So on our recent trip to Chicago (did I mention it was St. Patrick’s weekend? Oy, what a weekend to be in Chicago. Beware of the puke), I dragged my poor, still under-the-weather hubby to Slurping Turtle for lunch. He managed to revive himself a bit though after a pint of beer, and once he dug into the food.
I loved this place from the moment I looked at the menu—it reminded me a lot of the Raku restaurant I had recently eaten at in Vegas, and I was happy to get to share it with hubby. The interior was very different (very white and modern and clean), but the menu similar. Slurping Turtle specializes in their noodle dishes, but also has a nice sampling of small plates to go alongside. They also do the grilled items on a bincho (or charcoal) grill. (Check out the chef/owner discussing the bincho and some of their other food here.)
There are a ton of good things to try on the bincho menu, but we wanted to get a little something off of all the parts of the menu, so we just had the beef ribeye ($5). It was served on a skewer (as are most of the bincho items) and covered in a teriyaki type sauce. It was outstanding. Even though it looked like one big piece of meat on the skewer, as you pulled it off, it was cut into bite-sized pieces that were just pushed together so they didn’t overcook (well, that is my assumption). So tender, but with the right amount of fat content to make it really rich and flavorful. The sauce was light, and didn’t overpower the meat at all. It was just slightly sweet and salty and exactly the perfect accompaniment. I would love to try some of the other grilled items if this one is any indication.
The next thing they brought us was the seared Big Eye tuna with avocado, cucumber and sweet onion dressing ($12). This was certainly a more generous portion than the beef was, and an easy thing to share (the same cannot be said for the beef—I shared it, but it wasn’t easy for me). There were 6 pieces of the very lightly seared tuna (which was seared with some sesame seeds as well) that were topped with slices of avocado, cucumber, onions and a few wonderful crispy garlic chips (we fought over those as well). I really liked the sweet onion dressing—it was slightly sweet, but also had the robust onion flavor and just the right amount of tanginess.
At this point hubby was rallying, and decided he wanted to add an item to the menu—the crispy oysters ($9). They were simply fried in a panko type bread crumb and were smokin’ hot, but honestly, I found them not very exciting especially with compared to the other items we ate—I wouldn’t get them again, but they weren’t bad—just kind of boring, even with the two sauces they served alongside (one was a mayo based ginger sauce and one a soy based slightly sweet sauce as I recall). The oysters just weren’t really juicy when you bit into them.
The last thing we got (of course we had to get some noodles) was the tonkotu noodles ($13)—they were egg noodles with a rich pork broth, a slice of braised pork shoulder, lightly pickled mustard greens, shitake mushrooms and random other things—like a snow pea and some green onions. Here’s what I really liked about it—the broth was tasty. I like the idea of a pork based broth—it was salty and had a nice rich flavor. I think pork just lends itself well to make this kind of broth richer than some other kinds of meats. The noodles were also really good in the broth, just giving a substance to the soup. I also really liked the way they cut the mushrooms into small slivers that were just the same thickness as the noodles. It made them really easy to eat with your chopsticks right with the noodles and added an additional earthy taste. I also liked the flavor of the greens, but I didn’t like the fact that they were all still in basically in their original head making them really hard to eat with chopsticks—at least for me. I had to sort of tug the leaves off and eat them. Also, the piece of pork was really dry and to me, not really worth eating on its own (hubby didn’t eat it either). But I am sure it added some more flavor, so I didn’t mind it, but I would have liked some more tender smaller pieces in there. But overall, the noodles were so tasty, I didn’t really mind.
We also had a plate of macaroons for dessert (3 for $5)—also a hot trend apparently, because they are on every menu everywhere we went as well. We had one sesame/chocolate, a soy/caramel and a yuzu (a Japanese citrus). The sesame chocolate was probably my favorite—I liked the slight smokiness in the sesame flavor—and as far as macaroons go, they were good, chewy outer cookie parts—but honestly I don’t think I am the best judge as I have decided I have never had one that really blew me away.All in all, I look forward to going back to the Slurping Turtle and trying some other things when hubby has more of an appetite. It would be a great place to go with a small group. I would like to try more of the grilled items and some of the dumpling type items as well. And I would think you probably can’t go wrong with the noodles—although the rice bowls are intriguing too.
And here’s hoping these type of noodle dishes start getting more popular in Indy—anyone have any good suggestions of where to find good noodles in Indy? I know H2O does noodle dishes sometimes that are really tasty, but they aren’t on the menu all the time.
116 West Hubbard Street
Chicago, IL 60654