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Embeya - the "little" one in name only

Embeya - the "little" one in name only
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  • Embeya - the "little" one in name only

    Post #1 - July 15th, 2012, 6:20 pm
    Post #1 - July 15th, 2012, 6:20 pm Post #1 - July 15th, 2012, 6:20 pm
    Embeya is projected to open later next month, but I was one of the fortunate few lucky enough to enjoy a complimentary preview dinner this past Wednesday at Tenzing Wine & Spirits. According to their website, Embeya offers progressive Asian cuisine. I would describe Embeya as upscale, Asian-fusion.

    Image


    The chef at Embeya is Thai Dang, who was previously a sous chef under Laurent Gras at L20, and most recently served as Chef de Cuisine at Ria. Chef Thai Dang was born in Vietnam, the youngest of ten children, hence the name Embeya which translates to the "little one." And at last Wednesday's dinner, Dang's former mentor, Gras, was in the house to work with his protoge:

    Image
    Dang is second from left, Gras far right


    The evening started with a couple of cocktails prepared by beverage director Danielle Pizzutillo: one gin-based featuring sake, yuzu, ginger and rhubarb; the other a take on a mai tai, but elevated with almond foam, dehydrated pineapple and cherry dust. Both were fantastic and nicely refreshing on a hot summer evening. The very next evening I sipped another one of Danielle's cocktails (rhubarb based) at the Green City Market BBQ and very much enjoyed that too. So many restaurants have elevated the cocktail to a modern art form these days, but sometimes forget that taste is as critical as appearance. My first impressions are that Danielle is very talented and succeeds in both the art and flavor categories, and that Embeya might even be worth visiting for cocktails alone.

    While sipping cocktails, we were treated to hors' dourves: a headcheese and foie gras "banh mi," an almond-crusted shrimp dumpling and an oyster with rhubarb and lemongrass. The banh mi was not so much a banh mi as a one-bite amuse, but it was just outstanding - rich, flavorful and just enough heat to bring it all together. The oysters were also terrific. The shrimp dumpling was beautifully fried, but had a hard time standing next to the bolder flavored banh mi and the terrific oysters.

    We were then seated for dinner. Our first bite was a kona kampachi with charred cherries and cucumber. The plating was beautiful and I was really beginning to get the sense of the type of upscale, Asian-fusion restaurant that Embeya aims to become. However, this dish didn't tickle my tongue with much excitement.

    But the next course certainly did: a single scallop, in the shell, atop what I believe was salt, and set aflame. It was served aside a bowl of garlic noodles with summer vegetables. The gentle flames stirring below the scallop might have been sexy in appearance, but more importantly the scallop delivered terrific flavor. The noodles and vegetables were tasty, albeit a mere sideshow compared to the scallop.

    Several dishes were then served family style. A bone marrow-stuffed squid (with ginger and garlic scapes) was really delicious. I hope that when they serve this dish at the restaurant they hit the squid with more char. But Embeya is weeks from opening, operating in a foreign kitchen, with limited staff . . . I'd be content if I received a dish this good at any restaurant.

    Image
    Bone-marrow stuffed squid


    Served at the same time as the squid was what might have been my favorite course of the evening, a unique green papaya salad. Shred freshly in the kitchen, and unique in that it also featured a Vietnamese beef jerky, along with culantro and crispy shallots, this salad shined. I sure hope this papaya salad reaches the menu at Embeya because it was terrific. What it might have lacked in fish funk commonly found at Vietnamese restaurants (and heat from Thai papaya salads), it more than made up for with the jerky and fresh herbs. I could have curled up in a corner, just me and a bowl of this salad, and been pretty damn happy for hours, if not days. If only my camera phone liked it as much as me.

    Image
    House shred papaya salad with Vietnamese beef jerky


    Next were Dover sole cooked (steamed?) inside a banana leaf; Wagyu beef with a soy glaze, watercress, pickled red onions; garlic roasted cauliflower; fried rice and (sake-?)braised bamboo and mushrooms. The sole was beautifully cooked, light and delicate, but with more subtle flavors than many of the other dishes. The beef was also cooked beautifully and paired wonderfully with the excellent fried rice. Too often fried rice focuses on everything but the rice, but not here, where each grain seemed properly touched by the wok, and seasoned just enough to taste the rice and understand it was fried. And this enemy of cauliflower actually enjoyed Embeya's version, albeit not as much as the more exotic bamboo and mushrooms.

    Image
    Dover sole in banana leaf



    Image
    Wagyu beef


    Dessert was certainly no afterthought, and likewise shined. There was sticky rice with coconut and cardamom-cured mango, which was very good, although the cardamom was quite subtle. But as a lover of cardamom, I'll admit that it is dangerous to work with (like nutmeg), because just a bit too much can overwhelm a dish.

    Image
    Sticky rice with coconut and cardamom-cured mango


    There was also a tofu custard with a citrus creme (the custard was like a denser creme caramel), which I just loved (but forgot to photograph). If the custard is on the dessert menu, I think it's a must order. Finally, a beautiful platter of jackfruit, lychee, rambutan, dragon fruit and longan.

    Image
    Clockwise from top left, rambutan, longan, dragon fruit and lychee (jackfruit not pictured)


    In addition to cocktails, I thought there was a very nice and interesting selection of wines picked by sommelier Griffin Lawler, including a Sake, two Rieslings and a Tempranillo. Overall, a very enjoyable dinner and I can't wait to see what this group can accomplish. I love my casual, neighborhood Asian restaurants (Thai food is my favorite), but I think Chicago lacks in (and needs) upscale, Asian-fusion spots (Red Light started off big but eventually faded, Le Lan is gone and had faded well before its final exit, Sunda is adequate but the food does not excite me, and China Grill simply turned me off). If Embeya delivers at or even slightly above the level it delivered last week, then they should be in great shape. There is obviously quite a bit of talent on this team and they're shining well before their actual opening.

    Embeya
    564 W. Randolph St., Chicago
    312.612.5640
  • Post #2 - July 15th, 2012, 7:08 pm
    Post #2 - July 15th, 2012, 7:08 pm Post #2 - July 15th, 2012, 7:08 pm
    Thanks for the report. Embeya has been on my radar.

    BR wrote:a unique green papaya salad...in that it also featured a Vietnamese beef jerky, along with culantro and crispy shallots, this salad shined...What it might have lacked in fish funk commonly found at Vietnamese restaurants (and heat from Thai papaya salads), it more than made up for with the jerky and fresh herbs.


    This actually sounds like a fairly traditional preparation of Vietnamese papaya salad. Typically it will have Thai basil instead of culantro as the herb, but the addition of beef jerky is not uncommon. Additionally, it's common to to dress the salad with a soy-based dressing rather than a fish sauce one. That may explain the lack of fish sauce flavor.
  • Post #3 - July 15th, 2012, 7:16 pm
    Post #3 - July 15th, 2012, 7:16 pm Post #3 - July 15th, 2012, 7:16 pm
    beng wrote:Thanks for the report. Embeya has been on my radar.

    BR wrote:a unique green papaya salad...in that it also featured a Vietnamese beef jerky, along with culantro and crispy shallots, this salad shined...What it might have lacked in fish funk commonly found at Vietnamese restaurants (and heat from Thai papaya salads), it more than made up for with the jerky and fresh herbs.


    This actually sounds like a fairly traditional preparation of Vietnamese papaya salad. Typically it will have Thai basil instead of culantro as the herb, but the addition of beef jerky is not uncommon. Additionally, it's common to to dress the salad with a soy-based dressing rather than a fish sauce one. That may explain the lack of fish sauce flavor.

    Thanks for that info. I'll admit to being far more familiar with Thai food, and I simply have never had the papaya salad with beef jerky (or I don't think I have).
  • Post #4 - July 17th, 2012, 6:39 pm
    Post #4 - July 17th, 2012, 6:39 pm Post #4 - July 17th, 2012, 6:39 pm
    This looks promising. I only hope that Flour & Bones can also deliver: this city is truly in need of a Danji or Momofuku--big-flavored, idiosyncratic restaurants that rewrite the rules of "authenticity" for the Information Age.
  • Post #5 - September 13th, 2012, 10:54 am
    Post #5 - September 13th, 2012, 10:54 am Post #5 - September 13th, 2012, 10:54 am
    FYI - Embeya officially opened Tuesday
  • Post #6 - October 11th, 2012, 10:36 pm
    Post #6 - October 11th, 2012, 10:36 pm Post #6 - October 11th, 2012, 10:36 pm
    Surprised no one has posted since the opening. I've been twice so far and it's an interesting place. I adore the bone marrow and sausage stuffed squid. A chef I was dining with marveled at the fact that the inside and outside are cooked perfectly. Another surprise is the excellent chicken, which looks like perhaps meat glue and sous vide was used to make some kind of roll in which each piece has both fatty dark meat and tender white meat. There is an excellent cocktail program as well. The papaya salad has a great kick to it, which was sadly missing in many of the other dishes. A disappointment was the tea...what is with this tea brewing vessel that restaurants in the area use that lets the poor leaves bathe in a bitter swamp of misery, ruining any further pours of tea?

    Interesting people watching as well. Dolinsky was there and being feted like a Saudi prince. Then the strangest thing happened, something even more weird/hilarious than what happened to me at the Aviary recently. There were two women merrily dining at the next table. And a random guy in typical college kid attire comes in and starts bothering them. He takes out his phone and shows them a picture of his "awesome" pumpkin keg and asks if he can sit with them. It's super awkward and eventually they convince him to leave. True story. Completely bizarre. We asked the women about it and they said they didn't know him and nothing like that had ever happened to them before.
    Last edited by mgmcewen on April 16th, 2013, 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #7 - October 18th, 2012, 11:51 am
    Post #7 - October 18th, 2012, 11:51 am Post #7 - October 18th, 2012, 11:51 am
    We went with friends who live nearby and enjoyed it a lot. Our friends have already gone several times, and noted that dishes are changing - they had a super tomato-based drink while tomatoes were plentiful.

    There is a Sunday prix fix that sounds like a good deal ($29, or $50 with wine pairings).

    Embeya
    564 W. Randolph St.
    312-612-5640
    http://www.embeya.com/
    Leek

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  • Post #8 - October 21st, 2012, 3:46 pm
    Post #8 - October 21st, 2012, 3:46 pm Post #8 - October 21st, 2012, 3:46 pm
    We were there for dinner last night...happy to find street parking right across the street on a Saturday night.

    The room is beautiful. Truly a lush, modern Asian setting. VERY loud though, had to shout to be heard at our own table, especially as the place got busier. It wasn't full, though, at any point last night (on a Saturday night?), so I can only imagine if it was.

    Service was attentive. The waiter enjoyed helping coach us through food and beverage favorites. The food menu is small and changes daily (e.g the one on the website isn't 100% accurate). The wine list is the oddest - very Euro, there are two pages of bottles of German riesling. Wines from Slovenia and Croatia are on the menu. There is no Australian, very little American. The cocktail I had (____ zuke, gin with ginger beer) was solid.

    The food was good, but only mostly good.

    We started with the shredded papaya salad, which was not as exotic-looking as the photo above. The beef jerky that was shredded into it was sparse. The taste was described by Mrs.EdB as "sharp." We also had the $9 pork belly summer roll, which was very standard in its interpretation and a little dry.

    The second course was three dishes: short rib, shrimp dumplings, and scallop. The short rib was fatty and had inedible bites. It was served to be a lettuce wrap, which then seemed redundant when the shrimp dumplings arrived - also served in a lettuce leaf cup. The dumplings, though, were the best dish of the night. Rolled in almonds and some other flavors, they had a lot of depth and flavor. Really a great dish. The scallop (one scallop) was served with a side of soba noodles topped with uni; the noodles were very slimy, even before I mixed the uni in. The taste was interesting, but nobody at the table dove at the last bites to finish it up. The scallop, served with tiny mushrooms atop a flaming salt pillar, was nice but not particularly memorable.

    The third course we had include the noodles, the ribs, and Thit Heo Kho. The noodle dish was like a spicy Japanese udon, with shrimp. It was fine but nothing special, and it strangely was served without any utensils to serve it. The ribs were excellent, with the tangy hoisin sauce note strong but not overpowering. My guess is the ribs had been deep-fried (but not breaded), as they came cleanly off the bone and had some crunch to the outside. The Thit Heo Kho was recommended by the waiter, it is a pork belly dish with quail egg and some other ingredients. The waiter encouraged us to eat it with the steamed rice. The pork belly itself was (apparently deliberately) mostly fat, with little bits of meat. It is apparently a dish made to eat at home in Vietnam, so as an authentic dish it wins points for introducing us to something new, but it wasn't a winner.

    Dessert choices sounded good, including the dragonfruit (what does it cost to fly that here? wow), but we chose to go to Margie's for old-school ice cream instead. :-)

    I enjoyed dinner, but for the price and the fact that it wasn't wow, I don't think I'll hurry back. Which is too bad, because I am supportive of someone doing progressive SE Asian here...
  • Post #9 - October 21st, 2012, 4:04 pm
    Post #9 - October 21st, 2012, 4:04 pm Post #9 - October 21st, 2012, 4:04 pm
    edb60035 wrote:The wine list is the oddest - very Euro, there are two pages of bottles of German riesling. Wines from Slovenia and Croatia are on the menu. There is no Australian, very little American. The cocktail I had (____ zuke, gin with ginger beer) was solid.

    The wine list is awesome. There are two pages of bottles of riesling (and it's great with the menu).
  • Post #10 - October 21st, 2012, 6:18 pm
    Post #10 - October 21st, 2012, 6:18 pm Post #10 - October 21st, 2012, 6:18 pm
    While I totally agree that Riesling is often appropriate for pairing with Vietnamese/SE Asian, I found the intensity of that section of the wine list a little intimidating. Having said that, we didn't order a bottle of anything, sticking to by-the-glass/beer/cocktails anyway. So maybe not fair of me to comment.
  • Post #11 - April 16th, 2013, 1:33 pm
    Post #11 - April 16th, 2013, 1:33 pm Post #11 - April 16th, 2013, 1:33 pm
    Embeya started lunch service today, which is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and a good way to check this place out. They have a prix fixe for $21, which I had. It was excellent- just the right amount of food and all the dishes were really good and presented gorgeously. I had the papaya salad, the beef and rice noodle salad (pictured), and mango sticky rice. I also tried a refreshing salted lemonade. Besides the prix fixe, they had what looked like the full dinner menu available. Now that my normal nice lunch haunts in the area, temples of heavy food like Au Cheval, seem less appealing with the warmer weather, I'm glad this place is open for lunch and that it's not the ubiquitous Banh Mi.

    Image
  • Post #12 - September 6th, 2013, 8:49 am
    Post #12 - September 6th, 2013, 8:49 am Post #12 - September 6th, 2013, 8:49 am
    Has anyone been lately? I would rather go to someplace like Tank, but our friends wanted a "slightly upscale" atmosphere for Vietnamese food, and this place sounded better than Le Colonial to me (which I have not been to in ages).
    "My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

    -Orson Welles-
  • Post #13 - September 6th, 2013, 8:59 am
    Post #13 - September 6th, 2013, 8:59 am Post #13 - September 6th, 2013, 8:59 am
    borborigmy wrote:Has anyone been lately? I would rather go to someplace like Tank, but our friends wanted a "slightly upscale" atmosphere for Vietnamese food, and this place sounded better than Le Colonial to me (which I have not been to in ages).


    I love Embeya; have been going approximately once a month the past few months and had outstanding food and service consistently across all visits.
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #14 - September 6th, 2013, 9:04 am
    Post #14 - September 6th, 2013, 9:04 am Post #14 - September 6th, 2013, 9:04 am
    I love Embeya; have been going approximately once a month the past few months and had outstanding food and service consistently across all visits.


    Anything you can specifically recommend to get there?
    "My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

    -Orson Welles-
  • Post #15 - September 6th, 2013, 9:15 am
    Post #15 - September 6th, 2013, 9:15 am Post #15 - September 6th, 2013, 9:15 am
    borborigmy wrote:
    I love Embeya; have been going approximately once a month the past few months and had outstanding food and service consistently across all visits.


    Anything you can specifically recommend to get there?

    The one thing that really stood out from my last visit was the brussels sprouts . . . best I've ever tried, and seriously, they'll convert any hater. The chicken is excellent too, but I haven't been in a while so I'm not sure about any recent menu changes.
  • Post #16 - September 6th, 2013, 10:53 am
    Post #16 - September 6th, 2013, 10:53 am Post #16 - September 6th, 2013, 10:53 am
    The one thing that really stood out from my last visit was the brussels sprouts . . . best I've ever tried, and seriously, they'll convert any hater. The chicken is excellent too, but I haven't been in a while so I'm not sure about any recent menu changes.


    Yeah, it looks like the menu has now changed, so unfortunately I am not sure those items are available anymore. That being said, there are a lot of tasty sounding items, so hopefully I will choose wisely. I will try and comment on the visit afterwards.
    "My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

    -Orson Welles-
  • Post #17 - September 6th, 2013, 10:55 am
    Post #17 - September 6th, 2013, 10:55 am Post #17 - September 6th, 2013, 10:55 am
    borborigmy wrote:
    I love Embeya; have been going approximately once a month the past few months and had outstanding food and service consistently across all visits.


    Anything you can specifically recommend to get there?


    My favorite dish to get is the whole fried fish (large enough for 2-3 to share as an entree assuming you order some small plates to start out with). The specific fish rotates, but I have had it three times and all were outstanding (the Lemon Sole was my favorite). The Green Papaya Salad is excellent as are the Summer Rolls. I also particularly enjoyed the Quail and the Ribs. The only off dish I have had was the Octopus (was too chewy and had an unpleasant aftertaste).
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #18 - January 8th, 2014, 10:29 pm
    Post #18 - January 8th, 2014, 10:29 pm Post #18 - January 8th, 2014, 10:29 pm
    I had an outstanding meal at Embeya this past weekend. Apologies for not remembering everything real well, but I'll give it a shot. Some of the stars of the night:

    Crispy spring rolls with shrimp and shiitakes - served with butter lettuce leaves for wrapping, and then a dipping sauce. Hot, crisp and delicious.

    Grilled quail with honey and lime - this was sent out complimentary of the restaurant (I have gotten to know the folks at Embeya since having dined at a pre-opening dinner, noted above and they sent out the quail (and escargot if I recall correctly)). They certainly picked a great dish to send out as this quail was just beautifully grilled, tender, moist and delicious. One of the best quail dishes I've had in some time.

    Seared sea scallops with noodles - there was a lot more going on here besides the beautiful sea scallops, perfectly seared. The noodles were kind of like a bucatini, if not a tad thicker, and were nicely chewy. I wish I could remember the flavors of the sauce (the menu says maitakes and swiss chard) but this dish was fantastic.

    Five-spice duck leg - simply terrific, this was done confit-style, crispy exterior and I appreciated that the five-spice was detectable yet not overwhelming.

    Brussels sprouts with nuoc cham - about as good as Brussels sprouts can be, and I've had some damn good ones. Order these.

    Fried rice - another absolute must order at Embeya and a dish that in my opinion really shows off the skills at play in the kitchen. Here, the rice is front and center. There are no vegetables, meat or eggs to hide behind. No, just rice, oil, a little garlic I think, and salt (maybe a little pepper, I can't recall). But I'll be damned if a single grain of rice wasn't steered perfectly through the wok, such that the rice doesn't stick together, and the subtle, uncomplicated flavors are beautiful.

    We shared a number of other terrific dishes including the mussels, escargot in green curry and papaya salad. The only item that really didn't do it for me was the octopus and eggplant. Coconut cream was a significant ingredient, and in my opinion it provided too much sweetness to the dish and hid the octopus. But apparently Phil Vettel and/or Kevin Pang thought this was one of the 10 best dishes of the year, so your mileage may vary.

    We finished off with the roasted pineapple, coconut ice cream and peanuts - a great combination of flavors.

    But overall, I loved the dinner. I think Embeya is really hitting on all cylinders and it's becoming one of my favorite places to dine in the area. I tend to be partial to Asian food to begin with and I love the upscale approach they take with the cuisine, ingredients and even the decor. I also am a big fan of their cocktails, which I find very creative. Some certainly skew sweet, but I'm okay with that as an introduction to this meal. Also worth noting that Embeya is one of the most conversation-friendly spots I've found in town.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #19 - January 17th, 2015, 3:37 pm
    Post #19 - January 17th, 2015, 3:37 pm Post #19 - January 17th, 2015, 3:37 pm
    I get the feeling Embeya is largely ignored, and that's really too bad, because it keeps getting better and better and I've had a few really fantastic meals there in the last year. I understand it will be appearing on Check, Please! in the next couple of weeks so I suspect that might increase their crowds. But I can't think of a better upscale Asian experience offered in Chicago (though one thing I love about 42 Grams is the number of Japanese influences on the menu).

    I won't go blow by blow in terms of my most recent dinner at Embeya, but I'll note a few highlights: Delicata squash with housemade Vietnamese sausage, head-on prawns and ice cream sundae with jackfruit, pineapple and coconut. Really, everything we had was fantastic but these were the best of the best. If you haven't been, you really owe it to yourself to give it a try.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #20 - January 17th, 2015, 4:29 pm
    Post #20 - January 17th, 2015, 4:29 pm Post #20 - January 17th, 2015, 4:29 pm
    BR wrote:I can't think of a better upscale Asian experience offered in Chicago

    Shanghai Terrace offers a pretty great upscale Asian experience.

    Disclaimer: I haven't been to Embeya yet.
  • Post #21 - January 17th, 2015, 6:10 pm
    Post #21 - January 17th, 2015, 6:10 pm Post #21 - January 17th, 2015, 6:10 pm
    I haven't been to the restaurant but I have tasted their food @ 2 off site events, where they were among the best bites of the nite.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #22 - January 17th, 2015, 8:27 pm
    Post #22 - January 17th, 2015, 8:27 pm Post #22 - January 17th, 2015, 8:27 pm
    Strongly concur with BR. Also had a fantastic dinner a couple weekends ago at Embeya. Definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago and agree it flies more under the radar than it should. I went too long between visits and as good as my previous meals were, my most recent one was even better. Consistently excellent, interesting, well executed dishes in a beautiful space with extremely friendly front-of-the-house staff and a top notch beverage program to boot. Very reasonable pricing as well for what IMHO is Michelin star worthy cuisine. Definitely the total package and I already have reservations to return next month.
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #23 - January 17th, 2015, 8:37 pm
    Post #23 - January 17th, 2015, 8:37 pm Post #23 - January 17th, 2015, 8:37 pm
    I fell in love with Embeya when I tasted Chef Tai's grilled quail at the Green City Market BBQ in 2013.

    Now -disclaimer - I'm biased since my daughter cooks on the line at Embeya (which makes me insanely proud).

    I've had such good meals there with adventurous but approachable dishes. I remain partial to the quail and always to their whole fish and the wonderful puff pastry with macha ice cream for a sweet. The room is elegant and the service graceful and polished.

    The cocktail menu is good as well - I like the Queen's Ransom which combines tequila and rhubarb - and they have a crazy good collection of something like 50 Rieslings. There's a special $29 Sunday night menu which is a nice way to sample what they do.

    I'll stop the proud mom push now but it's so nice to see them get mentions.
  • Post #24 - February 7th, 2015, 7:19 pm
    Post #24 - February 7th, 2015, 7:19 pm Post #24 - February 7th, 2015, 7:19 pm
    A week ago four of us ate at Embeya on the first night of Restaurant Week (RW). Here's how it went.

    This was my first time at Embeya. I can't comment on how the RW menu compares to their regular menu; I would assume it represents a significant discount compared with ordering the exact same items a la carte. Embeya's RW dinner menu is served family style. The RW menu offers a choice between three courses for $33, or four courses for $44; we ordered the latter. There were 2-3 items for each course, and they brought all of the items to the table. Many were served in two bowls/plates for the four of us, and a few were served in one. The two desserts on their RW menu were different from the two shown on the RW website. We also ordered a third dessert a la carte.

    Here's what we had:

    FIRST COURSE
    CUTTLEFISH (cucumber, garlic oil, radish)
    GREEN PAPAYA (cilantro, crispy shallots, beef jerky)

    Cuttlefish is a marine animal related to octopus and squid, and the pieces of cuttlefish seemed similar to squid, with a relatively mild taste. This dish was very good, although there wasn't that much cuttlefish in it. The green papaya was nothing special, a lot of crunch but not a lot of taste, and not a lot of beef jerky in it either.

    OPTIONAL COURSE
    HEAD‐ON PRAWNS (lemongrass, tamarind, garlic)
    CARAMELISED DUCK (banana blossom, cabbage, crispy)

    The prawns were excellent, tasty and nicely sized, the only true standout savory dish of the meal. The duck lacked... duck. If there was any duck in it, we couldn't find it!

    MAIN COURSE
    BRAISED SPARE RIB (roasted onion, Thai chili)
    SEAFOOD STEW (Manila clams, mussels, sea bass, lobster)
    CAULIFLOWER (roasted wild mushroom)

    The spare rib didn't have a lot of meat on the bones, and was just okay. The sauce in the seafood stew was absolutely delicious, similar in flavor profile to a really great tom kha in Thai cuisine, with coconut and pepper flavorings. But there was hardly any seafood in it! One tiny clam the size of your fingernail, one smallish mussel for each of us, a piece of lobster shell too small to extract any meat from, and a tiny bit of sea bass the size of a normal bay scallop. So that dish had huge potential, but was an utter failure. The cauliflower was so spicy that the spice (cayenne, I'm guessing) overwhelmed any other flavors.

    DESSERT
    PEANUT MOUSSE (milk chocolate, dark chocolate crumble)
    ICE CREAM (vanilla, taro, roasted pineapple, coconut)
    CRÈME PUFF (matcha, vanilla) (not on the RW menu; ordered a la carte)

    The peanut mousse was okay. The ice cream course was good; more specifically, I absolutely LOVED the taro ice cream. I can't think of words to describe it; taro is a root vegetable, and the ice cream was gray colored. The flavor was somewhat reminiscent of chestnuts. The crème puff was excellent. (The matcha pastry cream filling was a bit more liquid/runny than typical fillings.)

    That may sound like a huge amount of food, but it really wasn't. At the end of the savory courses, we were wondering whether we would feel full afterwards, but the desserts were enough that we felt reasonably satisfied. I would not have felt full had we only done the three-course menu, since the only dish with a lot of the main protein, the prawns, was part of the optional course.

    Our overall reaction to Embeya was that it was okay, with hits and misses, and not a place we would be likely to return to. There were too many dishes that either didn't impress, or didn't have enough of their main ingredient. Photos above show ample portions of squid, sole, and beef, but that's not consistent with our dinner last week. Perhaps they were skimping only for their Restaurant Week menu, but if so, that's not a good idea if you want first-time customers to return in the future.

    I like the idea of modern Asian food, but some places are better than others. Based on this dinner, Embeya falls somewhere in the middle of those I've tried. (By way of comparison, I liked Yusho more than Embeya, but didn't like Parachute at all.)
  • Post #25 - April 1st, 2015, 9:09 am
    Post #25 - April 1st, 2015, 9:09 am Post #25 - April 1st, 2015, 9:09 am
    Dang; bye bye Thai. :cry:

    Very sad to hear the Chef Thai Dang is leaving Embeya shortly. Embeya reportedly is briefly closing and will be reopening with a new chef. Embeya has been one of my favorite restaurants the past couple of years, so am not happy about this. Best case scenario is the new chef is excellent and Chef Dang stays in Chicago and opens a new venue. Chef Dang was such an integral part of Embeya that it will not be the same without him regardless of who is brought in as the new chef.

    Best of luck to Chef Dang on his next endeavor as well as to Embeya in successfully re-branding itself.

    http://chicago.eater.com/2015/3/31/8322 ... ang-embeya
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #26 - April 8th, 2015, 11:17 am
    Post #26 - April 8th, 2015, 11:17 am Post #26 - April 8th, 2015, 11:17 am
    Here's some more (distressing) details on Dang's ousting...

    Original story from the Trib:
    http://t.co/3puHFHq5d8

    More detailed follow-up from Dolinsky:
    http://www.stevedolinsky.com/acrimonious-breakup-embeya

    These are from Dang's perspective. His (former) business partner was given the opportunity to respond, but chose not to. There's been a lot of these type of issues of late (Purple Pig and MOTO lawsuits). Bummer.
  • Post #27 - April 8th, 2015, 8:58 pm
    Post #27 - April 8th, 2015, 8:58 pm Post #27 - April 8th, 2015, 8:58 pm
    milz50 wrote:Here's some more (distressing) details on Dang's ousting...

    Original story from the Trib:
    http://t.co/3puHFHq5d8

    More detailed follow-up from Dolinsky:
    http://www.stevedolinsky.com/acrimonious-breakup-embeya

    These are from Dang's perspective. His (former) business partner was given the opportunity to respond, but chose not to. There's been a lot of these type of issues of late (Purple Pig and MOTO lawsuits). Bummer.


    At least the Dolinsky article isn't behind a paywall.
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #28 - April 10th, 2015, 2:26 pm
    Post #28 - April 10th, 2015, 2:26 pm Post #28 - April 10th, 2015, 2:26 pm
    The new chef is Mike Sheerin . . .

    Nearly 10 days after announcing the location for his new dumpling restaurant Packed, Mike Sheerin has been named executive chef of Embeya

    Mike Sheerin named Embeya's new executive chef

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #29 - June 17th, 2017, 4:39 pm
    Post #29 - June 17th, 2017, 4:39 pm Post #29 - June 17th, 2017, 4:39 pm
    What happened to the owners of Embeya? is quite a story from Crain's Chicago Business.
    Embeya was one of the city's hottest restaurants. Then it abruptly closed after partners Attila Gyulai and Komal Patel looted its accounts. Now they've vanished.

    One day last summer, sometime after Attila Gyulai and his wife and business partner abruptly shut what was once one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago, they abandoned their Ford Flex SUV in front of their River West home. A $200 charge was made on their personal debit card to the Canadian Border Services Agency in a Toronto airport on July 14. Chicago police ticketed the car two ​ weeks later and impounded it in mid-August. The co-owners of Embeya, a progressive Asian restaurant in the West Loop that won national accolades for its inventive cooking and sleek design, have not been seen in Chicago since.


    These people seem to be real scoundrels. The story is quite long, unfortunately behind a paywall.
  • Post #30 - June 18th, 2017, 8:03 am
    Post #30 - June 18th, 2017, 8:03 am Post #30 - June 18th, 2017, 8:03 am
    Gonzo70 wrote:Very sad to hear the Chef Thai Dang is leaving Embeya shortly. Embeya reportedly is briefly closing and will be reopening with a new chef. Embeya has been one of my favorite restaurants the past couple of years, so am not happy about this. Best case scenario is the new chef is excellent and Chef Dang stays in Chicago and opens a new venue. Chef Dang was such an integral part of Embeya that it will not be the same without him regardless of who is brought in as the new chef.

    Best of luck to Chef Dang on his next endeavor as well as to Embeya in successfully re-branding itself.

    Not yet mentioned in this topic, those who loved the cuisine from Chef Dang will soon be able to do so once again:

    Acclaimed Chef Thai Dang’s HaiSous Will Ignite the Flames on June 26

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