Hi, I'm Lu!

A PhD Student at University of Chicago who loves discovering the world and trying new eats! Hope you enjoy!

Slurping Turtle: Before and after

Slurping Turtle is a modern looking eatery that serves foods from Chef Takashi’s childhood.  However, the noodles used to be a sore disappointment every time we went, and nothing else really stood out except for the appetizers and desserts.  Recently, though, they seemed to have revamped their menu so we had to go try it out.  Thus, this is a review of the past and the present at this Japanese restaurant. Some of my favorites at Slurping Turtle are the hot tapas.  The pork belly snack (Figure 1) and duck fat fried chicken (Figure 2) are as fatty and delicious as their names portray them to be.  To start a meal, these are a must have!

Figure 1. Pork belly snack

Figure 2. Duck fat fried chicken

If you would like to begin with something on the other end of the health spectrum, try the homemade silky tofu (Figure 3).  It’s a small tower, with a soft brick of flavorful fried tofu as a base, soaked in ginger-soy unami.  Watch out – this sauce is a bit strong on the ginger…  But the scallions, oba leaves and bonito flakes topping off this tower are impeccable tofu companions.

Figure 3. Homemade silky tofu

I’m not a fan of sushi, but Andrew loves it, so of course he couldn’t leave the restaurant without trying the sashimi plate (Figure 4).  He says that on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being sushi from a grocery store and 10 being sushi from Morimoto, Slurping Turtle’s sashimi is at a 7.  That’s above satisfactory, right?

Figure 4. Sashimi plate

Before the menu was edited, we had tried the grilled salmon bento box (Figure 5).  Honestly, it was just so-so; if there was no soy sauce for the salmon, I would have been overly disappointed.  However, it may have been improved, although we have yet to try.

Figure 5. Grilled Salmon Bento Box

Now for a compare and contrast of the Tonkotsu ramen (Figure 6 & 7).  Before the reworked menu, this was perhaps the most inadequate ramen I’ve ever had in a restaurant (Figure 6).  The broth was this thick, milky soup that had a lack of flavor.  Plus, it made my mouth dry.  As a result, all the contents in the bowl lost their zest.

Figure 6. Tonkotsu ramen: before

But now, whoever cooks the Tonkotsu ramen has taken some serious steps to improve it.  And they have succeeded (Figure 7).  This bowl just calls for you to slurp it all up when placed in front of you.  And we had no trouble doing it!

Figure 7. Tonkotsu ramen: now

Another noodle dish that can’t be missed is the nabe-yaki udon (Figure 8).  The soy dashi broth was savory and perfect for the tempura shrimp and vegetables.  I wish I didn’t leave some of the tempura sitting in the broth, though, because they lost their crispiness.  Anyways, the only part that’s lacking in this soup is the chicken.  Even in the broth, it was dry and difficult to eat.  Ignore the chicken and just slurp up the soft udon instead!

Figure 8. Nabe-yaki udon

Finally to the dessert!  The macaroons here are certainly worth a try since they have interesting flavors you may not get elsewhere (Figure 9).

Figure 9. Macaroon flight of (from front) oba, chocolate-sesame, red bean, yuzu, and caramel soy macaroons

Ever since Beard Papa’s closed downtown, I think Slurping Turtle has the best cream puffs in town (Figure 10).  So if you have that craving for a sweet, cream-filled pastry, Slurping Turtle is the place to go.

Figure 10. Coconut cream puff

The quail egg shooter (Figure 11) is interesting, but if you only want one dessert, you may be better off trying the cream puffs or ice cream.

Figure 11. Quail egg shooter

The oshiruko (Figure 12) is newly added, but it’s just a sweet red bean soup, which you could get at basically any restaurant in Chinatown for half the price.  But there are rice dumplings and oba in this.

Figure 12. Oshiruko: red bean soup

And best for the last: black sesame ice cream (Figure 13).  This blew my mind.  It wasn’t overly sweet, and the black sesame flavors completely came through.  I wish this was sold in pint or quart sized containers.  Plus, black sesame is supposed to be good for your hair!

Figure 13. Black sesame ice cream

Tips:

  1. If you order the nabe-yaki udon, watch out – it’s SUPER hot.  Don’t burn your mouth!  Also, the chicken is dry in this dish…
  2. Ice cream and cream puffs are the way to go for dessert here.
  3. If you did not find Slurping Turtle to be satisfactory when you went a while ago, this is definitely a place to give another try.

Rating:

4.0 Rating

There are still some aspects of the dishes that I'm still not completely satisfied with, but Slurping Turtle has improved immensely!  Perhaps the ramen chef at Takashi came to this eatery...

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