The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Review: Slurping Turtle

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 13, 2012 8:30PM

Takashi Yagihashi’s ramen gets a lot of love among local gourmands, and for good reason. We’ve left both Yagihashi’s eponymous Bucktown restaurant and Noodles by Takashi (his shop at Macy’s on State Street) wondering sometimes if ramen could get any better.

It can, just not at Yagihashi’s new Slurping Turtle. Not for a lack of execution and planning, mind you. Something was off with the Slurping Noodle, its hearty broth an overpowering match for the almost translucent rice noodles bathing in it. The bowl was packed to the point of cracking with black tiger shrimp, Napa cabbage, fish egg and cilantro. Yet we couldn't stop thinking that what was missing here was a thicker, starchier egg noodle to tackle that broth.

All of this means that Slurping Turtle isn’t a failure. It only means that you can get better ramen at places like Arami or Ginza Fish House. (For the value, we suggest a trip to the latter.)

Slurping Turtle isn’t merely a ramen house. It’s also a bincho grill, a dumplings and tapas house, a beer and sake bar and a place to order some sizable sashimi. The crispy curry croquettes featured here a couple of days back is worth the price and return visits. Organ meat lovers will find plenty on the menu, such as skewered chicken livers, heart and foie gras, to sate their appetites. Rich and crispy duck fat fried chicken will appeal to lovers of animal fat. Veggie items such as kombucha squash were perfectly grilled, but could have benefited from salting.

We also learned to look at the drinks menu for more than a hot second before ordering one of the cocktails, which will send your blood sugar levels skyrocketing.

Slurping Turtle’s macarons are one of the sleeper items on the menu. These are soft discs of perfection, sandwiching ingredients such as caramel or topped with toasted sesame. The dining room itself is simple, with small tables surrounding communal tables. You can sidle up to the sashimi bar and chow away as chefs prepare the dishes. Or you can try and score one of the tables upstairs, with their view of Hubbard Street traffic.

Ultimately, Slurping Turtle is like any other restaurant. They do some things better than others and what they do better, they do well. Just don't try to paint it as something it isn't, and enjoy it for what it is.