CHICAGO, IL, March 07, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- It takes courage and drive to launch a top notch original Asian restaurant in Chicago. But after just a few short months, two young and beautiful Thai women, Marita Tantivirasut (photo bottom) and Asana Nakornchai (photo top), have shown that they have the culinary acumen and business savvy to capture the hearts of Chicago's food lovers. Bites Asian Tapas, located at 3313 N. Clark St. in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood (telephone 773-270-5972, http://www.bitestapas.com), is an Asian Fusion small-plates haven that is receiving stellar reviews on social media.
Marita, a self-taught chef with vision and talent, heads the kitchen while co-owner entrepreneur Asana handles the front of the house. Both are originally from Thailand and met at Tank Sushi in Lincoln Square, a successful Japanese restaurant that has been one of their sources of inspiration.
Passionate food enthusiasts, they both believed that Chicago was missing a casual Asian fusion restaurant. What they've created is "small-plates wonderland" in a cozy and fun setting. Bites Asian Tapas fuses the cuisines of their favorite regions including homeland, Thailand, with foods of Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam and beyond.
"As far as we know, we're the only restaurant in Chicago to offer this," said Asana.
In developing the concept, Marita felt strongly that the restaurant had to be fun. "Chicago people have so many choices, and dining out is a form of entertainment," she said. "So we knew we needed a fun element, but we didn't want to become kitschy about it. Instead, we decided to let the food be the entertainment, with fun presentations and great flavors. For the room vibe, we decided to make it homey and comfortable but still modern."
A rustic, cozy neighborhood feel
Guests enter the main dining room in front. The warm fireplace leads them into the bar and lounge area in the rear. An outdoor patio in the back of the restaurant will provides Bites with ample alfresco dining come spring. Warm, natural hues give the restaurant a rustic, cozy neighborhood feel, with a touch of Asian influence throughout. The working fireplace, natural woods and clean, unadorned furniture are perfectly in keeping with these sensibilities. To add to the hominess, Marita and Asana have installed a 1960s console stereo, and they encourage customers to bring in their vinyl records and play them.
The menu: "The beauty of being fusion"
Marita designed her menu to appeal to adventurous people who like to try new things and love to share. All of the dishes are creative but not over-the-top. "We like our guests to be pleasantly surprised at the flavor combinations. We're interested in offering food that stands out because it has sophistication, tastes great and is beautifully presented, not food that stands out just simply because it's different."
"Even though our menu is inspired by Asian cuisines, it is not our intention to present authentic Asian dishes to our guests," said Asana. "We combine ingredients from different countries to create one dish and, many times, we get a wonderful, unexpected result. We think that's the beauty of being 'fusion.' We respect traditions but, at Bites, we try to think outside the box so those who think like us will probably understand our food the most."
Guests can begin their meal with a delicious--and reasonably priced--specialty Asian inspired cocktail such as the Wassup Wasabi ($7) with vodka, ginger syrup, lychee juice, lemon, wasabi; the Tom YUMtini ($8) with vodka, Tom Yum syrup and lime. The Ms. Gardenia ($7) is prepared with gin, simple syrup, rambutan juice, Midori, and lemon. A robust cocktail is the Gentlemen's Wood ($9) with bourbon, simple syrup, cherry, mango, orange bitters. Bites' Asian twist on the tequila sunrise is the Sunset ($8) with tequila, cognac, simple syrup, lime, bitters, and tamarind. Two quite unique cocktails are It's Onsen Time ($10) with Nikka Japanese Coffey Grain Whiskey, hot sake, lemon, and agave; and the Hot Geisha ($8) with Shochu, ginger syrup, lemon, lemongrass, mint, Thai chili powder (served mild, medium, or spicy).
There is also a nice selection of red, white and sparkling wines, sangria, hot and cold sake, and premium spirits. The cocktail menu is as creative as the tapas and servers are well trained to offer wines, beers and cocktails that will complement the food.
Sit back, relax and share the feast.
The ideal way to enjoy Bites' tapas dinner menu is to order a variety of dishes from the six menu categories, sit back, relax and share them among table mates. Servers bring all the necessary sharing plates and serving pieces so it's easy and fun.
The menu is neatly divided into six sections: Meaty, Under the Sea, Meatless, Buns, Sides and Last Bites (desserts).
Meaty dishes include Drunk Chicks ($7), a very popular dish made with fried boneless chicken, served with Asian whiskey sauce or spicy hot sauce and sour cream onion. Other treats in this category include Korean Sliders (photo left; 2pcs/$6), delicious pork shoulder marinated in Korean sauce, with lettuce, tomatoes, and sesame seed; Crying Amigo Tacos ($8), grilled rib-eye, with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro with lime sauce; Pig in The Garden ($6), lettuce wrapped with pork, tomatoes, cilantro, top with crispy noodles; Bites Wings ($7), marinated wings in Asian herbs, parsley aioli; Spicy Miso Ramen ($14), with choice of pork belly or tofu, and egg noodles, bamboo shoots, mushroom, boiled egg, sesame chili oil; Tonkotsu Ramen ($14), pork belly or tofu in rich and creamy broth, egg noodles, ginger, seaweed, poached egg, garlic oil, and sesame.
Under the Sea (fish and seafood) dishes include Calamari & Spinach Salad ($8), prepared with fried squid, baby spinach with ponzu dressing; Kimchi Egg Roll ($6) with shrimp, cabbage, carrot, scallion, glass noodles, sesame seed, wonton, sweet & sour sauce; and Sexy Shrimp ($8), wrapped in a crispy wonton with sweet chili sauce. The very popular Oriental Paella ($14) is a generous bowl of crab fried rice, egg, tomatoes, and scallion. The Crab Croquettes (3pcs/$8) are prepared with crab meat, celery, chives, honey wasabi cream and cilantro aioli; Tako Wasabi ($6) features raw baby octopus, scallion and lemon. Another house specialty, Tuna Tataki ($9) showcases seared tuna, vegetable pickles, ponzu sauce, and sriracha.
Meatless (vegetarian) dishes include Pretty in Pink ($10), made with rice noodles in Bites' signature sauce, tofu, omelette, scallion, crushed peanut, and sesame seed. Green Gyoza ($5) features Edamame, mixed vegetable, honey wasabi, mayo and caramelized whiskey soy sauce. A very popular vegetarian selection is the Samosa (photo left; $6) with potatoes, carrot, pea, onion, and curry with cilantro yogurt dipping sauce.
Soup lovers will enjoy the scrumptious Butternut Soup with curry paste, paprika, peanut and butternut squash. There is also a tasty Miso Soup ($3). Salad selections include the refreshing C Weed Salad ($5) with cucumber, seaweed, and vinaigrette dressing.
Buns (bao, photo below left) include Pork Belly ($3.50), Roasted Duck ($4.50); Crispy Shrimp Cake ($4); Avocado Tempura ($3); Chicken Katsu ($3.50) and Shiitake & Tofu ($3). Bites also includes a few extras to accompany the small plates: Pork Belly ($3); Taro Fries ($5); White or Brown Rice ($2); and Extra Noodles ($2).
Last Bites (desserts) are an excellent finale. Favorites are the Ginger Lemon Cheesecake ($5); Cookie Dough Chopstick ($5); and A Mochi Shooter ($3).
Unique Asian Fusion Brunch Starting in April
The Asian fusion Weekend Brunch, slated to begin in April, will be a delicious and unique experience for guests. The signature item is the Heavenly Pancake which is offered as a Green Tea Pancake (photo below right, $8) prepared with Matcha, whipped cream, chocolate, almond, and green tea ice cream; and the Chocolate Pancake ($8), made with cocoa powder, chocolate chips, whipped cream, banana, and chocolate sauce.
Other soon-to-be brunch favorites are the Pulled Pork Waffle ($9) featuring Asian style pulled pork, BBQ sauce, scallion, and cheddar cheese; an Asian-inspired Egg Benedict (photo below left, $9) with English muffin, Vietnamese ham, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. There are also Banh Mi (sandwiches) such as the Grilled Rib Eye ($9) with lettuce, radish, cilantro, carrot, jalapeno, onion, and Grilled Chicken ($8) with lettuce, cucumber, carrot, peanut sauce. Burger lovers will enjoy Bites' Burger ($9) with Korean marinated spicy pork, lettuce, fried egg, and Bi Bim Bap Sauce.
Comfort food brunch items include Stir-fried Macaroni (with shrimp, $9; with tofu, $7) with egg, Mozzarella cheese, tomato and Asian style tomato sauce; and Rice Porridge ($9) with poached egg, crispy noodles, ginger, and chives with braised pork belly.
"The most important thing for us is that our guests have a great time, tell their friends, and come back for more," said Marita. "We hope that everyone feels a part of the Bites family and enjoys the ride and shares the love, as we certainly are doing!"
About Bites Asian Tapas
Bites Asian Tapas, 3313 N. Clark St., (telephone 773-270-5972), in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood opened in the fall of 2013. Co-owners chef Marita Tantivirasut and entrepreneur Asana Nakornchai combined their food knowledge and love of Asian cuisine, bringing to Chicago a "small-plates wonderland" in a cozy and fun setting. Bites Asian Tapas fuses the cuisines of their favorite regions including their homeland, Thailand, with foods of Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam and beyond. The result is a delicious assortment of tapas unique to Bites. The drink menu is equally intriguing, making Bites a perfect stop to enjoy with friends, family and colleagues. Bites is open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant will open in April for brunch, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Daily special deals include 50-cent wings and $3 beer on Mondays; $5 martinis on Tuesdays; half-price wine on Wednesdays; and $4 sangria on Thursday. Sundays are BYOB and BYOR (bring you own record).
Bites Asian Tapas is available for parties and off-site catering. For more information, please visit the website at http://www.bitestapas.com.
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