At the beginning of November, I went to the newly opened Seafood City for a tasting. Seafood City is a premier Filipino supermarket chain in North America that has now graced our city with its presence. This place is an all-stop shop for seafood lovers; a grocery store and restaurant combined.
I went in for seafood tasting with some friends. For our tasting, we were given a separate, special room usually reserved for events. When we arrived, the food had already been laid out on the table and it all looked so colorful and appetizing.
There was a nice spread of Fried Shrimp Okoy, Salt & Pepper Shrimp and Marinated Fried Smelt. Chef Ernie himself was waiting at the table to serve us. Not only were we ecstatic, but we also felt like celebrities. And the best part was that any of my questions about the food were answered right there.
We were informed that the food at the table was from two different sections of the restaurant area, Crispy Town (mostly for fried foods) and Grill City (for grilled, marinated meats).
We started digging into the food starting with the Shrimp Okoy. Have you ever had Okoy? It’s a delicious Filipino appetizer and basically fritters made with onion, sweet potato with unpeeled shrimp folded in. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything like it. So crispy and tasty and something you just have to try for yourself. And it came with a phenomenal garlic and house vinegar dressing that did everything to make it even tastier. Sometimes I wonder who thinks about these perfect combinations of food and condiments.
From Crispy Town, my favorite was the Marinated Fried Smelt. This ones a must try! You will easily lose count of the crispy, whole-fried little fishies you eat. They make the dish looks so pretty here too.
From Grill City, the Grilled Golden Pompano was well worth mentioning. An east coast fish that can be easily found between New England and South America, this fish is fatty and looks opaque in appearance. Aside from being fresh and flaky, I liked that this fish was prepared simply and with a light drizzle of lemon and soy sauce. Chef personally fileted the fish for us, and placed generous portions of the fish on our plates, which we ate with sticky rice.
The Grilled Stuffed Squid was noteworthy too. A striking dish served with a house made seafood sauce that rocked our worlds. The chargrilled taste on the meat was so refreshing and appetizing.
We were so full, but the Banana Cue for dessert was the right ending. These deep-fried Saba bananas (cooking bananas) fried in caramelized sugar and served on skewers were easy to eat and easy to love!
After dinner, we took a tour with the manager of the grocery section and visited the Seafood area. It was fun to see firsthand all the fresh fish laid out, and also feel good about the fish that we had just eaten, knowing where it came from.
One of the selling points of the food at Seafood City is that it is free of MSG; which is so important these days. The fish cooked in-house is also locally sourced. It cannot get more organic than that!
And most of all, the prices are so affordable because the supermarket buys directly from suppliers and are able to bargain the best prices for their meat and produce.
Seafood City is truly a cultural icon and for many Filipino Americans a home away from home. I was so happy share in the culture and the food, and I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this Filipino Goodness all this while.
Bite Nite 2016
The day after the Cubs won the World Series, I attended Bite Nite, a fundraiser put together by Next Bites, a Chicago based non-profit and a counterpart of the Green Chicago Coalition, that empowers foodservice industry members and diners to make better food choices, while improving the health of the planet.
At the event, we saw Chicago’s greenest chefs and breweries come together to serve and celebrate sustainable food and partake in an evening of fun. Local Foods couldn’t have been more suitable for the event venue, and proceeds went to the Next Bite’s mission.
The food at this event was amazing but among my favorites was the Chilled Kimchi Soup which so good and somewhat mysterious to me. This creamy concoction had little pieces of kimchi, hints of spice, and small tastes of honey. Every bite was sweet and sour in a tantalizing way but the creamy look could’ve fooled you for a blander taste. Head Chef of Local Foods, Abra Berens helped put some of this mystery to rest. Plus after my third cup, I was questioning less and devouring more.
The other favorite was Fig Catering’s Butter Grilled Fig Shop Brioche with River Valley Ranch roasted mushroom. I don’t think I’ve eaten a more fluffier and sweeter brioche and that whole dish was magical. Plus, it went very well with the kimchi soup. And a glass of that Shebang red wine served was weaving its own magic. Also just where each and every ingredient accounted for, did a lot for my appetite.
As a seafood blogger, I’m definitely passionate about a pescetarian lifestyle that also reduces marine footprint, I am always honored to be part of such meaningful events. And I’m always excited to eat good food! Between the Cubs win and this food, it was just one of the best 24 hours I had had.
Deca is truly state of the art, illustrating the newest culinary trends in a very stylish setting with a remarkable view of the Chicago skyline. The décor is so festive with a beautiful, giant Christmas tree adorning the lobby area and a huge Gingerbread Village Set that is up for auction. Proceeds from the auction will go to Dollars for Dreams Teddy Bear Tea Launch Day, where funds will be raised to provide teddy bears to children at Lurie Children’s Hospital. We got a sneak peek of the gingerbread house and it really is something.
At this preview media event, guests also enjoyed lots of mini bites such as finger sandwiches; my favorites being the cucumber and salmon ones. We also enjoyed warm and fluffy scones that were simply too yummy to pass up.
Featured cocktails being served were the Spiked Cider, Grin & Pear It, and their most popular one, the Winter Wonderland. The one that stole my heart however was the very ‘decadent’ Spiked Hot Cocoa with cognac, marshmallow and peppermint schnapps. This was heavenly! We ate and drank and enjoyed a merry good night and it got everyone excited for the upcoming holidays. Thank you Ritz Carlton for hosting such a beautiful event.
Take a break from your hectic day and get fancy with Happy Hour at Deca. They have some really cool offerings throughout the holiday season, and lots of themed Happy Hours too which kicked off on November 20th. All cocktails will cost only $10 during happy hour! Now who wants to be my date for the next happy hour there?