The menu at 527 Cafe integrates both Taiwanese and Korean dishes: everything from Korean-style beef tacos to kimchi-fried rice. Specialty dishes often come with an unexpected twist, such as a noodle soup with mustard greens and a bourbon-chicken sandwich. Perhaps even more surprising, the beverage selection rivals the food in its uniqueness: Taiwanese apple soda pours over scoops of strawberry ice cream in a Pink Cow float, and aiyu jelly sweetens a glass of Sprite.
Tanaka spent his childhood in both Japan and Korea, allowing him to master each style of cooking before making his way to the United States. While here, he sharpened his chef-owner skills at a restaurant in New Mexico before bringing his breadth of culinary knowledge to Lisle’s own Tanaka Sushi. Tanaka’s hands are as agile as the local paper snowflake maker as he slices tuna, eel, avocados, pickled radishes, and green bell peppers for his sushi rolls. His intimate, cafeteria-style eatery also warms bellies with Korean staples, such as spicy kimchi soup and bibimbap—a mishmash of vegetables, egg, and spicy squid served in a hot stone bowl.
From within Ding Dong Dang’s variously sized private rooms, drifts the sounds of singers living out vocal dreams previously unleashed exclusively in the safety of the car or shower. As crooners belt out popular songs or fill in forgotten lyrics with their social security numbers, the bar concocts drinks to lubricate parched windpipes, drawing heavily upon the dulcet notes of a Korean liquor called soju. Against the soundtrack of newly proud singing and clinking glasses, dishes clatter against tables, laden with Asian options including breaded pork donkatsu, crisp popcorn chicken, and pingsu, a dessert that combines red beans, fruit, and ice.
Orchid’s 7,000 square feet of sleek feasting space invites diners to sample a smorgasbord of contemporary pan-Asian cuisine featuring fresh sushi, hearty Korean barbecue, sweet Thai curries, and more. Entrees such as the braised Korean short ribs ($22) and the Thai green curry with shrimp ($16) detonate saucy taste explosions along thin red lip lines. Chlorophyll-friendly options include the vegetarian dinner plate ($15), a meatless medley of tofu steak, seaweed salad, kabocha mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables glazed in a miso-teriyaki sauce. For professional chopstick twirlers, Orchid offers an expansive selection of specialty sushi, including Crunch Melt, with shrimp tempura, cream cheese, and melted mozzarella, drizzled with unagi sauce ($14), and Salmon Obsession, a savory mix of fried and fresh salmon ($16) named in honor of Calvin Klein's best-selling portable grill.