Monday, May 10, 2010


At 110 West Illinois, maybe my expectations were way too high walking in the door so that anything but brilliance would be a let down. I really wanted to like this place more than I did…but there were some positives.

First off, the place is GORGEOUS…designed by world- renowned restaurant and hotel designer Tony Chi, this space is very sleek and modern and more like something you would see in New York City instead of Chicago. I elected to sit outside because the sun was shining and it was an almost perfect spring Chicago day. Almost perfect… like my lunch.

The reviews on this place are all over the board. Quite frankly, either people really love it or they are not a fan at all. I am waiting to pass out the stars until they get a few things worked out...and there are definitely some things to be worked out.

Sunda is owned by the trio who does Rocket Bar and Grill and the Underground. Executive Chef Rodelio Aglibot, a.k.a the “Food Buddha”,throws a “New Asian” flair on the menu which has a extensive selection of items to drool over.

I fixed on a noodle dish – the Pancit Canton. With crispy pork, Lap Cheong (my new favorite ingredient to fool with – Chinese sausage with the most remarkable flavor), shrimp (which I did not like in the mix at all), carrots, cabbage and egg noodles.

When it arrived at the table I was, without delay, disappointed. This dish had way too much going on and with the simple elegance of this restaurant, it was a mismatch.

Too much food! Three people could have split this dish and still have been full so my first advice would be to cut the portions in half and charge $9.00 instead of $14.00. Most people these days would rather see smaller plates and lower prices.

When you marry noodles (way too many in this dish) with lettuce and vegetables, the veggies need to be “slightly” crunchy and these were overcooked. One thing I did love about the dish was the flavor of the Lap Cheong.

When I go back…and there will be a next time because you can’t let one disappointing experience dictate your judgment, I’ll try the Kobe Beef Tartare. That dish has up and down great reviews.
Although I did not get four straight weeks of perfect meals, with a little work, this place can go a long way in making your dining experience exciting.

Sunda has the formula…now they just need to settle on the execution.

Bon Appetit!