At Solga Restaurant, guests finish barbecuing their short ribs, pork belly, and brisket in tableside charcoal pots, as chronicled in a feature by the Chicago Reader. But chefs do their fair share, too. They sear Atlantic king salmon and octopus atop the kitchen's grills and they heap steamed white rice into warm stoneware bowls before topping it with vegetables and dollops of red-chili paste. For noodle dishes, the chefs stir handmade wheat flour noodles into steaming or refreshingly cool broths.
Mio Bento’s storefront windows stretch from floor to ceiling, treating passersby to an unobstructed view of the Japanese restaurant’s casual yet elegant dining room. Lights affixed to a lofted ceiling shine on scarlet walls and plated arrangements of seaweed-wrapped sushi and creamy wasabi. As eyes take in the refined surroundings, chopsticks spar for fried shrimp tempura, udon noodles, and specialty sushi hand rolled by chefs. Green tea and vanilla ice cream stand out on the dessert menu, which also features traditional Japanese mochi and ocean-fresh swedish fish.
As any barbecue gourmand knows: charcoal makes all the difference. At Woo Chon, diners themselves roast thin strips of marinated short rib over hickory and oak charcoals before wrapping their concoctions in fresh lettuce and adding a spicy bean paste to taste. The interactive traditions of Korean barbecue reward the adventurous and napkin manufacturers alike.
Surrounded by tall wooden partitions and equipped with personal grills fed by glowing coals, dining here feels like a private culinary ceremony of sizzling meat and numerous pickled delights. And seclusion may be exactly what you seek when devouring dumplings at 4 a.m.
Outside, the street bustles with people, but inside Tanpopo, a calmness floods the senses. The serene restaurant glows with softly lit paper lanterns, which illuminate wooden room dividers and matching tables, Japanese wall tapestries, and plates groaning under colorful sushi rolls. These vie for taste bud's affections with other Japanese dishes and Korean eats, such as koroke deep-fried potato balls with corn and beef morsels, skewered shrimp, and housemade curries.
Winter-weary Chicagoans take note: Amitabul touts their spicy noodle soup as the antidote to flus, sore throats, and hangovers. The restaurant believes in the restorative power of food and the importance of mindful dining - also evident in the abundance of fresh veggies, tofu, and brown rice on their menu.