"All Hail the Crispy Rice King...because my palate is so pleased, a crown is surely in order."
Me after my 1st taste of the Lobster Crispy Rice at Tokio Pub.
Left to Right: Tuna, Salmon, Shrimp, Lobster, & Crab Crispy Rice
On any given Friday if you take a stroll through the Streets of Woodfield you will find clusters of consumers roaming the parking lot in search of where to stop & spend their evening. Far in the distance sits the ever popular Lettuce Entertain You eatery, Shaw's Crabhouse. As you get closer the chaos seems to go calm, the sea of people splits & and your sight is drawn to glowing red lights tucked away to the right. Tokio Pub comes into view and neon lamps begin to draw you in...
Walking into Tokio Pub for the 1st time certainly evokes the "Wow Factor". You are immediately transported to a city chic Japanese Pub with an underground vibe, not what one would expect to find in the Suburban Playground that is the Streets of Woodfield. The decor is super cool & ultra urban with lots of thought provoking images that catch the eye; Chandeliers made of old antique fan parts, yellow neon lights that peek out playfully along the walls, & even funky Japanese art work showcasing Godzilla, large postage prints reading Osaka Japan & get this, there's even an octopus dressed in Samurai Ninja gear...who seems to slightly resembles Inky from Pac-Man if you ask me. The bar is small, but perfectly proportioned and looks like a great place to belly up post 5 o'clock with a few friends for a night that encourages an alka seltzer come morning. But enough about the decor...let's talk taste!
Passion Pineapple Punch
Once you're seated the servers come equipped with fresh glass bottles of water that are left behind for the table...this is useful when indulging in a spice driven meal. Before any food decisions were made...the cocktail orders began! TPub's libation selection is absolutely lovely, offering Asian flare, fruity fun & edgy martinis alongside Pub Brews & even Sparkling Sake. We opted to start with a pitcher of Passion Fruit Punch complete with charred Pineapple & Fresh Raspberries. And I must say, the pitcher option is such a favorable choice to have when dining on tapas with a group. Some of the guests went with the Pub brews, their favorites were the big cans of Sapporo and the Daisy Cutter, brewed by local Chicago Brewing Co. Half Acre. All in all, the cocktails I had a chance to taste were fabulous & just so fresh. I don't think there is one you can go wrong with...my favorites, Passion Punch & the Yuzu Margarita. As we move onto food we are pleased to get a slew of suggestions from our server, she knew her food & could answer all our questions...commendable!
Crispy Tofu Squares
Out came the first plates!! Starting with the Crispy Tofu...so delicate & crispy! It is served with an Asian Honey dipping sauce that is quite delicious. I dare any Non Tofu Lover to try these & not want another...such a good way to start the meal! These crispy square blocks of tofu happened to be my favorite from the "Salads & Vegetables" section of the menu; however, the Perfect Green Salad was delightful and encouraged a flavor sensation! Fresh watercress, crunchy romaine, & distinctive cilantro with a light Asian vini, it was memorable. We also enjoyed the Ginger Garlic Edamame, it was very flavorful & a nice change up to the same old steamed edamame starter.
Moving on to sashimi & the showstopper. Adorning our table next my eyes immediately went for the most beautiful Tuna Tartare, accompanied by a little white bag stamped tokio pub filled with crispy chips. The plate was wet with yuzu juice, a perfect sphere of bright green guacamole & shiny red raw tuna. Served with tortillas chips that not only to they fry in house...they make them in house...everyday...this makes me smile. The chips were perfect, tuna buttery, great guac & the yuzu juice...yum. Enough about sashimi though, moving onto the showstopper....let's talk Crispy Rice.
The Crispy Rice menu offers an array of options: 2, 3 or best value being the Combination Platter at 5 Pieces of darn right deliciousness. The crispy exterior on the rice is absolutely divine & could rival any deep fried crust competition winner. As you bite right into the piping hot rice, you'll notice the taste of something secret & salty, but distraction immediately follows as my palate focuses on the topping. Toppings include Tuna, Salmon, Shrimp, Crab & lobster. My favorite, most definitely the Lobster Crispy Rice, which happened to be my husband's as well. I was sure the seafood had to be fresh considering this Pub's Elite neighbor, and it was confirmed once I tasted the buttery shellfish topping this divine little bite. I'd say the Crispy Rice was not only my FAVORITE thing on the menu, but hands down, TPUB has the best crispy rice Chicago has to offer.
Robata Grilled Chicken Meatballs
After sharing a mini moment with my Crispy Rice we moved onto the Robata Grilled Goodies. Referred to as the "Cadillac of Grilling" in Food & Wine Magazine, the Robata is an authentic Japanese Grill that is certain to char & create for sticky savory skewered sensations! Oooos & Ahhhhs occurred when our next set of plates arrived, and again we were ready to feast. BBQ Pork Belly was what I went for 1st. For newbies to the Pork Belly, it's meaty, salty, bacon like, pork like, try it to say you did, promise you will enjoy yourself. The Char Grilled Robata Chicken Meatballs Skewers are flecked with Thai Basil & covered in a sweet sticky sauce, definitely my favorite for it's interesting flavors. Favorites of my friends were the Crying Tiger Shrimp complete with Sriracha Spicy Sauce & Grill Marks, as well as the Steak & Scallion Yakitori perfectly cooked & very peppery.
Top to Bottom: Braised Pork & Pineapple, Grilled Steak, Crispy Shrimp,
Angry Chicken with Kimchi, & Crispy Fish Tokio Tacos
Another part of the menu we were all salivating over...Asian Tacos, come on, how could you not be wondering what they taste like? And although we were fairly full from all the Pub Plates we had already consumed, we felt good & ready for another round. Long flat wooden plates complete with tiny tin holders came out with an array of tacos that looked more than inviting. Group favorite was decidedly the Braised Pork With Caramelized Pineapple, tasting of charred sweet pineapple chunks, slow cooked pork, & crunchy Asian goodies, this taco was Mmm Mmm good. Although...shortly after my encounter with the pork taco...I was hypnotized by the seafood they were serving up on these little tortillas! The Crispy Fish & Shrimp Tacos blast you down to baja & offer that Asian twist that made everything at Tokio Pub so appetizing. Again the crispy light tempura like batter offers the perfect crispy crunch & texture explosion, the sauces are packed with flavors of charred tomato & ginger, and the hot grilled homemade tortillas are chewy & the perfect parcel to carry these terrific tacos. And just when we thought there was no room to spare...our server slides the menu back across the table...Sweet Treats time.
Bag of Beignets
As though they had not just consumed enough plates to put us in a category ending with the word "teen", every guest at my tables eye widen when they see the bags of beignets. Two words I get really excited about...fried & dough. Out came the white stamped bags & inside rolling around were hot orbs covered in cinnamon & sugar. We bite into the center to find oozing molten chocolate hiding inside waiting to cover the corners of your mouth.And a little tip...dip these bad boys in the Passion Fruit Ice Cream, you can thank me later. The dessert was the perfect ending to this tasty Izakaya Meal...and when in doubt, order another bag of beignets!
Overall, I think Tokio Pub is a excellent new venue & addition to the eclectic eateries finally surfacing in the suburbs. They've taken the emerging Izakaya trend & truly picked the best parts of this funky fresh cuisine. The authentic Japanese Pub styled fusion food with influences of Thai, Korean, & Latin Flavors, really offer something for everyone as far as flavors. I love the small menu, simple creations & palate pleasing options I have tasted. The vibe is fresh,the staff is lively & the edgy hip restaurant decor is a must see! This new Lettuce Entertain You Resto is sizzling in the Streets of Woodfield & is sure to offer excitement to suburban folks in search of chic city eats!
1900 E Higgins
TPUB on FACEBOOK : https://www.facebook.com/TokioPub
TPUB on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Tokio_Pub
The Tastetress Tested Recommendations are all noted in: BOLD & Italics