Kabocha: Chicago Restaurant Week 2014

Closed as of 2/16/2014. Enjoy the memories…

Kabocha Soup

An architectural journey into soup.

I don’t know about you, but my Chicago Restaurant Week experience has been on delay due to the weather and an inability to abandon the warmth of my couch/convenience of delivery. A week extension to the 7th annual food frenzy has turned out to be a good thing for my appetite.

I started CRW 2014 at Kabocha, a Japanese Brasserie located in the West Loop just off the Pink Line at Morgan. Literally just steps. I got a table with a great view of folks zooming in and out of the station. It wasn’t too distracting or loud, and added a bit of coziness and gave a pulse to the restaurant. I loved the decor here, too. Especially the wooden chandeliers, modern organic elements, and textural pop-art.

Kabocha Tofu

Subbed in the Silken Tofu for a vegetarian option.

After our waiter saw we took some time to compare the prix fixe menu to the regular menu, he shared that the menu was a round-up of their most popular items and that we could make substitutions. I appreciated both the flexibility as well as the attentiveness of our server throughout the evening. He really took care of our table.

We ended up selecting the Hamachi Sashimi and Kabocha Squash Soup for the first course. The hamachi was silky, fresh and balanced nicely by a red pepper pear coulis and diced honey crisp apple. I didn’t think I would like it, but it was nicely done. Even better was the squash soup — creamy, smooth and perfect for a cold night. The roasted leaves from Brussels Sprout added toastiness and the candied Eringi mushroom gave it texture as well as sweet. I want another bowl.

kabocha banana pudding

End the evening with banana pudding.

We subbed in the Seared Silken Tofu for our second course, since they didn’t have a vegetarian option listed for CRW. It was a good choice. The tofu was a perfect delivery vehicle for the saffron ginger relish, and married well with the rich red lentils and roasted carrots.

Roasted Red Salmon was our second choice, and was second best. The fish was slightly over-cooked and couldn’t quite compete with the overpowering celery root puree. The dish also needed more horseradish in the beurre blanc, there was just enough to be annoying.

Kabocha Prep

Prepping desserts at Kabocha.

We had a split decision on dessert, too. The Banana Bread Pudding was a lovely presentation, but the texture of the bananas was off-putting. I loved the delicious fig ice cream and butterscotch sauce that came on the side. More of this, please!

The Thai Chili Chocolate Torte was far better. I wish there was a little more chili or that it was better distributed, because when I got the “burn” it was quite lovely. The cranberries were the perfect counterpoint to the dense chocolate.

CRW did it’s job. I want to come back to experience more of the dinner menu at Kabocha for a date night, or try the beer & ramen noodle bar special after work. If you’re interested in partaking in Kabocha, you have until Thursday, February 6, to take advantage of special prix fixe menu. There’s still time!

Kabocha Japanese Brasserie
952 W Lake Street

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