Posted on 22 November 2011 by Deborah J. Yoon
Korean Food USA is a new series that showcases Korean and Korean-inspired eateries all around the nation.
If you’ve been following Top Chef Texas for the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed Beverly Kim, Chef de Cuisine at Aria. Chef Kim, who is heavily influenced by her mother’s cooking (she cooked her mom’s nakji bokkeum to qualify as a contestant), is not afraid of taking risks when it comes to her dishes. At Aria, settled in the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago, IL, Kim creates flavorful pan-Asian dishes and promises diners to give them a “new world Asian experience.”
As soon as Chef Kim grabbed the octopus from the pantry, we had a gut feeling she was going to make nakji bokkeum as her first Top Chef dish.
To start the meal, Aria brings India to the table with their complementary Naan bread with four dipping sauces: yogurt with cardamom, lentil, cashew, and spinach. For appetizers and entrees, Aria has a very eclectic and diverse menu that contain locally-sourced, organic and sustainable ingredients. The Korean Spicy Bouillabaisse fuses Korean flavors with American cuisine; it is made of Nantucket cod, scallops, clams, braised radish, and rice cakes in a delicious broth. Another fantastic dish is the Quail Egg and Pork Belly Kimchi Stacks, made with kimchi, mung bean blini and black garlic aoli.
Chef Kim said that she would be a kimchi if she were a food: “I would be kimchi since it is funky, spicy and addictive which matches my eccentric, yet soulful personality.”
Top Chef Texas airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on Bravo. Look out for Korean American chefs Beverly Kim, 610 Magnolia‘s Edward Lee, and Wilshire Restaurant‘s Nyesha Arrington, who says that her Korean grandmother influenced her diverse palate.
200 N Columbus Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
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[Photos: Rich Hein/ Chicago Sun-Times; Bravo]