Crystal bought a couple of Chicago pork rib meals from Groupon. As with all Groupon offers, it was supposed to be a good deal. So off we went to Chicago. They have only 3 outlets in Malaysia. One of them is in Penang and the other in Cheras. We picked the most logical one - in 1-Utama Shopping Centre, which is located on the 1st floor of the new wing.
One of our nieces from Sungei Petani was in town. So Crystal gathered a couple more of their local cousins and we had a party of 8 people. The restaurant did not allow advance booking. When we arrived there, there was already a waiting crowd outside.
After a considerable wait, they called Crystal on the phone and led us a joined wall-side table. The place was not all that big. It had a typical American diner decor - rather characterless.
Grilled pork ribs is apparently their speciality. They had big signages on their walls to declare so.
Their kitchen or grilling station looked hot and smoky. Inside, workers toiled to prepare our meals.
First on our table was this seafood spaghetti. The flavour was good. There were generous portions of shrimps and squid, and the herbs mixture was not bad at all. But the pasta was soggy and over cooked. It definitely lacked the al dente of a good pasta.
Likewise, the chilli pork bolognese. The sauce, herbs and minced pork were all flavourful. The spaghetti was soggy and disappointing.
Then they served the highlights - grilled pork ribs. To me it was a total disappointment. The ribs were served in half-racks. They were engulfed in an overwhelming red thick BBQ sauce which tasted too sweet and a little "artificial". The meat slipped off the rib bones like an oversized glove. It was too easy eating it. There was no "challenge" that required you to hold them in your fingers to nibble and to tear the meat off the bones with your teeth. The meat was soft and flaccid. It was like eating boiled ribs in BBQ sauce. The flavour of the meat was almost non-existent. It was all over powered and masked by the awful BBQ sauce. How could this ever be a signature dish?
The ribs came in 7 choices of side orders, of which you could select 2. We had 6 of them. None of them was great.
The grilled lamb rack was a much much better rib. Only we didn't get the a rack, just a couple of ribs. The ribs were very well done. Unlike the pork, it was not inundated with the sweet BBQ sauce. The meat was firm and well marinated. We tasted the full original flavour of the lamb. Why couldn't they grill the pork ribs the same way?
We shared 2 of these "oriental" salads. It was lettuce and tomato tossed with a silly mixture of almond and peanuts in a lime dressing. A good try, but it did not work.
This was bacon wrapped sausages, grilled in the same BBQ sauce. It was so-so. I thought the bacon was the saving grace.
And then we shared 2 pizzas. The first was the pork pizza. It was minced meat covered with Italian cheese. It was nothing to shout about but I liked it. I found the pizza bread crisp and nice. The meat was generous.
The seafood pizza was not as nice. Same pizza bread, but the flavour of the whole thing was not as good as the first.
The Chicago is not a great dining place. It is in the same league as Chilis, TFIG and Bubba Gump, which to me are all mediocre American style makan places. They are definitely not my choice for a good meal. Like all things American, I think they are simply over-rated.