Chicago >Food & Dining > Ara-On
190 S la Salle St, Chicago, IL | Directions 6060341.879762 -87.632680
7am - 10:30 am breakfast, 11:30am - 3pm lunch
Neighborhoods: Loop, Central
Locals and tourists lap up modern Asian fare in the Loop. – Tucked into an old office building, this dark, moody dining room--previously a contemporary American spot--reemerged as a market-driven Asian eatery that's as popular with couples as it is with traders and bankers from the financial district. During lunch, Loop workers banter over ramen soup buoyed by Chinese-style barbecue pork. Heartier sizzle plates, an Asian take on meat and potatoes, perfume the lantern-lit space come dinnertime. A small bar and sushi lounge, outfitted with reclaimed wood tables, is a popular place to unwind over by-the-books maki.
The Shikami brothers settle in the Loop with this multi-option Asian dining space. – The Scene
The large room is a striking deviation from the grandeur of the Loop address. Floors are inlaid with posh zebrawood; the tables and bar are thick slabs of weathered logs. Art is bold: Prints feature oversized utensils and a wiry sculpture stretches an entire wall. A takeout area is equipped with glass cases offering bento boxes, salads and sushi to harried 9-to-5-ers. Guests in the dining area get shimmering flatware and fancy black chairs, taking time with the thoughtful menu.
The bar menu offers Pan-Asian bites like smoky yakitori (marinated, grilled skewered chicken) alongside pepped-up sushi like the Shikago Roll, featuring salmon, avocado, cilantro and chopped tomatoes. The dining room menu scores with appetizers like grilled scallops which, texturally, match beautifully with heirloom tomatoes wrapped in rice paper. Larger dishes are surprisingly substantial: Sweet bulgogi-marinated ribeye gets tangy scallion pancakes-perfect for sopping the juices.
Hits: The strength of Kevin's kitchen is clearly evident, even if it's takeout you're after.
Misses: Unlikely location and street-side invisibility leaves guests wanting of energy.
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