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Kapitan, Malaysian, Lincoln Park

Kapitan, Malaysian, Lincoln Park
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  • Kapitan, Malaysian, Lincoln Park

    Post #1 - October 12th, 2023, 5:58 pm
    Post #1 - October 12th, 2023, 5:58 pm Post #1 - October 12th, 2023, 5:58 pm
    There are a few mentions of this place here but no dedicated thread. Let's remedy that. Had an 'afternoon into evening session' the other day with my friend at the bar. We started with couple of cocktails, which we didn't realize were half-price because of happy hour . . .

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    Sasafrass City - Apologue saffron liqueur, sweet vermouth and grenadine.

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    Goddess Of The Valley - Chihuatan indigo aged rum, Barbancourt Pango rhum, Bitterqueens orange bitters, sweet vermouth, smoked chili and Angostura bitters.

    Nothing wrong with either these drinks but they didn't wow me, either. Pleasant as they were, I'd say that the cocktails -- and bar in general -- are not the reasons to visit Kapitan.

    We sat and chatted for a while, ordering few items at a time. Here are some pics, with descriptions lifted from the menu and/or website . . .

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    Lobak - deep fried five-spice pork roll wrapped in beancurd sheet.
    Really nice bites here, great flavor. The filling was more like coarsely chopped pork than a typical dumpling or potsticker filling.

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    Fried Nam Yee Pork Belly - deep fried pork belly cutlets with a kick - marinated with red bean curd (Nam Yee) sauce
    Loved everything about this one. Great seasoning and crispiness on the exterior and juicy, flavorful meat below.

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    Rojak Merah (Malaysian Fruit Salad) - Nyonya-style fruit salad - fresh pineapple, apple, mango, jicama and cucumber tossed in a spicy sweet sauce and sprinkled with crushed peanuts.
    My friend ordered this one and frankly, looking at the description, there's no way I ever would have but I ended up really loving it -- more than he did, in fact. The sauce/dressing was very sweet but also quite spicy and it worked very well with the fruit and veg. I even liked its graininess. Great flavors and textures here.

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    Murtabak - Indian bread stuffed with egg, onion and tamarind minced beef served with curry chicken dipping sauce.
    Intense, eggy and oniony, this kind of reminded me of something one might order at Eggholic. As good as it was, the highlight may have been the dipping sauce, which would have been a great dish on its own or even with some plainer bread, like roti.

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    Otak-Otak - Nyonya-style fish cake made with ground whitefish, mixed with spices, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.
    Before . . .

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    Otak-Otak - Nyonya-style fish cake made with ground whitefish, mixed with spices, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.
    . . . and after. This one, I didn't really care for. Not only was it too fishy for me but there was so much seasoning, it actually imparted a pronounced bitter note to every bite.

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    Live Chili Crab - world famous Singapore Chili Crab stir-fried with ginger, garlic, shallots and chilies in a thick, sweet and savory egg and tomato sauce. Despite its name, the dish is not very spicy. Served with fried buns.
    No, that's not a condom in the lower left or a wet-nap, it's some disposable plastic gloves, which I didn't use. I'm generally not a fan of whole, cracked crab dishes like these. Very messy and a lot of work for not so much pay off. That said, this was immaculately fresh and the chili sauce was really nice -- bright, spicy, sweet and well balanced.

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    Nasi Goreng - Malaysian-style fried rice with shrimp paste, prawns and mixed vegetables.
    A really solid dish. Loved the intensity from the shrimp paste and wouldn't have been unhappy with more of it.

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    Char Koey Teow - flat noodles, chili, shrimp, rice cake & bean sprouts.
    Until last week, I'd never heard of this dish. Then, I saw a few videos about it at youtube, became immediately obsessed and made it at home. So, it was quite a nice coincidence to, so soon after that, have an authentic version. Ingredient-wise, this one seemed more austere than most of the takes I saw on youtube but I loved the wok hei on those noodles and the black pepper brought a warm, enjoyable heat to the dish.

    Really enjoyed the food here. We got full much earlier than we anticipated or wanted to, so there were quite a few other things we wished we could have tried (but never got to). Hoping to go back sooner than later to delve a little further into the menu. The only things I'd do differently next time are bring more ordering power and pre-game elsewhere before heading over to Kapitan for some solid fare.

    =R=

    Kapitan (website)
    2142 N Clybourn Ave
    Chicago, IL 60614
    (773) 661-2281
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #2 - October 12th, 2023, 6:53 pm
    Post #2 - October 12th, 2023, 6:53 pm Post #2 - October 12th, 2023, 6:53 pm
    Note that HD Cuisine in Wheeling makes a darn good Char Kway Teow (that's how they spell it, I think)
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #3 - October 12th, 2023, 11:04 pm
    Post #3 - October 12th, 2023, 11:04 pm Post #3 - October 12th, 2023, 11:04 pm
    JoelF wrote:Note that HD Cuisine in Wheeling makes a darn good Char Kway Teow (that's how they spell it, I think)


    So does Penang in Arlington Heights, if ordered to eat promptly onsite and preferably with a duck egg. The textures and wok hei deteriorate quickly when packaged. Their best showing was at the early noughties Penang in Chinatown where No. 18 Karaoke is now on Wentworth; the roti canai was peak too.
  • Post #4 - October 13th, 2023, 11:20 am
    Post #4 - October 13th, 2023, 11:20 am Post #4 - October 13th, 2023, 11:20 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:There are a few mentions of this place here but no dedicated thread. Let's remedy that.
    Was it busy at any point? It's a huge restaurant and on my one visit it was just us and one other table. The bartender was a friend of the server (both appeared to be under 25) who was filling in and wasn't quite sure how to make a gin and tonic. I thought the end had to be near for this place but that was over a year ago. Great they're still going.
  • Post #5 - October 13th, 2023, 12:03 pm
    Post #5 - October 13th, 2023, 12:03 pm Post #5 - October 13th, 2023, 12:03 pm
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:There are a few mentions of this place here but no dedicated thread. Let's remedy that.
    Was it busy at any point? It's a huge restaurant and on my one visit it was just us and one other table. The bartender was a friend of the server (both appeared to be under 25) who was filling in and wasn't quite sure how to make a gin and tonic. I thought the end had to be near for this place but that was over a year ago. Great they're still going.

    Funny that you ask because the answer is a notable and very noticeable no. We were pretty much the only people in there except for a couple of folks at the bar (one possibly affiliated with the restaurant) who left before 5pm and one other 2-top that came in towards the end of our visit. A few bagged orders shipped out from the end of the bar while we were there. As far as I could tell, there wasn't even a server. Bartender appeared to be the only FOH but since we sat at the bar, that would have been true for us, regardless.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #6 - May 18th, 2024, 9:57 am
    Post #6 - May 18th, 2024, 9:57 am Post #6 - May 18th, 2024, 9:57 am
    Enjoyed a wide-ranging carryout order from Kapitan this week and it was solid and colorful as depicted by Ronnie above, with each umami-packed sauce individually notable. The beef and chicken satay were a cut above, and we also demolished the softshell crab fried rice and Hokkien char mee, which have some zhajiangmian dark depth going on. In addition to the nam yee pork belly (reminiscent of Andy's Thai Kitchen prep), we had the stewed pork belly with potato and cilantro stems which was unctuous but balanced. I would order each dish again.

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