We usually just have one dinner out when we are in Chicago for Thanksgiving as we tend to leave on Sunday, but this time we stayed the Sunday night too and had dinner with my ex-boss Ashley and her husband, who live in town. Embeya had also been on my list for quite a while and my friend Nanda went a couple of years ago and raved about it. My sister-in-law also loves it and as we don’t have many fantastic Thai restaurants in London, we were excited to try it.
The space is beautiful and the menu is interesting and mouth-watering. Coincidentally, Ashley had been there the previous week and mentioned two dishes that she had tried and loved and she was excited to have them again. We shared everything so we could try as much as possible…
What we ate:
Seared tuna with roasted beets, Thai chili and coconut milk: large and beautifully ink seared tuna topped with a light and whipped coconut milk foam/mousse that was extremely creamy and light and beets that had been roasted twice, acquiring a slightly chewy but sweet texture that was interesting, new, and very good.
Charred lamb meatballs with kale sprouts, Asian pear and nuoc cham: these were perfectly sized meatballs in a very light and delicate broth and tossed with crispy kale and the raw pear that added a nice crunch to the dish. Very good!
Roasted maitake mushrooms, dashi, pine nuts and rosemary: Ashley had tried this dish before and loved it and as I am a total sucker for anything mushroomy we ordered it. Even though it was described as a maitake dish, we were excited to get a combination of gorgeous mushrooms of all types. The dish was light but extremely flavourful from the dashi and rosemary broth.
Grilled beef jerky with red kuri squash and pickled golden raisins: I am not the biggest beef-lover, but I could have this dish every day of my life. I LOVED it. I didn’t think this was like beef jerky at all as the gorgeous meat was seared and very juicy, sliced and served with a caramelized but not overly-sweet squash and the pickled raisins.
Rock shrimp udon noodle, black trumpet mushroom, yellow curry: we all voted for ordering this dish and even though it was still good, the other main courses were even better. The curry was creamy and fragrant with an abundance mushrooms of all kinds and the shrimp was cooked perfectly.
Roasted cod, Brussels sprouts, chestnuts, nori, ginger: gorgeous, flaky and perfectly roasted cod with thinly sliced brussels sprouts, dusted with nori and sprinkled with chestnut batons for texture. Light and delicious.
Pork chop satay braised kimchi, yuzu apple sauce: this was the best dish of the evening! The pork was succulent and tender and the kimchi was not too spicy, reminding me a little more of traditional braised cabbage, which paired perfectly with the subtly sweet apple sauce.
Thai coffee ice cream, fudge cake, white chocolate mousse, coconut-chili crumble, mint: the waiter surprised us with desserts on the house, probably because Attila, the lovely manager knows my sister in law, as she has been to Embeya on a few occasions. I tend to prefer more classic desserts and the gorgeous deconstructed versions tend to be beautiful but not scrumptious. In this case, it was both, and it combined a creamy and perfect coffee ice cream (Stewart’s favourite flavour) with fudge cake (my favourite) and the coconut and chili crumble made it original and new, and added a nice kick while the mint added freshness.
Steamed baked apple, black tea, five spice, taro frozen yogurt: we liked this but preferred the other dessert. My favourite part was the taro frozen yoghurt as I love unique flavours and this reminded me slightly of some of the ice creams I grew up eating in Brazil, such as corn!
In sum: I am definitely planning on going back to Embeya when we go back to Chicago next year. It is a beautiful restaurant with original and interesting food that I would like to eat again and again. Attila, can you come and do a pop-up in London please?
Embeya Chicago http://www.embeya.com/index.html