Sunda - Chicago

Last night I went back to one of my favorite new restaurants in Chicago, Sunda. This is an Asian eatery like no other. They cover the entire continent as far as flavors and dishes go and the menu has something for everyone. Chef Rodelio Aglibot has created a culinary experience that is not only tasty, but fun. He collaborated with the owners who travelled extensively throughout Asia to taste, smell and see what the people there were eating. They really have brought all of those senses back to Chicago in the form of Sunda.
The menu has a large selection of smaller plates that are encouraged to be shared. This includes small bites, salads, dim sum, noodles, hot appetizers, and a large selection of sashimi and rolls. They also have a selection of larger entrees that are more than enough for one and also great to share. I love this style of eating and I think that you really get to explore the restaurant's concept more by sampling all it has to offer. Luckily, I have been fortunate enough to sample a lot of it. There are so many dishes that are incredible, but I am just going to share a few.
The Roasted Duck Hash Salad is more of a meal than a salad to me. The duck is luscious and covered in a sweet and spicy unagi glaze. It is presented over frisee and a daikon cake then topped with my all time favorite topping, a fried egg. It is delicious and indulgent.
The Lemongrass Beef Lollipops are also a fun and delicious dish. Thinly sliced marinated beef is wrapped around lemongrass for easy eating on a stick. It comes with a delicious salty and spicy dipping sauce.
The Escolar ("Great White Tuna") Nigiri Sunda Style is pictured to the left above. This is simplistic, yet has a very different and refined taste. The melt-in-your-mouth tuna is wrapped around a small piece of sushi rice and chives and topped with a potato chip and truffle shaving. The order comes with two, but believe me order a double.
The dish pictured at the top right is something that I could every day and be a happy girl. This is the Food Buddha's Signature Sushi called Classic Crispy Rice. Sushi rice is formed as a base and then crisped up, which gives it the most amazing texture. It is crunchy on the outside and warm and sticky on the inside brushed with a soy glaze. They top this simple, yet amazing rice with Spicy Tuna (pictured above and my favorite!), Kobe Beef or Shrimp Tempura.
Lastly, I will mention the pork belly entree. For those of you that love pork belly or are ready to try it, order this dish! It is adobo braised and served with vinegar, caramelized onions, garlic and herb salad. If you have never tried pork belly, it basically tastes like the best bacon on the planet and when cooked well in lovely ingredients it is heaven. This is a large dish, so it is great for sharing.
Sunda is the kind of restaurant that you continue to go to because there is a lot of ground to cover and they keep you wanting more. The service is amazing and don't forget to order dessert, they have some amazing options which I have sampled and almost licked the plate in public.
I hope that you can make it to this great restaurant and sample for yourself what Sunda is all about. I wish this was one of those restaurants where I could go home and replicate dishes, but I think I will leave these dishes to the Food Buddha.


Pickled Shrimp

I had a BBQ at my house on Friday and everyone raved about this recipe, so I am going to share. This is the perfect appetizer for any casual occasion. Bonus is that you make it in advance and you can make a ton of it. We even had some leftovers of it a few days later and it was even more delicious. You can eat it alone, but it would also be delicious on crusty Italian bread. Don't worry about following the recipe exactly. I eyeballed the measurements and added more of the ingredients I really wanted to stand out. 

Pickled Shrimp
Emeril Lagasse 2002

  • 1/4 cup dry crab boil spices 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Lemon quartered
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 teaspoons Creole mustard (I could not find, so I subbed yellow mustard with some creole seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

In a large pot of water, combine the crab boil, 1 teaspoon of salt, the quartered lemon, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in a colander.
In a large bowl, combine the Creole mustard, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Whisk in the vinegar to combine. In a steady stream, whisk in the oil until emulsified. Add the garlic, peppercorns and bay leaf. Place the shrimp in a glass baking dish and cover with the marinade. Toss with the onions and lemon slices to evenly distribute. (I actually used freezer bags and that worked as well)
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours before serving.


Jump on the cilantro bandwagon!

Did you know that some people hate cilantro? I don't get it either. I love cilantro. I found a site dedicated to the banishment of this wonderful herb. Seriously, check it out:

Of course it's fantastic in Mexican food, but my favorite use of cilantro is in a so-easy-you-can't-believe-it recipe courtesy of Cooking Light. Cilantro, pasta, feta, garlic (another obsession which will be highlighted in a future post) - could it get any better than that? Fast, easy and relatively healthy (it IS in Cooking Light, after all). My mom and dad have made this for years. I never knew how simple it was until I gave it a whirl myself.

Farfalle with Cilantro Salsa
Cooking Light, May 1995

8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped (doesn't hurt to add more - you may find that one can is not enough if you like stewed tomatoes as much as I do)

8 cups hot cooked farfalle (about 4 cups uncooked bow-tie pasta)

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Add pasta; toss gently. Serve at room temperature.

Um, could the preparation be any easier than that? This is certainly not going to blow your socks off, but if you #1 love cilantro and #2 want something simple and tasty, then try it.


PS. I promise I will start adding photos soon. Blogs are kinda boring without them, huh?
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