotaro

820 West Lake Street, , IL 60607 (312) 733-4818 Visit Website

Roka Akor

456 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654 312 477 7652 Visit Website

Le Colonial

937 N Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611 312 255 0088 Visit Website

Sushi Dokku

823 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 455-8238 Visit Website

Three Dots and a Dash

435 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 610-4220 Visit Website

Jeong

1460 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60642 (312) 877-5016 Visit Website

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