From the masterminds behind the coveted Rockit
and celebrity-fave nightspot The Underground, Rockit Ranch Productions headed by Billy Dec, Arturo Gomez and Brad Young, bring Chicago to the Orient with Sunda. But leave your plane ticket and passport at home. Located in the heart of the River North area, Sunda serves traditional Asian dishes with modern presentations created by executive chef Rodelio Aglibot of the star-studded Koi and his own Yi Cuisine in Los Angeles.
The menu is filled with influences from all over Asia, including China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Try sushi favorites like The Food Buddha's (Aglibot's nickname) crispy rice, which is pan-fried and glazed with soy sauce and topped with spicy tuna that's hand cut, seared Kobe beef tartare or spicy shrimp tempura. Or try the baked snow crab handroll with Alaskan snow crab, dynamite sauce and tempura crispies. Main dishes include crispy pata, which is confit pork shank with garlic foie gras gravy and watercress salad, and the miso bronzed black cod with a hint of red curry and glazed eggplant. The longevity garlic noodles is served with blue crab among other noodle dishes while a full sushi bar offers sushi, sashimi and nigiri assortments.
And don't think a vodka soda will do here. Instead try the kung pau mango for something spicy yet sweet or the peared sake made with pineapple, ginger syrup and a cinnamon rim.
And just like its dishes, Sunda's interior is customary yet contemporary, making it sleek and stylish with Asian inspired decor added with a mix of different textures of French-polished black bamboo to red travertine marble. Accommodating 200 guests, the dining room takes a large part of the loft-like space yet is combined with a cocktail lounge, sushi bar and private dining room. So be sure to dress to the nines. There is no such thing as a dark corner here to hide.
Sunda kicked off its brunch service in May, with a wide variety of specials including the "Loco Moco" (hamburger steak topped with brown gravy and fried eggs over steamed rice, $12), the oxtail and potato "smash" (hash, fried eggs and horseradish creme, $13), lunch items like the chicken banh mi and crispy salmon salad, plus sushi, sashimi and more. Also, make sure to try a bloody mary - the selection of fixins at the bar is out of control.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Janis Mabalay