Obi Wasabi Kenobi: Chicago, IL

Stumbling through the door way, I was given a second life by the smell of sizzling shrimp and rich pork broth. It was my birthday, and a low-key meal with the family had been the night’s MO. I wasn’t quite sure how we got there, but my hands were already moving to unbuckle my belt a notch or two. I was ready for some umami* (savory) flavor and definitely kaedama (extra noodles).

The last couple of years, the men in my family have been asserting their dominance by producing home brewed liquid am”bro”sia. Maybe it was a hint about my weak identity politics or because my girlfriend recently took me to a brewing class at Brooklyn’s hipster-chic Biter & Esters. Either way, birthday boy & crew gladly jump at the suggestion to regroup at the Revolution Brewing tap room. Armed with Yelp and my favorite anti-hero IPA, we headed out to find a Logan Square BYOB establishment that met the demands of my stomach.

Wasabi. In middle school, I was pressured into a wasabi eating contest where I ate so much wasabi that I regurgitated green mush all over the table at a fine dining establishment. When I saw Wasabi appear in my Yelp search, it seemed like a signal from dios to overcome my fear of the substance.

Apologies for the tangent.

We find ourselves drunk, drooling, and hangry in Wasabi's entrance way. Our waiter whisked us away, and he impressed us with his friendly attitude & strong banter. Within minutes, we had placed our orders and began eyeing our neighbors’ dishes. Everything looked so good!

The first thing to arrive were the Pork Belly Buns. OMG. I don’t normally eat pork due to a graphic environmentalist documentary, but I make exceptions (mainly South Carolina style pulled pork). These buns were this, that, and a whole bag of chips. They melted in your mouth and were perfectly paired with the warm bun and tang of the sesame mayo.

Besides the hot buns, all the wasabi dishes were tantalizing!

·       Shoyu Ramen beat some of NYC’s top ramen shops

$13 - egg noodle, rich pork broth, berkshire pork belly, spinach, soft boiled egg, marinated bamboo shoot, scallion, sesame, seaweed

·       The Hamachi Kama is probably responsible for the 2016 world series results.

$13 - grilled yellowtail collar, sea salt, daikon radish, house ponzu

·       The toro nigiri may be the cure to cancer. (I’m a snob about my tuna quality)

Market price - fatty tuna

The crew left wasabi hungry & happy!

Thus ends one night of debauchery and my first blog post. Stay tuned for more adventures…

*If curious, umami is one of the five basic tastes which is sensed due to activation of glutamate receptors [like activation via MSG – monosodium glutamate]. While others focused on studying neurological diseases in my molecular neurophysiology class, I spent most of my time trying to understand the molecular underpinnings of hedonistic pleasures. Here are a couple fun facts: the tongue map localization of taste is a myth and scientists recently synthesized fake meat that bleeds and has umami! Shoot me a message if you want more stream-of-(un)consciousness rambling.
Pork Buns

Pork Buns

Shoyu Ramen

Shoyu Ramen