Sunday, April 21, 2013

Restaurant Review: Amibabul in Chicago...

I know I’ve been MIA for almost the entire month and I apologize for that. I’ve had so much stuff I’ve wanted to share but school’s really been kicking my ass lately so I’ve been really focused on that. Add planning a trip to Colorado in May on top of that and I’ve had little time to think of much else. Man how the time flies!

Inside Amitabul

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been dying to tell you about is this fantastic restaurant my husband and I ate at earlier this month. It’s called Amitabul! I’ve actually been dying to eat here for over a year because I’d heard such great things about it but as typically happens whenever we’d set out to go something would change and we never actually got there. Until now anyway. Amitabul is a vegan restaurant that serves healthy, Korean, Buddhist cuisine. There’s no seitan on the menu, no soy shrimp, no soy ham, no soy chicken, no ‘vegan meats’ of any kind. Tofu, and Tempeh are the only ‘meat’ option and I really liked that. I mean as much as I love all that other stuff I really appreciate and value the simplicity of not having it. According to their website Amitabul only brings in the freshest ingredients from the farmers market, and then they’re cooked in a way to bring out the true flavors of authentic Buddhist healing cuisine. If for some reason that sounds boring to you, like if you think the dishes are going to be totally minimalist and lacking in taste and texture you’re so wrong. Their menu is actually pretty extensive and they offer a nice mix of both traditional and modern recipes. Everything we ate here was amazing, and so flavorful, just further proof that you can eat healthy without sacrifice.

Mandoo Vegan Dumplings

Of course because the menu was so extensive and since it was our first time visiting we couldn’t decide what we wanted to get. So we started with no fewer then three - yes three - appetizers and a drink each. Our first ap was the Mandoo Vegan Dumplings. I don’t remember what was inside these but they were a steamed dumpling served in a light broth. There were sweet/salty and spicy dipping sauces that you could also use on them, though they were delicious all on their own. Also they come in a big serving 12 dumplings per plate!

Green Heaven (left) and Awakening Energy (right)

Next I got the Green Heaven Smoothie which was kiwi, lime, orange pineapple, spinach and cucumber. This was pretty good and exactly what I was looking for, not too sweet. However I think I liked my husband’s drink option even better. He got the Awakening Energy which is a drink that had Ginseng, Lotus Root, and some other stuff I can’t remember. It was a little spicy like fresh ginger is, but sweet too and it was a perfect combination.

Jade Maki

Spicy Kimchi Maki

Next up on the appetizer list was the Maki. We couldn’t decide between the three Maki options they offered and so we went for 2 out of 3. I got the Spicy Kimchi Maki which is exactly what it sounds like, Kimchi wrapped in a maki with spinach and carrot. It was really, really good - my favorite of the two - and not very spicy which is good If you don’t like spice. I do like spice however so I just added a bunch of wasabi. My husband ordered the Jade Maki which was a maki combo of Cucumber, Avocado and Spinach. Also very good, and they gave us so much! I was expecting a typical appetizer plate of maybe 6 rolls but there were more like 12-14 rolls on each platter. They were thinner then your average maki roll but still I don’t know how we ate it all!

For my entree I ordered the Dark Side of the Moon plate, and with a name like that how could you not right? It had 2 or 3 kinds of mushrooms, some mixed veggies, and rice noodles all served in a delicious flavorful sauce made with Chef Bill’s special 12 year fermented Black Bean Miso. Seriously guys, this was so delicious! Everything about this dish was amazing and this is coming from someone who used to hate - and I mean HATE - mushrooms. Really if you pay Amitabul a visit you need to try this out.

Dark Side of the Moon

My husband ordered the sweet curry noodles for his entree. This was mixed stir-fry veggies served over rice noodles in a sweet and slightly spicy curry sauce. My husband is a sucker for curry and so he’ll order it pretty much anywhere especially if it’s a sweet curry, but I agreed with him when he told me his dish was amazing. I took one bite of cauliflower from his plate, then a spear of broccoli and I was in love with the flavors of this dish.

Sweet Curry Noodles

For dessert we got the Giant Red Bean cake, which isn’t very giant but it is nonetheless delicious! I love red bean paste, seriously it’s one of my favorite things about Asian cuisine and back in Vancouver I used to order Red Bean paste everything all the time. Red Bean Paste doesn’t seem as common here in IL so whenever I see it anywhere I always have to get it. This cake was great, it wasn’t too chewy, it wasn’t too sweet, but it had a ton of flavor and I loved the black sesame seeds crusting the outside of it. That really brought the cake to a whole new level for me.

Giant Red Bean Cake

So, if you’re in the area you HAVE to stop into Amitabul, they are amazing. We ate so much food, but you know it’s healthy and healing when you stuff yourself silly and don’t feel like death afterwards. Despite all we ate we left feeling light, airy and satisfied. It’s also a cute little restaurant with a great mellow vibe, fun Buddhist phrases and statues and super friendly staff. It was a pretty quiet afternoon when we decided to stop in and we were served by Chef Bill himself, who is a super nice man. Another perk of Amitabul is that the parking outside is free, and if you live in Chicago you know what a miracle that is! Free parking in this city is almost unheard of. So check it out, you won’t be sorry you did!

Amitabul Restaurant 
6207 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL
Closed Monday
Opean - Tuesday-Sunday 12 Noon to 9pm. (Last seating at 8:45pm)

Amitabul Restaurant

1 comment:

  1. This place was AWESOME! I'm so glad we went & I wish we could eat there every week. Definitely a must for anyone in the Chicago area. Even though the kimchi maki was supposed to be spicy, I'm glad it wasn't overly hot since I'm not a huge fan of spicy foods. It was just right. Now I want Korean food again! haha - Matt