The Best Little One

January 1, 2014

I had been wanting to try Embeya, the Asian fusion restaurant located in the West Loop for quite some time. The name Embeya comes from the chef's childhood nickname which means "little one" in Vietnamese. For starters, the restaurant is beautiful and I was always envious of those seated in their sidewalk cafe during Chicago's warmer months. I had my chance to check it out for lunch with my boss during a weekday away from the office.

We were there the day after Christmas so practically the entire office and Loop was empty, in addition to the restaurant. There were only about four or five tables that were full. At lunchtime, Embeya offers the option of a three course prix fixe menu with an appetizer, entree and dessert, for just $21. This is a steal considering the price of each dish individually, and the portion sizes included. We decided to order a la carte so we could pick and choose whatever sounded good to us.

Main Dining Room
We both started off with some hot herbal tea that was much needed on the frigid afternoon.

Green Tea
We each chose a different appetizer to share; I chose the shrimp wrap which I had seen recommended online. This was essentially a fried egg roll with lettuce and mint that you wrap around the outside, masking the actual fried qualities of said egg roll. I liked the sweet and spicy chili sauce that accompanied the wrap, but it was nothing special in my mind.

Shrimp Wrap
The better appetizer was the smoked scallops with Asian pear, lemongrass and sea beans. Those green sprigs on top were the sea beans which had a crispy texture and a salty kick. I'm not a huge scallops fan but these were so delicate and light that they made me a believer. I loved the lemongrass flavoring as well.

Smoked Scallop
For my entree, I chose the seafood stew, which came recommended by our server. The stew arrived in a giant stone pot and was filled with mussels, clams, shrimp, and sea bass. The broth was the real star of this dish. It had intense flavors of coconut, lime and ginger and had quite the kick from chili flakes. I also poured the broth over some jasmine rice that our server brought for the table and would have slurped up every last drop if I wasn't with my boss! I love spicy food and this dish had the perfect amount of spice for me. For anyone who's not into spicy food, I could see this being too hot to handle. 

Seafood Stew
My boss ordered the Japanese sea bass topped with bok choy and roasted piquillo peppers. Because he is on a restricted diet, he ordered the soy-based sauce that usually comes on top of the fish, on the side. The staff at Embeya was very accommodating when it came to altering dishes.

Japanese Sea Bass
To round out our meal, we both ordered a different dessert. My boss went with the exotic fruit plate which seems to change with what's seasonally available. The array of Southeastern Asian fruits included jackfruit, rambutan and longan. These truly were some exotic fruits and they even came with instructions from our server. It was like eating a course at Alinea. I didn't really like the jackfruit, though my boss did, and the longan and rambutan were very similar in taste and appearance (once peeled) to a grape.

Exotic Fruit Plate (counterclockwise from left, longan, rambutan and jackfruit)
I went for something a little less healthy for dessert, the creme puff (also recommended by our server). This muffin-shaped dessert was filled with a large portion of vanilla creme and topped off with a dusting of powered sugar and matcha (powdered green tea). The puff was light and airy and the creme was heavenly. You could really taste the intense flavor of the vanilla.
Creme Puff
Creme Puff oozing out vanilla creme
Overall, we had a fantastic lunch inside the beautiful restaurant. The menu was different than anything I had tried before and the blending of Asian cuisines ensured anything you tried was adventurous.  I can't wait to return for dinner! Embeya is also participating in this year's Chicago Restaurant Week, another great opportunity to check out what they have to offer!

I'm giving Embeya 4.5 ghosts out of 5!

564 W Randolph
Chicago, IL 60661
Embeya on Urbanspoon

1 comment

  1. RAMBUTAN!! im totally going for that
    Looking forward to more great reviews in the new year!


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