Slow and Steady Wins the Race at Takashi's Slurping Turtle

December 13 2011 - 11:25 AM

Slurping_turtleFor quite some time, the Slurping Turtle opening has been dangling in front of our faces. We came so close to those steaming bowls of housemade ramen weeks and even months ago. So when Takashi Yagihashi finally opened the doors to his new noodle hotspot, I couldn't wait long before stopping in to try it out. 

After hearing wonderful things about Takashi's namesake restaurant in Bucktown, I set the bar pretty high. When you arrive at Slurping Turtle, you'll realize why the construction took so long. One long communal table flanks the center of the restaurant, while small booths circle the outer rim.

There's a great, cozy upstairs with a bit more seating. While the communal table is crowded, it's a fun atmosphere and a great way to check out what other people are ordering. Plus, the wait for a table otherwise can be 45 minutes on a good day since the restaurant doesn't take reservations. 

The menu is very daunting, and it would help to have a little more direction for the servers. The noodle bowls are huge – yet fairly priced – while the grilled items are very small. My suggestions is to go with a few people and order one noodle or rice dish, and a number of appetizers, sashimi or something from the bincho grill.

The crispy curry croquettes are just one of the many unique dishes on the menu. It's basically just a fried exterior filled with curry sauce, yet the crunchy outside goes perfectly with the thick, creamy curry sauce. If you do opt for one of the larger dishes, beware that no two are the same. Every item has a different broth, unique types of noodles and quality meats – though I opted for the tofu and mushrooms, with egg-free noodles, deliciously soft tofu and some of the craziest mushrooms I've ever seen. My favorite surprise was the soft and flavorful eggplant perched on top of the soup. This huge bowl was overwhelming, and overwhelmingly hot, yet I was eventually glad I had every last bite. 

In the end, Takashi was especially lucky his restaurant opened just in time for winter. The food is comforting, especially for the season all the while keeping as a trendy River North spot where you can sip on sake flights and munch on inventive Japanese cuisine. 

Slurping Turtle
116 W. Hubbard St.
 Chicago, IL 60654

–Marly Schuman