Sunday, January 18, 2015 –Sunday, January 18, 4:00 pm (Slurping Turtle)
116 W Hubbard Street
Slurping Turtle: Business Casual with Decorations for Members
Part of our Dining Around the World Series
Savoring Slurping Turtle
On January 18, 2015, four dozen Chaîne Chicago members and guests visited Slurping Turtle, Chef Takashi Yagihashi’s tribute to the Japanese street and comfort foods of his youth. Our experience at this Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant was followed the very next evening by an event at his shuttered fine-dining restaurant, Takashi, which was reopened to offer members a unique opportunity to compare casual versus elevated Japanese cuisine. This informal evening of family-style dining at Slurping Turtle proved to be an unforgettable culinary journey, no less inspiring than our subsequent exploration of formal Japanese gastronomy.
Before Chef Takashi opened Slurping Turtle in 2011, he became nationally acclaimed for his fusion of Japanese, French and American cuisine at renowned restaurants in Las Vegas, Detroit and Chicago. He won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Midwest and his eponymous restaurant repeatedly earned a Michelin star. In 2012 Chef Taksashi won the coveted “Fan Favorite” award on the fourth season of Top Chef Masters, further expanding his well-deserved popularity.
Upon entering Slurping Turtle’s bi-level, industrial-chic space, guests were greeted with passed hors d’oeuvres: gyoza–pork pot stickers with soy-chili dipping sauce; “Shrimp-Age Shumai”–fried shrimp and pork dumplings; assorted maki sushi–spicy tuna, eel and cucumber, salmon and avocado and vegetable; takoyaki–fried octopus balls accompanied by aioli and bonito flakes; and fresh oysters with mignonette sauce.
Guests faced a multitude of beverage selections at the reception. Champagne Bertrand-Delespierre Brut Premier Cru 2004 was popular; this blend of three varietals exhibited pear and brioche notes and hints of honey that complemented the diverse bites. Unique specialty cocktails also were made at the open bar, including the slightly sweet “Oka,” made with Mizabasho Gingo sake, Prairie Cucumber Organic Vodka and Rhuby Rhubarb Liqueur; and “Tabo’s Smoking Jacket,” created with Bulleit Rye, Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth, spicy orange-flavored Bigallet China-China Liqueur and Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur. Sake by the glass was also offered: dry and slightly spiced Hakkaisan “Eight Seas and Mountain” and soft and vaguely vegetal Mizubasho “Water Flow.”
Following the reception, guests sat in comfortable booths or a long communal table running through the center of Slurping Turtle. Cold appetizers quickly appeared: mushrooms and broccoli kinpira, kabocha squash, spongy koyatofu, tuna and salmon sashimi, creamy potato salad and sunomono, a vinegared blend of octopus, shrimp and jellyfish on goma wakame (sesame seaweed salad).
Kiuchi Brewery’s Hitachino Nest beers paired effectively throughout the meal. Kiuchi was founded in 1823 as a sake brewery and added craft beer production in 1996 following changes in Japanese law governing micro brewing. Hitachino Nest White Ale, a refreshing Belgian-style beer with coriander, orange peel and nutmeg flavors, was served with the cold appetizers.
Hot appetizers followed, comprising crispy nuggets of soy-sesame marinated chicken fried in duck fat, bincho-grilled squid and beef tenderloin, and bao—the rich soy-ginger glazed pork belly filling the steamed buns was balanced by the bright acidity and crunch of daikon-arugula salad, pickles and spicy mustard toppings. Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale showcased sake-like flavors with sweet malt notes and hints of strawberries that complemented the hot appetizers.
Two main courses were served next: Tan tan men—with homemade whole-wheat ramen noodles, pork meatballs, pork chashu sausage, bok choy and bean sprouts in a rich, spicy pork miso broth; and chahan—Japanese fried rice topped with bites of succulent roasted chicken. Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Brew, crafted with fragrant raw ginger, matched well with the main courses.
For dessert, guests shared a substantial coconut cream puff filled with smooth custard, green tea cheescake, and traditional French macarons infused with assorted Japanese flavors (raspberry-wasabi, yuzu, chocolate-sesame, kaffir lime, and caramel-soy). Desserts paired well with Hitachino Nest XH (extra high), a powerful Belgian-style brown ale matured in sake and shochu barrels.
During the evening, guests inquired about the name “Slurping Turtle.” Japanese custom accepts “slurping” one’s noodles and broth simultaneously not only to convey deliciousness, but also to enhance and intensify flavors—not unlike an oenophile orally aerating wine. And turtles symbolize longevity in Japan. Based on the tasty food coming out of the kitchen, acclaim from customers and critics alike and the expansion of the restaurant to Ann Arbor in 2014, the aptly named Slurping Turtle will be around for a very long time. Kampai!
Dear Confrères and Consœurs,
As we open the second chapter in our 2014-2015 Chicago Chaine season, a James Beard award-winning Chef closes a chapter in his culinary journey. Please join us for what we believe will be two extraordinary evenings, executed Chaine style by a dear friend, Chef Takashi Yagihashi.
Our foray into the New Year begins with a visit to Chef Takashi’s casual eatery, Slurping Turtle, to introduce us to the essence of Japanese comfort food. Chef will offer us recreations of his culinary experiences while growing up in Japan, including a hot bowl of ramen, sure to warm our souls on a cold winter night. Slurping Turtle is no ordinary ramen-house, however, this is a Bib Gourmand winning restaurant. This will be the more casual of the two evenings but in no way any less creative or delicious.
The second evening of this incredible culinary journey takes us back to Chef’s eponymous and soon-to-be-shuttered Michelin-starred Bucktown restaurant. He will reopen Takashi for one night for our exclusive dining pleasure. For one last time, we will enjoy his brand of Japanese haute cuisine, a fusion of French and Asian flavors and techniques. Takashi, the restaurant, opened in December of 2007 and has garnered a Michelin star every year since the Michelin Guide came to Chicago. We feel honored to be invited one last time and have the chance to savor and reminisce many pleasant dining experiences in this restaurant.
We hope you can join us for both evenings! We’re very excited about this opportunity!
Capacity is limited. Please sign up early.