Where and Wear: Tanta Chicago
Before even having our last course at Tanta, we had already made plans to come back and vowed to try everything that we couldn’t have our first time around–criollo, a niguiris nikkei (a type of nigiri created by Japanese emigrants in Peru) made of Peruvian scallop, wagyu sesame beef, polleria sauce; lomo saltado, beef tenderloin stir-fry; pollo a la brasa, peruvian roasted chicken; and the famed pisco sour!
I evaluate restaurants by a very simple but practical standard: will I return to it? Tanta obviously falls into my YES! Category, for several reasons:
1. The food is flavorful and sincere.
The core of a restaurant is its food and Tanta does it very well. Ingredients are the backbone, especially for dishes like niguiris nikkei and cebiches. Without quality skirt steak, scallops and shrimp, the whole plate can just fall apart.
But seasoning is the flesh that holds all the beautiful ingredients together. How do you intensify the maillard reaction of seared beef with a quail egg, while balancing it with ponzu gel and sushi rice? How do you retain the umami of raw seafood, while ridding the dish of the fishy smell with an acid sauce and onion? Tanta treats food delicately and complexly.
It’s not afraid of being bold or mixing flavors together. In chaufa aeropuerto, on top of the pork fried rice, shrimp and garlic is a thick layer of runny eggs and sweet and savory sauce. Served in a stone bowl, the topping then becomes settled by the remaining heat and mixed with the rest of the dish. A mere spoonful of chaufa was so satisfying that my friend and I just sat there quietly and reveled in the land of food, leaving all our readings and P-Sets and essays behind…
2. The environment is relaxing and cozy.
There are restaurants where as soon as you enter, your back is (in)voluntarily straighter. Tanta is not one of those places. It’s filled with lively conversations, and friendly waiters who smile back at you understandingly when you tell them that you need some more time with the menu. No special dress code needed, just wear something comfortable. Given the portion of the dishes, I strongly advise against things like a bodycon dress. The rule of thumb is casual and chic.
3. It’s suitable for most occasions.
I went with a good friend and it was more or less an escape from the midterms. Around us there were couples dating, friends hanging out, work groups celebrating, and families dining out. The menu features Peruvian delicacies from street food like skewers and empanada, to hearty big plates influenced by culinary traditions of Japanese and Canton emigrants. Its diverse selection of food and drinks makes Tanta a great option for most eating out occasions.
If you want to enjoy some amazing food without pretension, Tanta Chicago awaits.
Address: 118 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Hours: Lunch daily at 11 am - 2:30 pm, Sat & Sun - Brunch Specials; Dinner daily at 5 pm
Feature image via