slurping turtle

9:30 AM sians 0 Comments

when i first heard that chef takashi yagihashi was opening a new restaurant that focuses japanese comfort food from his childhood late fall/early winter,  i was more than ecstatic. slurping turtle is a lot closer to my apartment and a warm bowl of delicious ramen any day of the week (be it lunch or dinner except for sunday when they only serve dinner) was the perfect comfort food for the approaching cold winter days. why turtle? turtle is the symbol of longevity in japan and slurping in japanese culture usually means compliments to the chef.

i've had sunday ramen brunch at takashi before and i enjoyed the flavors quite a bit. so i was looking forward to this noodle dinner with my friend, xy who is on the search for the best ramen around. the restaurant was packed on a friday evening but phew ! we got there just before the wait list started so we managed to get seats at the communal table. (let me rant just a bit : dear chicago restaurants, what is up with communal tables almost everywhere?! i've seen enough of those and am so over communal let's do away with it..kthanksbai! /end rant)

communal tables aside, i love the decor at the restaurant which was modern contemporary in warm shades of green, bronze and a splash of red with japanese accents to reflect its identity. it was simple yet beautifully done with open kitchen where some patrons are able to see the chefs at work. in fact, i saw chef takashi expediting the dishes out the diners.

both of us agreed on getting our own bowl of ramen while we shared an appetizer. the menu looked similar to the sunday brunch menu at takashi but with a couple more selections. my boss has mentioned how excellent the pork belly bun was so that was what we went with. 

appetizer :: pork belly snack ($8)

when the dish arrived, i went oooo.. it looked delicious but i believe the conversation after that was:
xy: so umm, which one do you want? both the pork belly slices doesn't seem to be the same size.
me: yeah, i noticed that too. hmm.. i guess i'll take the smaller one.
xy: you sure? 
however, after the first bite, i was thinking to myself, "dammit...i should have taken the bigger one.." lol. 

this bite size appetizer was delicious - sweet, succulent and tender pork belly with the bite from the mustard and soft bun to soak the sauce. there are several layers of flavor in one bite - all balanced and compliments each other so well. however, i am not sure if i can justify $8 for perhaps four small bites of food which left me a bit unsatisfied. i would have definitely loved more of it.

noodles & rice :: shoyu noodles | egg noodle, classic tokyo style soy broth, braised pork shoulder, naruto, bamboo shoots ($13)

i kinda knew what i wanted to order before i even stepped foot into the restaurant. i absolutely the braised pork shoulder in the ramen i had at takashi and just the braised pork shoulder itself was enough to convince me for an encore bowl of ramen with hopes for a repeat of that yummy performance. this ramen was good with a savory and salty warm broth that warmed me right up. good ramen but nothing amazing. the two slices of pork shoulder was too fatty and while it was still delicious, it wasn't as awesome as my first experience. oh, but i still wouldn't mind more slices of pork shoulder please? :)

noodles & rice :: slurping noodle | rice noodle, napa cabbage, black tiger shrimp, cilantro ($13)

xy's comment on fb about this dish was "had a nice herbal taste (and smell!) to it". since his office is close to noodles by takashi yagihashi, he compared both noodles and said this was definitely more flavorful. the soup has layers of flavor compared to the ramen he's had at noodles by takashi.

i haven't quite figured out what i think of slurping turtle. although the noodles were good, i thought the pork belly snack took center stage. even xy liked our appetizer better than our noodles dishes. a friend asked him what he thought about the place and i think he summarized it pretty well : "it was, shall we say, good but not worth the hype lol." go without expectation or be swayed by the hype and you will have a delicious time - especially perfect for these cold winter days. 

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.

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