Thursday, January 14

ShopHouse

ShopHouse Chicago
ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, the Southeast Asian restaurant created by Chipotle Mexican Grill, recently opened two Chicago-area locations. The first opened in November in Schaumburg and the second opened in December in the Loop.  ShopHouse also operates 11 locations in Los Angeles and the Washington, D.C. area.

ShopHouse’s menu is influenced by the traditional ingredients, flavors and cooking techniques of Southeast Asia, and the restaurant gets its name from traditional shophouses, a common form of architecture in Southeast Asia in which families live upstairs and operate restaurants or fresh markets on the ground floor.

The Chicago location is right in the heart of the Loop, perfect for hungry office workers. The restaurant isn't huge, and consists mostly of communal tables with stools similar to those found at Chipotle, as well as a few private tables. There's also a sriracha wall if you need to kick up the spice a notch (which you very well might have to...read more below).

Loop Lunch
ShopHouse
Loop Lunch
Sriracha Wall
The ShopHouse model is similar to Chipotle, and features food made with high quality ingredients in an open kitchen. Customers can pick and choose exactly what goes into their own order, and the entire menu is gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free.

When ordering, you first choose a base of jasmine rice, brown rice, chilled rice noodles, or salad, then add protein. Protein options include grilled chicken satay, steak laab, pork and chicken meatballs, or organic tofu. Next, is your choice of various wok-cooked fresh vegetables like green beans, charred corn, and seasonal options like butternut squash or broccoli. After picking your veggies, you select one of four sauces including peanut sauce, green curry, spicy red curry or a tamarind vinaigrette. Available garnishes include green papaya slaw, herb salad or pickled vegetables, as well as your choice of toasted rice, crushed peanuts, Thai chilies or crispy garlic.

If you're not sure what flavor combinations to go with, ShopHouse also offers a few pre-selected combos listed on its menu.

Loop Lunch
ShopHouse Chicago
During my visit, smack dab in the middle of the weekday lunch rush, I decided to try a chicken satay brown rice bowl. I topped my bowl with the seasonal veggie, which was butternut squash and Thai basil, as well as spicy red curry, green papaya slaw, pickled veggies, and herb salad. The red curry was marked as the spiciest sauce option with four flame icons indicating so. However, I would call this "white girl spicy." I know I'm a white chick, but I love spicy food and this was not spicy. Fortunately, for spice lovers like me, you can top your bowl with Thai chilies, or sriracha for some extra heat.

I really enjoyed the flavor of the bowl and it was very colorful. My favorite aspects were the green papaya slaw and pickled veggies. I wish the chicken and butternut squash weren't chopped up so small though. I felt like they just blended into the brown rice at the bottom of the bowl. For the portion though, the price was certainly right. All bowls are priced well under $10, and mine was enough for two meals.

Loop Lunch
My Chicken Satay Rice Bowl
My dining companions tried the steak laab salad, and a chicken satay rice bowl with green beans tossed with roasted chili jam and crispy shallots, which looked delicious.  ShopHouse also offers fresh spring rolls which are a Chicago restaurant exclusive. The rolls are served with a spicy peanut sauce on the side for dipping.

Loop Lunch
ShopHouse Bowls & Spring Rolls
Loop Lunch
Steak Laab Salad
Loop Lunch
Chicken Satay Rice Bowl
Loop Lunch
Spring Rolls
ShopHouse also offers a dessert, a coconut rice and mango parfait made from Jasmine rice, creamy coconut milk, pureed mango, salt and sugar, finished with sesame seeds and toasted coconut flakes.

Drink options include Daisy Cutter Pale Ale on tap, and Chang, Singha and BeerLao bottled beers, as well as bottled drinks including coconut water, ginger ale, and iced tea.

If you're looking for a quick, affordable, and flavorful meal in the Loop (or following your IKEA shopping trip in Schaumburg), ShopHouse is a solid option. Some options are definitely healthier than others (watch out for high sodium counts), but compared to other fast casual restaurants, you're probably better off eating a veggie and protein-filled bowl at ShopHouse.

Note: my meal at ShopHouse was complimentary; however all opinions expressed are my own.

ShopHouse
www.shophousekitchen.com
24 E. Jackson St.
Chicago, IL 60604
312.588.0064
ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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