My Visit to Chicago

Last Wednesday, I finally got a chance to explore Chitown, the Windy City formally known as Chicago in Illinois where Al Capone was known to run the Chicago Outfit and is home of the sports teams, Chicago Cubs and Bears and home of the egotistical yet talented Hip-Hop artist, Kanye West. It also has a high sales tax of 10.25% which is higher than New York and Washington, D.C. with many food shops claiming to have the best or original Chicago-style Hot Dog, deep dish Pizza or Italian Beef.

I had about five days to check out some places with three of them having to spend time at one of my field offices for work. But I would say I got a solid taste of what Chicago had to offer. I was able to go see the Navy Pier, the Bean, The Riviera and Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. I highly recommend all of those. On Thursday, I got to see a performance by the electronica band, M83 at the Riviera which had a nice venue but was packed full of people. The Pier is great for getting an awesome view of the city landscape and it was decent weather on that Saturday that I went. The Bean is the Bean and I don’t think any other city has a Bean that’s like this one. But my favorite attraction was most likely Green Mill because of the nostalgic decor from the ’20s and such a great ambiance and diverse crowd of music lovers. However, my top priority for visiting Chitown was to see what the hype was about with the food!

First restaurant I got to try was Aloha Poke (1st pic) and I ended up going there like three times for lunch. It’s located in the Chicago French Market accompanied with various restaurants you can try out See my Yelp Review!  Next, was Portillo’s for their Italian Beef which is so tender and juicy! I had meant to go back but I had other spots on my list to check off. On that Thursday, I finally got to try a deep dish from Art of Pizza which sells by the slice. I discovered later on while at Giordano’s that it was a bad move because you get fresher pizza as a pie but you have to wait like 45 minutes. I had wanted to try Lou Malnati’s but I don’t think I could handle pizza for three days. So I can only compare Giordano’s and Art of Pizza in which I thought Giordano’s was a little better because it was fresher, crispier and cheesier. The last restaurant I went to was on Sunday, Saved by the Max which is a gimmicky pop-up restaurant that models the Max diner from Saved By the Bell. Inside was pretty small and not busy but had 90’s swag all around. The Eggs Benedict were actually good but they had such a limited menu and their fryer was broken!

Overall, it was a fun time and I was able to experience the Cubs winning their first championship since 1946 so there were a lot of drunk and energetic people after the game.  The train system was efficient, reliable and ran 24 hours which is a plus. I was able to get around the city via train and bus majority of the time but traffic can suck during rush hour and events. For my stay, I had done two nights at The Gwen hotel which is under Starwood (since I’m a SPG) and another two at HI Chicago Hostel in downtown which is probably the cleanest and spacious hostel I’ve ever stayed in. As for the people, they were relatively friendly but it isn’t really diverse within the city when comparing to Toronto, New York or D.C. I noticed that Asians mostly stayed outside of the city like in Rosemont and that poverty was bad and majority that I had encountered were Black people. The weather was quite chilly during October and if I were to move to a colder area it would be Toronto or New York. So yeah, I don’t see myself living in Chicago but it was a nice visit.

 

Grand Opening of Haikan

On Saturday @ 5:00 PM was the grand opening of a new ramen noodle shop, Haikan in Shaw area of Washington, D.C.. For those that are fans of Daikaya ramen, it is owned by the same people. The line wasn’t crazy and accommodated the maximum seating capacity fairly quickly. In witnessing the work flow, things were running smoothly amongst the staff and the bartender was very knowledgeable in the dishes and cocktails. I had ordered a ramen with vegetable broth and added Chashu pork and egg. The vegetable broth had the right amount of spiciness and was flavorful and not overbearingly salty. The noodles which is imported from Japan were “al dente” and there was a surprisingly generous amount of tender Chashu in my bowl. My friends had ordered the Shio and the Shoyu which tasted light and smooth except for the Shoyu which had a hint of seafood flavor which it isn’t quite of my liking. We had also ordered the poutine which was an interesting take on the popular Canadian dish because the French fries (which were average) was topped with tofu. As for drinks, I can’t recall the exact name of the grapefruit cocktail with shochu and soda but it was very popular at the opening and I was curious to try one for myself since I’m a sucker for grapefruit plus, it helps you boost your metabolism! It was perfectly blended and was semi-sweet in which I had enjoyed. Inside of Haikan, it appeared contemporary and clean with very bright lighting. No sleeping here after finishing your bowl! The restaurant can accommodate many customers at booths, bar tables and even outside bench seating for I believe the maximum occupancy is 60+ people. So this is a great pick for large groups. I definitely recommend this place and hope to return soon. 다음 시간까지!