It may be that Shikago’s biggest contribution to the Loop dining scene is during lunch. This is not to underplay the dinner, which David Tamarkin thought was excellent, but where else downtown can you get a Korean-style short rib sandwich with kimchee ($7.49), pho ($3.89/$4.89), samosa ($2.50), Thai beef salad ($7.45), and unagi maki ($6.95), all from the same high-quality location? Yes, and they have bento boxes available, too. These are not the cheapest prices we’ve ever seen for these items, but you also don’t work on Argyle Street. Can dream, though.
Let’s say you’re staying for the weekend in the W Hotel and amble downstairs for dinner. What do Kevin and Alan Shikami (yes! That’s why it’s called Shikago!) have in store for you? For starters, the starters: of the thirteen on the menu, five are available as half-sized tasting portions. We think this is great, because it enables so much more sampling without the additional effort confusion of a small-bites menu or the like. Participating appetizers include duck soba noodles with confit, grilled breast, shitake, scallion, tomato, spinach, sesame and ginger ($9 tasting, $15 full) and a Vietnamese spring roll with bulgogi marinated grass fed red angus ribeye, green and sweet papaya, mixed greens, siracha, garnished with zucchini namul ($5 tasting, $9 full).
Do those prices seem reasonable? Yeah, and it continues through the mains. Nothing is over $18, which surprised us. The two most expensive entrees (one of which we mentioned yesterday) are a Shaking Beef Tenderloin with hoisin, ginger, chili, soy, carrot, bok choy, sesame, herbs and scallion potato pancake and a Roasted Monk Fish with mushrooms, roasted red potatoes, spinach, sesame, scallion and toasted almonds. Asian, but not exclusively Asian. On the lower end of the scale, a warm Chinese roasted pork salad in sesame vinaigrette with mixed greens, spicy peanuts, tomato, orange, Chinese broccoli and cucumber for $13 sounds like a bargain.
Mr. Tamarkin was especially enamored with pastry chef Catherine Miller’s desserts, like the yummy-sounding coconut soup with toasted almond financier, watermelon ice, yuzu curd and yogurt creme glace ($8).
Between all this stuff and a decent maki menu, everyone’s sure to find something they like, even if not the name of the restaurant.