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North Side Restaurant Review: Rodan

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Nov 2, 2006 3:50PM


On Milwaukee Avenue, in the heart of Wicker Park, is Rodan -– a restaurant/lounge whose reputation far exceeds the actual experience.

According to our server (who did a bang-up job taking care of the diners as the only one working) explained, the name Rodan comes from a 1950s Godzilla movie. Rodan was a winged monster who was both a friend and enemy to Godzilla. These opposites were present in the restaurant Rodan as well. Angry rock music playing in a sleek lounge setting. A menu of Asian-inspired dishes like vegetable dumplings, tofu curry, and steamed buns, mixed with a South American sampling of fish tacos, steak with chimichurri, and empanadas. The opposing contrasts continued when, after hearing so much about the fascinating video mirrors, we ran into the restroom to check them out and found them mysteriously turned off.

Not usually one for girly drinks, Chicagoist decided to order a Lychee Royale – a clever twist on the classic French cocktail Kir Royale. Though we were skeptical, the lychee and champagne complemented each other well, and the floating lychee in the glass added a nice visual element.

For a first course, we split the sea bass ceviche and steamed bun with chicken with our friend. Marinated in “lime jus,” the fish was perfectly done – not too fishy, but just fishy enough. The steamed buns were not as successful. Chicagoist is willing to forgive a lot while dining out, but while the chicken inside was delightful, the actual bun hadn’t been steamed enough. In other words, we were eating dough.

2006_11_rodan1.jpgFor dinner, Chicagoist ordered the wasabi fish and chips. The fish used in this dish is tilapia, which was surprising since it is a relatively delicate fish. Cod is usually the go-to for fish and chips, since it stands up so heartily to the deep fryer. Anyway, the tilapia was fine, as were the French fries. The only thing we thought as eating this was “which part of this was supposed to have the wasabi – the fish, or the fries?” We never figured it out, and since this dish is suspiciously absent from the online menu, we suppose we will never know.

When chatting with the server, she mentioned that Rodan really starts being crowded around 10:30 at night. And with the kitchen open until 1 a.m., we can see how that would happen. And then it hit us – though we didn't think anything we had for dinner was particularly good, we could imagine the dishes really hitting the spot at 10:30 at night or 11, after a few drinks, to really get the night started. Is that the opposite of a good restaurant, or just a new breed? You decide.