Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Eating & Drinking In Chicago: Ramen to Duck Fat Fried Chicken

Our second lunch in Chicago was also at an Asian spot, the Slurping Turtle, a ramen restaurant that was established by famed Chef Takashi Yagihashi. Their website states the restaurant is intended to "... recreate for our guests Chef Takashi's childhood culinary experiences in Japan, the essence of Japanese Comfort Food. The turtle is a symbol of longevity in Japan. We invite you to join us in our quest for the Everlasting Noodle." It is a medium-sized restaurant, with some communal tables, a bar, and a second floor dining area. It has a casual and comfortable ambiance, perfect for the idea of comfort food.

The restaurant has a decent-sized Sake list, with options by the glass and bottle, with some interesting choices, and we opted for a 200ml can of the Nihon Sakari Nama Genshu Honjozo, a full-bodied and fresh Sake with lots of delicious umami, making it an excellent pairing with our various dishes.

When I later left the restaurant, I also noticed that they have a killer selection of Japanese whiskey atop their bar, including a couple 17 and 21 year old whiskies. If I had more time, I would have stopped at the bar to check out and taste some of their selections. It was an impressive array and if you love Japanese whiskey, the Slurping Turtle has you covered.

Their food menu has plenty of options, including: Snacks ($4-$11), such as Bao, Edamame and Beef Short Rib; Sashimi & Maki Rolls (most $8-$15); and Ramen/Rice Bowls ($14-$16). We started with the Hamachi Tacos ($11), a tartare of yellowtail with truffle-soy, set into a taro root shell. Plenty of bright citrus flavors, silky fish, with an umami kick and a crunchy shell with a mild vegetal taste. Delicious and nicely balanced.

We also ordered the Eel & Cucumber Roll ($9), which I failed to photograph, and it presented eight pieces of tasty eel rolls with the added crunch and juiciness of the cucumber, with a savory barbecue-like sauce. It was aesthetically pleasing as well as pleasing to the palate.

Wow!! The Duck Fat Fried Chicken ($9), with a salad, was amazing. Each chicken chunk, which was on the bone, was crusted in a crunchy, delectable coating which will haunt your palate. And the chicken itself was succulent and flavorful, making for a killer combo with the coating. Duck fat certainly is a great way to fry many things, like French fries, and with this chicken, it elevated it to another level. If you go to the Slurping Turtle, you MUST get an order of this fried chicken as it is just so damn tasty. One of my favorite dishes from my time in Chicago.

The Pork Belly Bao ($4 each or 3 for $11) was a very good choice, with plenty of tender and flavorful pork belly. A fine snack with a glass of Sake or Japanese whiskey.

The restaurant serves a variety of Ramen dishes, such as Classic Tokyo Shoyu, Tan Tan Ramen, and Shoyu Tofu Mushroom, with plenty of choices for extra toppings. The Spicy Miso Tonkotsu ($15) is a spicy dish, made with chicken, buttered corn, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, woodear mushrooms, and scallions. It was delicious, with plenty of umami, buttery notes, tender chicken, and a beautiful depth of flavor. Everything you want in a ramen.

If I return to Chicago, I will certainly return to the Slurping Turtle. It impressed me in a number of ways, and that Duck Fat Fried Chicken will remain in my memory for many years to come. It earns my highest recommendation.

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