Best Bites, Chicago

This week’s Best Bite: Baked potato bing bread, sesame leaves, hand-torn noodles & more, Parachute

Crispy sesame leaves

Crispy sesame leaves with bourbon barrel soy

Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: In the past few months, nearly every food critic in Chicago has published a glowing review of Parachute, helmed by Top Chef alum Beverly Kim and her husband Johnny Clark. After dining there, I can only agree that they’ve brought something very special to a quiet block in Avondale – even against financial odds, as covered in this fascinating Chicago Tribune feature. Every dish I tried was imaginative and memorable, which made the whole meal one of my favorites this year.

I was already blown away after sampling the two snacks we ordered: crispy sesame leaves and baked potato bing bread. The leaves were lightly fried in a tempura batter, then ready to plunge in a bourbon-soy dipping sauce. Both components enhanced the sesame flavor brilliantly and make it the kind of snack you’d want to order over and over. The bing bread left a similar impression, packing all the best parts of a loaded baked potato into an even more texturally appealing format. The soft bread was rich without being greasy, and the sour cream butter that came on the side was another subtle hint of genius.

Baked potato bing bread, Parachute

Baked potato bing bread with bacon, scallion, and sour cream butter

Makgeolli rice wine and oysters, Parachute

Locally brewed makgeolli rice wine and oysters with soju granita

I was also impressed by the soju granita that came with an exquisite duo of West Coast oysters; besides being visually stunning, it added a cool, floral complexity unlike a typical mignonette sauce. To pair with the oysters (and the rest of the meal), we ordered makgeolli, a Korean rice wine that was brewed locally by Slow City Brewing. This was my first experience with rice wine, and I was fascinated by how its milky appearance belied a beer-like yeast flavor. One last standout dish was the hand-torn noodles, a toothsome tangle of wide noodles and ground lamb. The dish reminded me of an elevated version of chili mac, especially because of the sweetness in the lamb sofrito balanced by cumin and peppery heat. I’m already looking forward to my next meal.

Hand-torn noodles with lamb sofrito, Parachute

Hand-torn noodles with spicy lamb sofrito, sichuan peppercorn, and cumin

The charming interior, with polka-dotted glass and parachutes as curtains

The charming interior, with polka-dotted glass and colorful parachutes as curtains

The details: Parachute, 3500 N. Elston Ave., Chicago.

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