116 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
This is going to be another "back when I was in Chicago" post. After work for dinner, I would typically hit up the River North area if I had time, and based on a recommendation from one of my wife's co-workers, I visited Slurping Turtle. I enjoyed it very much the first time and actually went back for a second time.
Slurping Turtle is a casual and hip izakaya, and the chef behind it is Takashi Yagihashi. I wasn't that familiar with him but apparently he's a pretty a well-known and respected chef. He was on one season of Bravo's Top Chef Masters for what it's worth, and he did pretty well.
The restaurant space has a funky, ultra-modern decor with concrete and a color palette of white, red, and wood tones. The door of the restaurant is a bit non-descript, and upon entering, you have to walk down this narrow hallway to get to the restaurant. At the bar, which is where I often sat and ate since I was eating solo, the large flat screen TVs show episodes of anime. This is definitely a funky, fun type of place.
The menu at Slurping Turtle is pretty diverse and wide ranging. There's sushi and raw fish preparations, hot and small cold plates, bincho grilled items, as well as noodles and ramen soups. The pictures below are from two different meals, so don't get the wrong idea about me. I enjoy eating, I eat alot, but I don't have an eating problem.
Duck-fat fried oysters with spicy mayo and crunchy slaw - this was one of the specials they had for the day and it was delicious. Super crunchy coating with a silky, creamy interior from the oyster. The slaw was refreshing and crisp.
Tartare of Hamachi in Taro Root Taco - another delicious dish, albeit a bit small. The tacos look much bigger in the picture but they're pretty tiny. The hamachi was marinated in a light soy dressing and who doesn't love taro chips.
Wagyu beef grilled on a hot stone - this was another special for the day. The beef was buttery and rich, just as you expect quality waygu beef to be. It's fun and interesting to also be able to grill your own meat tableside. The brownish dipping sauce was also delicious, although I'm not sure what exactly was in it - miso?
Action shot: grilling the meat and mushrooms....
Tan tan ramen - homemade thick ramen noodle, ramen stock, pork meatball, pork miso, bok choy, snow peas, bean sprouts
Shoyu ramen - homemade thin ramen noodle, classic Tokyo style soy broth, chicken wonton, grilled chicken, snow peas, marinated egg
Chocolate-black sesame macaron
The food at Slurping Turtle isn't that pricey but the food is delicious. Of the two ramen soups that I tried there, it's tough to say which I prefer more. Both are different and delicious in their own ways. The shoyu ramen is a little more what most people are accustomed to but the tan tan ramen had a nice spicy broth, so it depends on what you're in the mood for. The macaron I had was also delicious, although a bit pricey at $2.25 for one (that's on par with what they charge in Paris for macarons!).
Chicago is such a great food town. People there are seriously so spoiled. If this same place were in Boston, it would be totally mobbed. The ramen was top rate, something I think that is on par with what you'd get at a place like Ippudo in NYC. I didn't go particular early, and there wasn't a huge line or wait. Definitely check this place out if you're ever in Chicago - they also serve lunch.