Does champagne go with sushi? We have no idea, but we’re up to the challenge of finding out for you, dear readers, as we head to Bites Asian Tapas.
Setting the Scene
Bites is next door to one of our favorite haunts, Hutch, and we were curious about their offerings. Taking advantage of an early-week holiday off, we strolled in the muggy sunshine to check it out. We arrived around 12:45pm on the 4th of July, a Cubs home afternoon game-day. To our surprise, the restaurant was relatively empty – only a couple tables were occupied in the restaurant area and one or two more on the patio. The small bar had one patron and a view of the sushi chefs at work, as well as a couple TVs, showing various sporting events. The music was fun and energizing and the staff friendly.
Amenities and Accessibility
The sidewalk in this part of the neighborhood is narrow, which may prove troublesome during busy event days in the summer or snowy days in the winter. The entryway has a narrow ramp and there are no steps in the spacious dining room. There didn’t appear to be a ramp to access the back patio, but there may be an alternate entrance that we didn’t see. Any help from our readers on this would be most appreciated!
Food and Drink
Brunch is 11am-3pm, with $18 bottomless mimosas, daily. The menu features more traditional style breakfast fare with an Asian twist, as well as ramen, sandwiches, apps, and sushi.
Becky and Jodie were both overwhelmed with all of the choices offered by the menu, so decided to share the cauliflower hash browns and a half roll of the “Bite Me” signature maki. The roll was beautifully presented: filled with soft-shell crab, jalapeño, cilantro, avocado, and cucumber, and topped with seared escolar, sake, spicy mayo, unagi sauce, and scallion. It was delightful and we were so glad we only got the half-roll, as it was extremely filling.
The cauliflower hash browns were more like giant cauliflower pancakes topped with crispy scallions, practically a meal in themselves. They were full of cauliflower flavor and tender, but we decided out of all of the food we ordered, those would keep best to be re-heated at home.
Out of the many tempting dishes on the menu, Becky decided on the Soft Shell Crab Sliders, two slider-style sandwiches filled with fried soft shell crab, fresh tomato, arugula, Japanese curry mayo, and unagi sauce. The bun was soft, the crab was crispy and flavorful, without being too oily, and the tomato and arugula provided a fresh contrast to the crab. The curry mayo was not too overwhelming but offered a warming spicy flavor and the unagi sauce added a touch of sweetness. She would definitely order this again.
Jodie ordered the Chicken & Waffles: panko crusted boneless chicken thighs, Vietnamese style pandan waffles, with a coconut syrup drizzle.
While a standard dish at many a brunch, the Asian twists made this a truly unique dish. The fluffy waffles were flavored with a Vietnamese flavoring called pandan, which has a vanilla-like taste. The coconut syrup was warm and creamy, but subtle and just sweet enough to accent the waffles. The panko crusted chicken was crisp on the outside, but the chicken thighs were well-seasoned and perfectly tender amidst the formidable crunch. The dish was beautifully plated, sprinkled with blueberries and a strawberry, with a flourish of freshly-made whipped cream. It was incredibly filling and satisfying, and the unexpected flavors were truly a delight.
Dinner, served from 3-10pm offers a variety of specials, including a $15 Ramen/Sapporo/hot sake shot on Tuesdays. This might be best enjoyed in the icy depths of a Chicago Winter. We may be back to test this theory later in the year.
Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 4-6. Plenty of tapas-style small plates and drink deals. We will be back to sample these delights at a later date.
The chalk art on the walls is really well done! Bravo/brava to the artist!
We give Bites a toothsome 8 out of 10. The food was flavorful, filling, and inventive; the staff friendly and the ambience impeccable. The only thing holding them back was the mimosas themselves. At $18 per person, they were not only too expensive, but too juicy for our tastes and made with J Roget champagne, our least favorite brand. We are very excited to return to this understated gem of a restaurant.
Pro Tips – Optimize Your Experience
- We usually recommend avoiding this area during the busy summer months, but as Bites isn’t strictly a bar, you may have better luck finding seating and food here than other restaurants nearby.
- Ask for the juice on the side with your mimosa order, to mix to your taste.
- Pace your order. It might have been from the over-juiced mimosas, but we barely got through one carafe by the time our food arrived. If you get the mimosas, pace your ordering to coincide with your drinks.
- Take advantage of their Happy Hour deals. We didn’t get a chance to sample their delights this time around, but the deals are too good to pass up. We will report back with our findings!