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The Slurping Turtle – Tis the Season for Slurping

When most think of comfort food, they think of mammoth-sized corn bread and gooey macaroni and cheese. But, after a visit to acclaimed chef Takashi Yagihashi’s year-old noodle shop, my definition just might change.


The Slurping Turtle

From the ambiance to the service to the food, Slurping Turtle is just warm all over. For starters, it’s impressive what they have done with the space. Designers chic’ed out this hidden River North spot, and turned its otherwise narrow digs into a trendy bi-level eatery with an open kitchen and a mix of booth, bar, and ample communal seating. A few tabletops are available in their swanky upstairs, but since reservations are not accepted, it’s first-come, first-served at this fast-to-fill-up hot-spot.

Octopus Salad

The menu is simple, yet vast. A short-list of hot and cold tapas start things off. A can’t-miss? The octopus salad: it’s tangy, spicy, and a texture-lover’s paradise. If you aren’t into squid, then opt for the duck-fat fried chicken, which features a crispy, melt-in-your mouth skin with each juicy bite.

 

Duck-fat fried chicken

To segue into the noodle bowls, there is an array of bincho grill one-bites and a small selection of sushi. Flash-grill options include goodies like short rib, pork belly, asparagus-wrapped bacon, and many more. For a dice-sized, tender treat, go with the scallops.

Pork belly

 

Scallops

As expected, the noodle bowls are gigantic and shareable. Each bowl features a flavor mash-up that adequately reflects Takashi’s aptitude with Japanese comfort food. Whether opting for a rice, Udon, or broth-based dish, one of the best parts is undoubtedly giving it a good mix-up and discovering all the intricacies and ingredients that make up the experience. The other best part? Knowing that the goal of this cuisine is to get equal parts broth and noodles with each bite, so embrace your inner kid and slurp away.

Bincho

As far as the drinks are concerned, there is a full-bar equipped with a sake list to be reckoned with, if that’s your thing. Suggestion: mention to your server the wine you typically like to drink for an expert sake recommendation of equivalent traits. And above all, save room for whimsical desserts like macaroons and sea-salt ice cream.

The service is friendly, but won’t win any awards. However, it’s good-enough when every seat in the house is taken, service-after-service. Regardless, get ready to touch elbows with a stranger and tuck a napkin into your shirt, because it won’t be long until the winter weather brings out the Slurping Turtle in all of us.

Emily Belden

Emily Belden

everyone's favorite no-one | nerd trapped in a cool kid's body | writer, blogger | cooler online than in real life | doesn't come home to stuffed animals |

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