I’ve taken a couple of brief trips to Chicago lately, and of course, while there I made it a point to check out some of the local vegan restaurants. This past weekend I visited Amitabul Simply Vegan, an all-vegan Korean restaurant. From the outside, it looked like it would be on the small side; however, once inside, it was surprisingly spacious with ample seating and a casual vibe. While the benches were patchy and in need of reupholstering, the rest of the restaurant was clean and bright.
To start, we ordered the dumplings. The dumplings came twelve to a plate, tasted fresh, and were served with two different sauces for dipping. The filling was a bit sparse and a tad waterlogged inside. I prefer more vegetables inside of my dumplings, but the overall flavor was good.
As we looked over the menu to decide on entrees, my husband and I were delighted by the colorful descriptions of the food. Take Steve’s Super Shiitake Wonder Noodle Soup, for example. “Mushroom base mild broth with sliced brown rice cake with seaweed, shiitake mushroom and veggies that will turn your days to a higher fantasy.” I can safely say no other menu has ever made me such an offer. Or take a peek at Yin and Yan, which comes with this warning. “Please don’t order this dish if you can’t take the heat.” I feel I’ve been suitably warned. The Buddha Bop is more simply described. “Wonderfully balanced herbs and roots steamed stirred with many veggies and special flavor. Um… it’s good.”
After checking out my options, I went with Amitabul Energy Nut. “Thick whole-wheat noodles, steamed with wonderfully flavored veggies and various tasting nuts that will provide energy for your body.” I wasn’t sure which wonderfully flavored veggies or nuts would arrive, but was completely satisfied with green beans, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, tomatoes, cashews, and almonds. I ordered the dish medium spicy, and the noodles had a tempting, saucy kick to them.
My husband ordered the Tibetan High Noon. It’s described as, “Spicy Tibetan curry and Chef Bill’s special seasoning creates excellent tasting noodles tumbled all over with special Asian veggies that will kick you higher of High Noon in your inner heart.” The dish looked basically the same as mine when it arrived, but the flavors were completely different. Of the three options – mild, medium, or spicy – David ordered it spicy, and it definitely was that. As he ate the hot noodle dish with the warming flavors of curry, David was sweating profusely. He said it was actually very energizing and woke him up after a long day of travel.
Another important thing to note about the entrees – the portions are enormous! Not only could we very easily have shared, we could have asked one or two more people to join us for that single dish! It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but those dinner plates are actually platters. I ate and ate, and it still didn’t even look like I’d touched it. It reminded me of that old psychology experiment, in which they kept refilling diners’ dishes with tomato soup. Unless you’re a big fan of leftovers, I recommend sharing.
In short, the service was warm and welcoming, the portions extremely generous, and the flavors popped. I’ll be back! (But not on Mondays. They’re closed that day!)