Thursday, March 31, 2016

Buona Beef opens new location in Beverly


The Original Italian Beef, Buona Beef, opened its 17th location - and its first within the Chicago city limits on March 22 at 10633 S. Western Ave. in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood. The family-owned chain also celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

The company started with a secret family recipe of the Buonavolanto family in 1981 and you can still enjoy that great taste today. The family plans to expand further with fie new restaurants planned over the next five years, extending further into the city and surrounding suburbs.


I popped in with my friend Lilly for the ribbon cutting, which was actually a beef sandwich cutting, and tried out a few menu items.

The first thing I sampled was the beef - that was mandatory. We ordered the sandwich with barbecue sauce and sweet peppers and a side of delicious parmesan dusted home made potato chips. Other options for sides include fries, antipasto salad, fruit salad, a house salad, caesar salad and potato salad.

Besides the traditional Italian beef, there's an extensive sandwich menu. Char-grilled chicken avocado jack, tuna genovese, pepper and egg (Friday only), grilled salmon, caprese, turkey club panini,  meatball marinara and pretzel bacon burger are just some of the sandwiches to choose from. I'm sure they're all great, but if you've never before been to Buona Beef before, your initial visit should really involve the Italian beef. It's super tender and full of flavor on the most perfect fresh bread you could imagine - that classic crunchy/crusty texture on the outside and soft on the inside.


Wanting to try out something else unique on the menu, I honed in on the hand-rolled pizzas. With some intriguing specialty selections, I decided to give the beef & giardiniera a try. For a place that isn't really a pizzeria, this could compete with some of the best pizza joints in the city. It was prepared very quickly and with a hearty, crunchy crust that was in-between a thin and crispy crust and maybe half way to a thick-style of crust. The toppings were generous and it was an amazing combination for a pizza topper with Buona's famous Italian beef, sweet peppers and hot giardiniera. I would totally recommend it. P.S. pizzas are $6 all day on Thursday.

I had a hard time resisting the listing of milkshakes that was staring at me from our table top. Hand-mixed shake flavors are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and Ghirardelli Brownie. I decided to try the  Ghirardelli Brownie. Super yummy and creamy...blows away those artificial, icky ones from McDonald's.  By the way, if you are there between 2 and 4 p.m. on weekdays, you can get in on Milkshake Happy Hour and pick one up for just $1.99.



I love that you can get everything you need to make Buona beef at home right there in a refrigerated case. A "fast 5 beef" makes five 5-inch sandwiches - beef, gravy, bread and sweet or hot giardiniera - for $19.95. Family size sides of salads can also be purchased to go. Beef is also available by the pound with a quart of gravy and if you have a bigger crowd to feed, they have a large catering menu with not just beef, but a variety of hot entrees and pasta pans.


One other item I have to mention is the salads. After I saw a lady at a nearby table enjoying lovely and sizable salad, I opted to get one to taste and then take home for a quick dinner as I knew it would be a busy night ahead and that I would probably not have time to cook or make a stop. I ordered the Tuscan Harvest - full of all the things I love - arugula, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, gorgonzola with Granny Smith apple over romaine lettuce and served with fat-free raspberry dressing. You can order a meat or fish to go along with it. I chose to add grilled salmon and got a large filet to top my greens. It was pretty impressive, too - comparable to what you'd get as an entree in a restaurant and cooked perfectly. A little bread stick was added on that was nicely seasoned. As hard as it would be to pass up the beef, I would absolutely go here just for this salad. It was that good.

 

Be sure to swing by and check out the new Beverly location or one of their other 16 spots in suburbs or around the city - from Montgomery to Rosemont, St. Charles to Orland Park. Two more new restaurants are slated for this summer  in Algonquin and Frankfort.

Buona Beef
Chicago-Beverly
106333 S. Western Ave.
773-941-6980

** I did receive a complimentary meal for purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Do some sampling on Lincoln Square Ravenswood Spring Wine Stroll


Sip & Nibble Your Way
Through Lincoln Square Ravenswood
 During Annual Spring Wine Stroll

Wines from the Midwest to Be Featured by Neighborhood Establishments on April 28

WHAT:             The Lincoln Square Ravenswood Spring Wine Stroll is a wonderful evening spent meandering through the Lincoln Square Ravenswood neighborhood, visiting restaurants and shops, and sampling wonderful wine selections, including some Midwestern wines from Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.

The Wine Stroll consists of five different routes in the neighborhood, including a new route this year dedicated to Damen Avenue. Businesses participating in the Wine Stroll will offer 2-oz. pours of 2-4 wines; some will offer tasty 
hors d’oeuvres from local restaurants and caterers as well.
                         
WHO:               Presented by Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Sponsored by The Guesthouse Hotel, Bottles & Cans, Augusta Food & Wine, Ampersand Wine Bar and Fountainhead Market.

WHEN: Thursday April 28, at 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
WHERE:           More than 50 Lincoln Square Ravenswood businesses

TICKETS:         On sale beginning Thursday, March 31 atwww.lincolnsquareravenswood.org

·       $40 for one route, $60 for all routes.  
·       Price includes a wine glass and all tastings

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Chicago Foodie Sisters and the AMC Dine in Theatre Chicago

Chicago Foodie Sisters were invited to a private screening of Sisters starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the all new AMC Dine in Theatres Chicago. What a foodie experience, and a perfect movie to watch with my sister! The new theatre includes 11 viewing auditoriums with 40 reclining seats in each theatre and a call button to notify your waitress.

Lets talk food. The food menu includes snacks starting at $8 including items such as boneless wings, house fries, loaded tots and even sushi on the menu. Fore those that have a larger appetite you can dine on a great selection of burgers, and baskets to include chicken tenders, quesadillas or taco trios. Lets not forget about the mac and cheese, there are 4 flavors including traditional, gumbo, mediterranean and the Lux. The Lux includes bacon, fontina and aged jack cheese sauce, mushrooms and carmelized onions.


For the ligther options, they do offer bowls such as grilled chicken quinoa and chopped cobb or a chicken caeser bowl. Multiple options to taste and enjoy all with pushing the easy to locate call button. Lets not forget the 12 and younger crowd, there is a kid friendly portion menu available to include cheesburgers, fish and chips and mac and cheese.

Save room for dessert - there are milkshakes, and the cinnamon sugar doughnuts that come with salted carmel dipping sauce are wonderful!

If that is not enough to choose from, you still have your traditional movie treats such as popcorn and candy options as well. The theater does include a full bar and dining area to enjoy pre, or post show.

Chicago Foodie Sisters previewing the movie sisters, what a great night. There is no doubt this is going to be my favorite place to catch a new movie, and enjoy a great dining experience.

AMC Dine in Theater is located in the Block 37 shopping plaza at 108 N State St, Chicago. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Still Time to Enjoy Double-Dipped French Toast at IHOP


IHOP is a classic breakfast spot where you can always count on a nice serving of good, hearty comfort food. And I love that every few months there's something new to try. The current promotion is the Double-Dipped French Toast ~ yummy sweet brioche french toast coated in corn flakes and oatmeal in two yummy flavors. The Blackberry & Vanilla or Banana Peanut Butter & Chocolate varieties can be enjoyed all day long at IHOP locations through April 10.

I paid a recent visit to IHOP with my husband where I tried out the Banana Peanut Butter & Chocolate version, which was really sweet and delicious. It almost qualifies as dessert in my book and makes me hesitant to enjoy it as meal in itself - but, I was pleased to see that it comes in a variety of combo meals. 

So, for a dollar or two more you can add eggs, meat and hash browns. I had forgotten what a great deal it is to eat there. With my Double-Dipped French Toast, I opted for a combo that was $7.99 and included eggs, bacon, sausage and hash brown. Now that's a big breakfast. It actually made two meals for me as I could barely finish half and the rest went home for lunch later that afternoon. I had some of the eggs, sausage and hash browns and then one slice of the French toast as my "dessert."




It's really one of the most reasonable places in my area for breakfast - or if you're like me and believe breakfast is good any time of day, it's a good choice for a reasonably priced lunch or dinner.

"Double-Dipped French Toast became an immediate fan favorite when we introduced it last summer, so it was a natural choice to come back to the menu in two fresh, new flavors, “ said Marie Grimm, Vice President, Menu Development and Innovation, International House of Pancakes, LLC. “The combination of the unique texture of our Double Dipped French Toast with these exciting new ingredients will create even more fans of this terrific treat, perfect for breakfast all day or night!"

Don't miss out on this limited time menu item because once it's gone you don't know when you'll have the chance again!

**I did receive a complimentary meal for the purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Urban Canopy

Last year was my first time attending the Good Food Festival. I learned a lot while I was there. I discovered some delicious new products. I met many people who were so passionate about food - and locally sourced food and organic food and bringing it to people who are genuinely hungry for it. Case in point: microgreens.

The Good Food Festival is where I fell in love with microgreens. I came across a booth for Growing Healthy People in Grayslake, which has since become Growing Healty People/Grow Well Farms. They had a table full of several varieties of microgreens and were inviting people to sample it. It was really love at first taste. I recognized the microgreens as what I had usually dismissed as just little bits of garnish that I'd seen served with salmon or chicken or side dishes in restaurants mostly in the city. I had never even heard the term microgreens before. A couple times I had heard people refer to them as clover and although kind of resemble a shamrock or four-leaf clover, it wasn't what they were at all.

I bought several packages and took them home. Unfortunately, they didn't keep long and after a few days I was craving them and on the hunt for more. And I found that I could not find them. ANYWHERE. I asked at specialty shops. I looked at farmer's markets. I inquired at Trader Joe's (I did find pea shoots - which are actually a variety of micro green -  that I adored, but after a couple months they stopped carrying them. They said they weren't selling much of them! Boo hoo!) Questioned the produce guy at the local super market. Most people had no idea what I was talking about. Each time I'd come across them in a restaurant, I'd ask about their supplier, but they either couldn't tell me or it wasn't anywhere close to me. I looked online and researched growing them myself at home, but never got around to getting started and wasn't very confident I'd be successful. My kitchen has only one window that is north-facing, so it's hard to grow anything in my kitchen. So, I've spent the past year very much looking forward to going to the Good Food Festival where I was sure I'd be able to buy microgreens again.

Sadly, I didn't see Growing Healthy People again, but I spotted a booth with microgreens. When I asked if I could buy some, I was told they were not for sale. I saw them again at another booth. Asked again. They were just for display. I came across a place that had palates of wheat grass. It was just for wheat grass shots.

I wasn't just sad. I was seriously devastated. I thought about circling back and offering an obscene amount of money for one of those "display only" boxes. After all, it was about 15 minutes until the end of the festival and I was sure they were probably going to toss them in the trash. One of the last couple tables I came across was Urban Canopy. And there they were...a few scattered containers of microgreens...and a sign that said 2 for $5. My foodie prayers were answered. 

According to Alex Poltorak of Urban Canopy, it started "as an idea of how we create a more sustainable and equitable food system after seeing how many kids in the Chicago Public Schools don't have access to healthy produce and foods within their communities. " 

Urban Canopy has evolved into a main two-acre outdoor farm within the city of Chicago in the Englewood neighborhood and also an indoor farm where microgreens and wheatgrass are grown in the Back of the Yards community near 46th & Ashland. They do offer delivery to homes and businesses in Chicago...but unfortunately I'm out in the burbs and outside of their delivery area. So, I'll have to really savor these two packs I brought home. I am going to look up some of the farmers markets that they sell at and try to plan a summer day trip around it.

I also got some microgreen seeds compliments of the U of I extension master gardeners, so I may finally give it a go at growing my own and see how it goes.

Urban Canopy also continues the educational component and has become a support system for several community and school gardens. It's crew urges others to get involved through their compost club or by joining their CSA. On the weekends you will find them at farmers markets around the city from West Pullman to Rodgers Park and areas in-between. Find more info on their website, theurbancanopy.org.

Monday, March 28, 2016

From the inbox: Baconfest extends to celebrate bacon throughout April

In the Inbox this week, more news on the upcoming and ever popular bacon fest. Bacon has evolved from the focus of a two-day festival to a month-long celebration. So many ways to declare your love for this meat of the month! :)

Baconfest Chicago Declares April is
"Bacon Month"
City-wide Events Brings Together Businesses and Bacon-Crazed Foodies
 
March 28, 2016 (Chicago, IL) - Baconfest Chicago declares April is "Bacon Month" with a 30-day celebration of all things bacon. Baconfest Chicago has partnered with ACME Hotel Company, the Greater Chicago Food Depository and other local businesses for a month of event programming centered around the tasty pork product. For more information about Bacon Month! including special events, cooking classes at The Chop Shop, and bacon discounts at Jewel Osco, please visit BACON MONTH!

360-Degree Bacon Experience @ ACME Hotel Company - April 2016
It's all Bacon, all the time during the month of April at the ACME Hotel Company, the official hotel sponsor of Baconfest Chicago. The hotel will offer a bacon-themed treat upon arrival, ACME'S Pop-up Bacon Gift Shop featuring bacon goodies from lip balm to toothpaste, a bacon cocktail, and ACME's Insta-Gallery, exhibiting bacon-themed photos available for purchase from Instagram's most influential photographers. #ACMEISBACON

If a day at Baconfest isn't enough, then the ACME Hotel's Embrace the Bacon package is the perfect answer. Die-hard bacon fans will enjoy: two general admission tickets for Baconfest Chicago, a one-night stay at the ACME Hotel, a bacon cocktail from The Berkshire Room, and a Bacon-y surprise turn-down. Rates start at ($269).


BACON MONTH! EVENTS

It All Starts with a Party - Tuesday April 5, 2016
Baconfest Chicago's Annual Kick-off Party features bacon, bocce, beats, and booze at The Chop Shop, located at 2033 W North Ave, Chicago. The event will be held on Tuesday, April 5 from 7 to 10 PM. Tickets are ($30) on are sale now at Baconfest Chicago Kick Off Party Tickets.

Kevin Bacon Movie Night - Thursdays evenings beginning on April 7 -28, 2016
What Goes Better with Bacon Than Kevin Bacon? ACME Hotel Company located at 15 E Ohio St, Chicago  will host Kevin Bacon Movie Night every Thursday at 7 pm on the second level of the hotel. The hotel will provide complimentary bacon dusted popcorn from The Berkshire Room and wine, beer and cocktails will be available for purchase.
Volunteer Day at The Greater Food Depository- Saturday April 9, 2016
Help Baconfest feed Chicago by volunteering at a repack session at the Food Bank's warehouse, located at 4100 W Ann Lurie PL, Chicago from 1 to 4 PM.  Registration Link and More Info here.

It All Ends with BaconFest Chicago - Saturday April 30 & Sunday May 1, 2016
Baconfest Chicago will be held at the UIC Forum, located at 725 West Roosevelt, Chicago.  There will be over 150 restaurants participating including 45 first-time participants.  The fest includes three sessions: lunch and dinner on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.  Each session will feature a brand new line up of 50- 60 restaurants/chefs. To find out which Baconfest vets, Food Network stars, Golden Rasher Award Winners (the Oscars of the bacon world), and new restaurants will be at Baconfest, visit 2016 Baconfest Chicago Restaurant Roster.

2016 Baconfest Sessions
April 30 - Saturday Lunch
Featured Cocktail:     Tiki Bar
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM     Cooking Channel VIP hour
12:00 PM - 3:00 PM     General Admission Period

April 30 - Saturday Dinner
Featured Cocktail:     Old Fashioned Bar from longtime partner Templeton Rye.
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM     Cooking Channel VIP Hour  
7:00 PM -10:00 PM     General Admission Period

May 1 - Sunday Brunch presented by Jewel-Osco ((NEW TO THE FEST))
Featured Cocktail:     Bloody Mary Bar
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM     Cooking Channel VIP hour
12:00 PM - 3:00 PM     General Admission Period

2016 Baconfest Chicago Ticket Information
VIP Tickets ($200) offer access to the Cooking Channel VIP Hour and general admission period for the session selected. General admission tickets ($100). All ticket-holders receive unlimited dishes from the chefs, seven drink tickets (redeemable for beer, wine and cocktails from Baconfest's beverage partners), a Baconfest tote bag and a souvenir program guide. Tickets are on sale now at  www.BaconfestChicago.com/ticket.
About Baconfest:
Baconfest Chicago holds its eighth tasting event on April 30 and May 1, 2016 at the UIC Forum (725 West Roosevelt). Ticketholders gain access to a bacon-wonderland, where the city's best chefs hand out amazing, creative bacon snacks. Luxury brands, artisan bacon-makers, and "bacontrepreneurs" display, sample, and sell a multitude of bacon products. The best mixologists and brewers hand out bacon-inspired cocktails, beer and wine. To celebrate special achievement in the bacon arts, Baconfest gives out Golden Rasher Awards (the Oscars of the bacon world). 

Best of all, Baconfest is good for America. In addition to hosting a food drive and raffle at the event, Baconfest Chicago donates a portion of proceeds from ticket sales to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  In 2015 alone, Baconfest donated $75,000 to the organization.  Since 2009, Baconfest has donated more than $300,000 to Chicago's food bank, which translates into nearly 1,000,000 meals for hungry people in the area.

$8 Ramen This Month at Miku Sushi

March is National Noodle Month. And while "noodles" may initially have you thinking of pasta dishes, there's another uniquely wonderful dish that shouldn't be forgotten - ramen. This Japanese specialty is a hot trend in the food world these days - combining savory flavors of egg noodles, soft boiled egg, pork, vegetables and spices in a rich, soothing broth.

Miku Sushi's version of ramen is authentic to Japan and light on oils or added salt. There's a mild option (regularly $13) an also a spicy one ($14) but during National Noodle Month, you can try either one for only $8. And while this Lincoln Square spot is known for its sushi, it's ramen is equally as good.

Tonkotsu Ramen includes egg noodles, rich pork broth, pork belly, soft boil egg, bamboo shoot, sesame, scallion, mushroom, bean sprout an garlic oil. The spicy version, Spicy Roaster Garlic Miso Ramen has the addition of roasted garlic and chili pepper and uses sesame oil rather than garlic oil.

Be sure to get in this week to take advantage of the $8 ramen. My sister-in-law and I visited recently and they did a split for us as we also enjoyed some of the maki, which during March is also on special for half price from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Even the half order of ramen was sizable and satisfying.

The restaurant is fairly new and the location previously housed Tank Sushi. It's a nice, serene escape when you duck in off the street - like we did on a day when it was pouring down rain. It's a casual, yet elegant spot where you'll enjoy some of the most delicious Japanese cuisine in the city. I'll share more on the rest of the meal in another post, so stay tuned. :)






Miku Sushi
4514 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago
773-654-1277
mikuchicago.com

**I did receive a complimentary meal for the purpose of a review.  I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Gotham Greens

I had never been to the Pullman area of Chicago until a few years ago when my editor at a regional newspaper sent me on an assignment to cover a press conference with several elected officials touting the Pullman area and urging the recognition of the historic area as a national park.

I hung around in the area long after the press conference had ended. I stopped in a small info center and chatted and viewed an exhibit. I walked around the neighborhood photographing the rows of houses, the exterior of the Hotel Florence and the big old stone church. I was charmed by the neighborhood and envisioned in my head what the place must have been like a century ago.

The notion of a new national park in Pullman - as dozens of other facilities in the national parks system had been shutting down - seemed very unlikely, preposterous even. But, it helps when the president hails from the area. Before we knew it, it was happening. Pullman had been designated a National Historic Monument. Things have been hopping in Pullman ever since. A cafe is welcoming visitors. A brewery in the area has been growing. And I was so happy to hear about this exciting facility that opened in Pullman last year, Gotham Greens.

Gotham Greens originated in 2009 in New York and they have 3 urban rooftop gardens there. The facility in Chicago spans two-acres on top of the Method Products manufacturing plant. It's the world's largest and most-productive rooftop farm.

When I saw their booth at the Good Food Festival last weekend, I jumped at the chance to buy a pack (they were actually giving away packages and then for a $1 donation you could get a second package -- a magnificent bargain!)

I buy a lot of greens in plastic packages and most of the time, by the time it gets to the sell-by date they are already getting slimy and wilted. So, I consider it a big score when I buy a package and it stays fresh for a couple days. I don't know what Gotham Greens does differently to make their greens so crisp and fresh. They are holding up beautifully so far after two days. They also seem to not cram a big amount in there and I think that helps. The greens aren't crunched, but have room to breathe, I guess. :) They are also placed in the containers in nice large leafs, so they are great for lettuce wraps.

I can't wait to get my hands on some more of this product. I will definitely seek it out as I shop - it can be found around Chicagoland at such places as Whole Foods, Treasure Island, Sunset Foods, Plum Market, Hyde Park Produce and through Peapod.

Find out more about Gotham Greens at GothamGreens.com.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Roots Chocolate

I enjoyed spending two days at the Good Food Conference and Festival this past weekend and tried out my share of pretty yummy stuff. One of my favorites was Roots Chocolate. These awesome premium hand-made chocolates are made in small batches on a 4th generation family-owned farm near the Wisconsin Dells. How can you not love that?

The chocolates are available in a few stores in Wisconsin and although they aren't available locally, they can be purchased online at RootsChocolates.com. Surprise your sweetheart with a box of these and a bottle of wine and you'll score some big points. Or order some as a gift for Mother's Day and mama is sure to be uber grateful.

I sampled a small bite of the Dirty Blonde, the Sea Salt Sugar Baby and the Lavender n Honey (my favorite!) You can order online in boxes of 8 or 12. Follow along on Facebook for more info.






Good Food Conference & Festival

So, it was a great weekend at one of my favorite foodie events of the year - The Good Food Conference & Festival in Chicago at the UIC Forum. It's awesome to see how many people are passionate about good food - including speakers, exhibitors and spectators. And good food can mean a lot of different things. Wheat grass shots. Or grass-fed beef. Or Amish bread. Or hormone free milk. Or hand-pressed premium imported olive oils. Or heirloom popcorn. Or greens made on an urban rooftop garden. Or free-range eggs. Or small-batch items made with organic ingredients. Or many other things.

If you have not yet attended this great gathering of foodies, you'll want to for sure add it to your foodie bucket list. It takes place annually in March at the UIC Forum over three days and is presented by Family Farmed, a local leader in promoting locally and sustainably produced food. This year marked the 12th year for the fest.

Some of this year's speakers included Michael Bashaw, president of Whole Foods Market's Midwest division, Rick Bayless of Frontera Mexican Restaurant Group, Marc Schulman of Eli's Cheesecake, George Siemon of Organic Valley and Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Take a peek on our social media channels - Chicago Foodie Sisters on Facebook and Instagram and @carrieste on Twitter - for pics of the event and keep your eye on the blog in the days ahead for more on some of the good food enthusiasts and yummy products I was introduced to.

Sweet & Spicy Salad

Salads are a dish that allow for much creativity. I always love mixing up ingredients/textures - sweet with salty or bitter with chewy or crunchy with buttery. So, here's what this one had:

About 1 cup of arugula
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 clementine
spiced walnuts

I tossed it with a maple vinaigrette. How yummy!


Saturday, March 26, 2016

2 for $20 at Applebees

I had a free Friday evening recently and texted Dad to see if he wanted to get together for dinner. His pick. Since Applebee's is just a few blocks from his house, it was his first pick. So, we met there for a leisurely dinner together...with lots of talk about the upcoming Cubs season. :)

I gave up cola for lent and have been drinking mostly fruit-infused water, but I thought I'd splurge on some flavored tea - I tried kiwi and pomegranate. Both were refreshing and not super-sweet tasting.




So, we decided to do the 2 for $20 deal where you can pick an appetizer to share and two entrees. I love spinach artichoke, but dad's not fond of it, so we got mozzarella sticks -- and a big portion of them with a sweet and chunky marinara.

It was Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp for me and Three-Cheese Chicken Cavatappi for Dad. Quite a bit of food for $20...although dinner with Dad is always priceless.


In between courses, I gave Dad a tutorial on his new iPhone 6. He swears he is returning it and activating his old flip phone again. ;) But, I introduced him to Siri and I think he's starting to like it.









Tuesday, March 22, 2016

From the Inbox: Celebrate National Noodle Month at Miku Sushi with $8 Ramen

So, foodie friends - did you know it's National Noodle Month? Miku Sushi is celebrating with a deep discount on ramen during March. Ramen is just a big bowl of yummy, cozy happiness and what better way to recognize National Noodle Month than with a bowl of authentic Ramen?

"If you think you know Ramen, think again,"
says Stanley Liem of Miku Sushi
Celebrate March National Noodle Month at Miku Sushi with $8 Ramen

CHICAGO (March 1 2016) - One of today's hottest food trends is Ramen, the noodle and brothRamen 300 pixels w border.jpg Japanese specialty. In Chicago, there are a wide range of eateries for Ramen aficionados to go to savor their big bowl of comfort. But one restaurant which has elevated Ramen to its rightful place as a sublime Japanese delicacy is Miku Sushi in Chicago's Lincoln Square (4514 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-654-1277). Throughout the month of March, Miku Sushi is celebrating National Noodle Month by offering its amazing Ramen for only $8-the regular price is $13 and $14.

"I believe that most Chicagoans don't know how good truly authentic Japanese Ramen can be," says Stanley Liem, owner of Miku Sushi. "I've been to most of Chicago's Ramen spots and while many are good, most of them have taken liberties with their Ramen for efficiency or to appeal to an American audience."

"Japanese people, especially those who have lived in Japan, know what a great Ramen is supposed to be," explained Liem. "In Japan, Ramen is not a dish made in the home-it is too time consuming and laborious for home cooks, so people go out for Ramen. Restaurants in Japan have the staff to constantly attend to the broth as it cooks throughout the day. This is essential for the Ramen to reach its full potential."

Although Miku Sushi is known by most people as a Sushi restaurant, it is their rich, elegant Ramen that has become the reason why many guests keep coming back time and time again. 

The secret to Miku Sushi's Ramen is just that-a secret. Liem secured the rights to one of the most famed Ramen recipes in all of Japan and that is the recipe which is used at Miku Sushi, much to the delight of its growing throng of Ramen fans. "I won't say more about where the Ramen recipe came from, but I will tell you that we searched for and found a recipe which had earned accolade upon accolade within the Japanese culinary community. We are passionate about our Ramen and we cut absolutely no corners when it comes to the ingredients and our preparation process. Ours is as authentic and refined as it gets."

Ramen Overhead 300The most notable feature of Miku Sushi's recipe is that it contains very little oil and no flavor enhancers or added salt. "This is not typical of most Ramen one finds in Chicago," said Liem. "Our Ramen so rich because it is simmered over a three-day period during which time we skim and strain it constantly to remove any excess fat and bring out all of the flavors," said Liem. "There are many steps to our process; the flavors become more concentrated and blended together the longer the Ramen cooks."

Miku Sushi prepares two types of Ramen, a mild version and a spicy version. The milder version, Tonkotsu Ramen ($13), is made from egg noodles, rich pork broth, pork belly, soft boil egg, bamboo shoot, sesame, scallion, mushroom, bean sprout and garlic oil. The spicy version, Spicy Roasted Garlic Miso Ramen ($14), is prepared with egg noodles, rich pork broth, pork belly, soft boil egg, bamboo shoot, sesame, scallion, mushroom, bean sprout, roasted garlic, chili pepper and sesame oil. 

Although both versions are rich and flavorful, the spicy version, more often than not, becomes the favorite of regular customers. "Once you've enjoyed the extra kick of the spicy version, it's hard to go back to the milder version," said Liem with a smile.

The Ramen portion is very large, so many couples choose to share one bowl and enhance their meal with Miku Sushi's other excellent Japanese specialties-small plates, sushi, sashimi, maki and teriyaki. The Ramen adds an especially soothing warmth during the cold weather months. Miku Sushi also is running a special on its Lincoln Square Classic Maki and Traditional Maki, which are offered at half price every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout March.

"What I'm most proud of is that we're serving Ramen that our Japanese guests applaud, because they know what the Ramen experience is supposed to be like and we are fortunate to have met their very high standards," said Liem. "We hope everyone will stop by and find out what truly authentic Ramen is all about."
 
About Stanley Liem and Sara Katekaew 
This energetic and dedicated husband and wife team have emerged as a couple to watch withinStanley and Sara 300 pixels w border.jpg Chicago's restaurant scene. They first met several years ago when they worked at Tank Sushi, in the same space that now houses Miku Sushi. After knowing each other for four years, their relationship blossomed and once they married, they dreamed of becoming restaurant owners. They opened their first restaurant in 2011, Inari Sushi in Elmwood Park, a Chicago suburb. Their second restaurant, which opened in 2013, was a Thai restaurant called Sala Bua Thai, located in Chicago's Chinatown. They sold the restaurant in November of 2015. 

Having heard that the Tank space was available, they opened Miku Sushi in January 2015, bringing them back to the place where they first met. The couple plans to open a new Thai restaurant on Chicago's north side sometime in the future, and other concepts also are in the works.

About Miku Sushi
Room with People miku_sushi 300Miku Sushi is a stylish, upscale casual Japanese restaurant located at 4514 N. Lincoln Ave., south of Wilson Avenue, in Chicago's bustling Lincoln Square neighborhood. The restaurant is situated near many unique attractions including the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Davis Theater and specialty boutiques. Miku Sushi's menu includes a wide selection of fresh, high-quality Japanese cuisine prepared from the finest ingredients: soups, salads, small plates, maki, ramen, sushi, nigari, special entrées and desserts. The full bar serves creative Asian-inspired cocktails and a wide selection of sakes, wines and beer. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. All major cards are accepted. Ample parking is available on the street or in nearby public parking lots. For more information or to make reservations, please call Miku Sushi at 773-654-1277 or visit the website, www.mikuchicago.com.