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Posts Tagged ‘chinese’

For dinner last night I made a simple Chinese-flavored ground chicken stir-fry. For the sauce, I used fermented black bean and garlic sauce. It’s a real easy way to get a lot of flavor into a quick, healthy dish.

My ingredients included 1 carrot cut into half moons, 1/2 pound bean sprouts, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 10 green onions thinly sliced, 3 tablespoons of black bean and garlic sauce, a package of shiitake diced, 1 head of broccoli cut into florets, 1/2 inch ginger, minced, 3 cloves garlic minced, and 1 pound of ground chicken thigh.

First thing I did was to mix up the sauce. In a small dish I mixed the soy and black bean sauce. After tasting it, I decided to add a little sweetness so I mixed in 1 tablespoon of mirin. I set that aside and heated up a saute pan.

Once hot, I poured in about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and then added the ginger and garlic. I let them sizzle for about 30 seconds and then added the carrot and green onions. I sautéed them for about 3 minutes and then added the chicken. I broke up the chicken as it cooked for about 7 or 8 minutes and then added the shiitake. Once the shiitake were coated with the rest of the ingredients I added the sauce and mixed it around. At this time I put the broccoli into my steamer. Broccoli only needs about 4 minutes to steam to a nice al dente and at this point all I need to do with the stir-fry was let the sauce boil down a little and add some pepper and the bean sprouts. So, that’s what I did. Easy as that.

The other day Yuki had made some sweet potato rice that we didn’t finish. Instead of making new rice I decided to use that up. White rice probably would have matched better with the slightly salty dish, but the sweetness of the sweet potatoes wasn’t that bad of a match, and it added a higher nutritional value to the meal. So did my beer.

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So, Yuki had some coupons from unused miles on United Airlines. Last night we used one at Ai Sushi.  I dvr’d the Bears-Giants game and we headed down to Ontario St for some grub.

Parking was a pain because all of the meters were “For Residents Only Until Oct 4”. We did find a spot about a block away so we didn’t have to spend on valet. Tonight we could have gotten a spot right in front. Oh well, can’t blame that on the restaurant.

The interior is really nice. It has the open loft feel with exposed brick and wood beams. The art on the walls was not flashy at all and instead complimented the brick. Colors were soft and very intimate. It has a real nice setting inside.

I did use my phone’s camera, so these pics are terrible.

First thing we got was the Sunomono Moriawase. Shrimp, real crab meat, and octopus lightly cooked along with fluke sashimi in a dashi vinaigrette with daikon sticks and seaweed. It was really good, fresh fish and not to vinegary at all.

Next was one of the specials of the night, Wagyu Tobanyaki. 5 slices of real Kobe beef imported from Japan, enoki mushrooms, and shimeji mushrooms that you cook yourself on a hot stone with butter. The beef was so soft and delicious. It was definitely the real thing, none of that cow from Nebraska.

After that we each had a bowl of Kabocha Corn Soup. Simply a puree of kabocha and corn, probably with onion. It tasted like something I would make, which is to say it was pretty tasty.

Then came the Chawanmushi. A Chinese style egg custard with shiitake, shimeji, and enoki mushrooms. The custard was the perfect consistency. Not a fancy dish, but a good one.

The first maki roll we got was their Habanero Lobster. It had tempura lobster, kampyo, ginger, mango, avocado, habanero, capers, cilantro, and sour cream mayo. We’re not usually fans of rolls with more than a few ingredients, but this one was pretty good. That habanero packed a punch, but not so much that you couldn’t taste the lobster’s sweetness. It was pretty good. They also put a few slices of smoked duck on the plate. They serve smoked duck sushi and must have needed to get rid of it, but it tasted pretty good to me, so I didn’t mind.

The last thing we got was one of the night’s special rolls, Orange Maki. It had tempura shrimp and orange zest inside and was topped with salmon and black tobiko. It was really good! Light, sweet, and refreshing. I would definitely order that roll again. Also, there was more smoked duck on this plate.

We didn’t have any room for dessert and didn’t even look at the dessert menu so I can’t comment on that.

The service was professional. We never had to wait long for anything, we weren’t rushed or bothered to hurry up, and our server was very knowledgable of the menu. The only gripe I have, and it’s nitpicking, is that the food should have come out in a different order. The beef should have been last and soup served before the chawanmushi. Other than that, I have no complaints at all.

I would have to say that Ai is one of the better sushi restaurants we’ve been to in Chicago. I wouldn’t call it the best, but it is definitely worth while with some creative offerings as well as some classics, all very fresh and properly prepared. I would go back without hesitation.

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