Here’s a post dedicated to reviews and eating out in Chicago, including a super duper Chicago Rib Fest!!

Consuming all these meals within 48 hours is recommended…once in a while.

chicago ribfest 2009This weekend, the boyfriend and I headed to the 2009 Chicago Ribfest to sample some good old ribs…which isn’t exactly Chicago’s forte…but NONETHELESS, we were missing our ribs! This 3-block long fest had live bands, 6 different rib kiosks (including seitan ribs), vendors, ice-cream stands, funnel cakes…and much much more!

ribfest grilling

Stop #1: Smoke Daddy’s Rib Sampler!

For $5, we got 3 pieces of ribs and a buffet of bbq sauces. Our verdict of Smoke Daddy’s? DRY DRY ribs but yummy, smoky, flavorful BBQ sauce. We wondered where the “fall off the bone” meat went…

Smoke daddy's ribs

Even topped with sauce…you can see how dry and charred it was.

smoke daddy's ribs

Stop #2: Chicken Gyros

Unsatisfied by those ribs, the bf and walked past a gyros stand and I couldn’t resist but buy this uber delicious meal in a tin foil. BEST chicken I’ve had in my entire life…the chicken was moist, smoky, and intermixed with caramelized onions. It was topped with this awesome feta and yogurt sauce…man…SO GOOD.

Chicken Gyros at Ribfest

Stop #3: Hickory’s BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwich

I know…I should have stopped at just the gyros and the ribs, but I REALLLLY had a craving for pulled pork. For $6, we got this sandwich from Hickory’s. UH. Unfortunately, I only got through half because the sauce was way too salty and way too sour all at once. However, the pork was hot and tender.

pulled pork sandwich ribfest

My overall review of the Ribfest?? Don’t buy Ribs from a Ribfest where the meat isn’t BBQ’d in a real kitchen. Go for the Chicken Gyros instead. :P

(P.s. For those wondering about the vegan Ribs, they were 3 pieces of seitan skewers slathered with BBQ sauce for $6. I was not impressed so didn’t spend any money on it.)

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Koi

Japanese & “Chinese” $$

Koi is one of my favorite fusion/Asian restaurants in Chicago! Koi doesn’t have an extensive menu, but their spices and flavors are always spot on, though not necessarily always “authentic”.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Shrimp & Tofu ($5)

Inside the rice paper were a sorta skimpy amount of shrimp, basil, and tofu, but lots of rice noodles. What made this dish awesome was the peanut dipping sauce!! Nick and I tried not to drench our rolls in sauce, but the dish was CLEAN by the end of the rolls.

Koi vietnamese summer rolls

Koi Maki ($13)

I had been craving some good old sushi, so we ordered a Koi special roll that consisted of tuna & avocado on the inside, then it’s topped with slices of mango and more avocado. It was yummy, but I prefer my sushi without the sweet contrast from the ripe mango – though most people probably wouldn’t complain about that! Koi Koi Maki Roll

We split 2 entrees between the bf and I, and both came with a large refillable bowl of white Jasmine rice.

Sesame Shrimp (~$14)

This was AWESOME!! Though I’m not normally a fan of battered/fried/sweet&sour food, these shrimps were big, lightly coated in batter, and fried. Somehow the chef managed to keep the shrimp sweet, succulent, and PERFECTLY cooked so it was chewy and not rubbery. The sauce itself was addictive. Unlike those sweet and sour chicken/pork dishes you find at say, Panda Express, the sauce was liquidy and tart. Paired with lots of sesame seeds, spring onion, and served on top a bed of fried rice noodle pieces, this was seriously…the best sesame shrimp I’ve had in my life. Koi sesame shrimp

Scallop & Vegetables in Light Gravy (~$14)

(No picture, sorry!) There is no such thing a sauce called “light gravy” in Chinese food, but whatever the sauce my veggies and scallops came in was really nice, light, garlicy, and a delightful. I did have to ask for siracha though…fyi. No complaints with this dish, it was just really yummy, the scallops were scant but cooked well. Perfect with rice and PERFECT paired with the sweet and sour flavors of the shrimp.

My favorite thing about not-truly-authentic Asian restaurants?? FORTUNE COOKIES!!! (Unpictured because it was devoured too quickly)

RATINGS

Taste: 4/5 (Entrees were excellent, appetizers could use a little help)

Originality: 3.5/5

Plating: 3.5/5 (Elegantly served, but not shockingly gorgeous)

Value: 4/5 (It’s really yummy…good “Chinese”/Asian food)

Service: 4/5 (No complaints, no wowing)

Koi Sushi & Chinese on Urbanspoon

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Of course…you can’t be in Evanston without getting yourself a large cup of Red Mango regular fro-yo with mochi and blueberries right?!?!Red Mango

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Frankie’s Scaloppine

Italian $$-$$$

I’m not the hugest fan of Italian restaurants because the dishes can go either way – drenched in oil, or light and refreshing. Frankie’s would be the former. All the dishes were heavy on seasoning, flavor, and butter.

We started off with the complimentary bread basket. The bf and I both agreed that the bread was WAY too salted, inside and out. Even though the bread itself had a fluffy & doughy texture (that I liked), the salt in this was SO overwhelming even the bread-lover in Nick couldn’t bring himself to pick up a second piece.

Frankie's Bread Basket

Calamari My Way (~$8)

Crispy and chewy, this calamari was really yummy dipped in the warm marinara sauce. It does however leave a ring of grease on your lips, so beware.

Fankie's Calamari

Frankie’s Chopped Salad ($9)

Better re-named to the bacon-izer salad, this chopped salad was super flavorful even without the dressing thanks to the MANY MANY MANY pieces of bacon bits throughout. I liked the flavor a lot, but found the pasta way over-chilled and texture-less.

Frankie's chopped salad with bacon

Smothered Brick Chicken ($16)

This was the boyfriend’s dish and consisted of a piece of chicken breast cooked in a pail of butter (clearly) with a brick on top to squish it flat. Then it’s topped with an array of mixed peppers. Though the chicken was moist, the boyfriend and I were both wondering if Frankie’s wanted to use up all their butter for the night in his dish. Frankie's Pepper Brick Chicken

Daily special – Lemon-butter Halibut ($21)

I didn’t think this dish was worth it for $21. The fish had a breading over it and pan-fried in butter (I couldn’t taste ANY lemon whatsoever). I don’t know what I was thinking when I ordered this, but again the asparagus was floating a pool of butter. The bottom of the fish where it was in contact with the butter sauce was so drenched in oil the breading got soggy and fell apart in the plate. Nevertheless, the flavors were great!! (That’s the redeeming factor)

Frankie's Seared Halibut in Lemon Butter

Tiramisu ($6)

I guess this was the best part of the meal. hahahaha.  A nice creamy hunk of tiramisu…cold and indulgent straight from the kitchen.

Frankie's Tiramisu

RATINGS

Taste: 3.5/5 (Good flavors, but man, the chef needs to chill out with the butter!)

Originality: 3/5 (Nothing on the menu especially interesting for an Italian restaurant)

Plating: 3.5/5

Value: 2/5 (I would not recommend anyone come here)

Service: 3.5/5 (Just fine)

Frankie's Scaloppine on Urbanspoon

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Now, just a heads up, a giveaway will be coming up soon (the biggest one I’ve ever done!!) so keep your pretty eyes peeled!!

So I’m curious, What was the last “indulgent” meal you had? What made it so indulgent?

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