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Unfortunately, when we arrived in the city, our plans didn't work out. Plan A: Catch a watertaxi from the Navy Pier to Museum Campus, visit the Field Museum, then go to Chinatown for dinner. Well, we were able to take a watertaxi to the Navy Pier, but when we got to the Navy Pier, the watertaxi from there wasn't running anymore (closed for the season) and there was no way we'd walk to Museum Campus all the way from the Navy Pier. (We didn't even consider taking a taxi, probably because we're too cheap.) Um, I forget what Plan B and C were, regardless, they didn't pan out.
Somewhat dejectedly, "RM", "L", "G", and I aimlessly walked towards Michigan Avenue. I think it was "G" who returned to her senses first and rationalized that we should just find a noodle place nearby to eat at. "L" busted out her iPhone and found just the right place - Slurping Turtle.
We were too late to make the tail end of lunch, so the four of us hung out at The Shops at North Bridge. After killing an hour or so there, we walked over to my go-to bar in the Near North Side: O'Callaghan's. I got a pint of Dogfish 60 Minute IPA (6 USD):
Either a balanced, unremarkable, or easy-to-drink IPA, I'd say - take your pick, ha ha.
Finally, it was time: "RM", "L", "G", and I got in line at Slurping Turtle for dinner service.
What I ate:
1. "RM" shared a skewer of Chicken Breast (3.50 USD) from the house's Bincho Grill. The chicken was juicy and had a beautiful char from the grill. Very fine.
2. Pork Belly Snack (9 USD). I imagine Slurping Turtle must've obtained a little inspiration from Chef David Chang of Momofuku for this dish! Regardless of who's reponsible, pork belly wrapped in bao is absolutely to die for! Counter to my expectations, the pork belly had a melt-in-your-mouth texture - utterly decadent. The salad of peppery rocket and crunchy radicchio and squeeze of hot mustard were nice accompaniments to the umami-packed bao-wich.
3. "L" shared her Duck Fat Fried Chicken (9 USD) with us. The chicken was hot, crispy, and light: it didn't have any of the heaviness commonly associated with the fryolated arts. It was accompanied by shredded Napa cabbage and a spicy mayo that I thought should have had more oomph! to it.
After our starters, the four of us broke off to our respective bowls of ramen and chahan.
4. I went with our server's suggestion and a fan favorite, the Tan Tan Men (14 USD): Homemade thick ramen noodles, spicy pork broth, pork meatball, pork shoulder, pork miso, bok choy, snow peas, bean sprouts. Boy, this bowl of intense and rich goodness was a knock out! As I mentioned before, this particular evening was especially cold - around thirty degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill in the teens. So a hot and spicy (it wasn't a sweaty, tearful kind of spicy - just enough heat) broth was exactly what I needed in order to cope with the weather. The broth was dense with flavor, and had depth in spades - very complex. I wish I had a container-full sitting in my fridge so that at any time this winter, I could heat some broth up and restore my strength. I thought the pork meatballs were the best I've ever had. There was the slightest hint of lemongrass in them. I just wanted to go on eating more and more meatballs! I also thought the snow peas were very good.
I liked our server. She was very friendly without being overbearing. She also answered all of our questions like a pro. Our host was accomodating and helpful as well.
Slurping Turtle has a great vibe/atmosphere - cool customers - and a good look in terms of interior design. I liked the LED-marquee-and-wood-plank entryway, too.
Although I didn't do so myself, I recommend ordering something from Slurping Turtle's drinks menu. You might be surprised!
The Bill: After being split four ways, my portion came to be 30.09 USD.
My Rating: out of four stars (very good to excellent). Open Monday to Thursday, 11:30 AM to 3 PM for lunch, then 5 PM to 10 PM for dinner. Open for lunch Friday and Saturday, 11:30 AM to 3 PM; dinner, 5 PM to 11:30 PM. Open on Sunday, 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM, and 5 PM to 10 PM. Credit cards accepted. www.slurpingturtle.com
The Last Word ... Next up: A restaurant for those who are broke and hard-up for cash.
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