Naha

I just love this restaurant. It is so comfortable, so welcoming, so inviting with great service and equally delicious food. You can actually carry on a decent conversation and the vibe is just enjoy the food and the wine. If we lived close by, we would be, at the very least, bi-monthly diners and my husband would probably be at Naha weekly for business lunches. 

Sarah, our waitress, was terrific and as always, Carrie Nahabedian is one of the nicest and most talented chefs. She deserved to get the James Beard award this year. Well done, Carrie!

My notes are not the greatest, particularly at the end of this meal – lots of wine is always my excuse. Also, Carrie changed some of what we ordered at the last minute so….. All dishes were splits, one for two.

 

Yellow corn soup, caramelized corn, bulb onions and basil with a “griddled” sandwich of Kentuckiana “Mont St. Francis” Goat Cheese and a tempura of squash blossom on a bed of corn kernels. This was just yummy – I know not exactly a haute cuisine word, but it just tasted perfect.

 

Tartare of Hawaiian “Yellowfin” Tuna and  Cured Tasmanian Red trout with Mosaic of Nicoise Garnsihes, Aigrelette Sauce and Toasted Brioche – First you look at this dish and just marvel at how beautiful it is. Then, you taste and realize each element is not just for show but is essential component to the whole.

 

“Coddled” Organic Farm Egg “Benedict”, Kurobuta Pork Belly and Housemade English Muffin with Smoked Homegrown Wisconsin “Red Thumb” Potatoes, Italian Frisee and Yellow Helios Radishes – John is an egg freak and I think he inhaled this dish. I was a little slower as I wanted to savor each and every bite.

 

Lake Ontario “Smelts”, lightly fried with lemon and parsley and salted capers, “Pimenton de la Vera” – It was as if these smelts were just caught – fresh is an understatement. There was not one hint of grease – the white napkin stayed white. The sauce had just enough heat to accent the smelts.

 

This was an improvisational dish on Carrie’s part so I can’t vouch for complete accuracy.  Wild Alaskan Halibut sat on top of cannelloni of Swiss chard, “fondue” of Blue Marble Family Farm Buttermilk Ricotta cheese, Sungold tomatoes – What more could one ask for? – farm fresh ingredients plus fish that was perfectly executed.

A warning – my notes get worse so hopefully the photos will do the talking and I apologize in advance for any mistakes – trust me there are probably plenty.

 

Whole roasted squab, foie gras and crisp potato cake with black currants, Harlane apricots and Cipollini onions, Armenian Rose Petal marmalade, Licorice Root and Flowering Cilanto Pods. Carrie was very unhappy with the squab as it was delivered without feet. I just hope this glistening photo displays the tastiness of this dish.

 

Braised Pheasant Valley Farm Goat and Duck Confit Potatoes, Cavaillon Melon and Persian Cucumbers with Charred Tropea Onions, candied Valencia Orange and Dill Seed Heads – this was an add-on from Carrie so I am hoping that the menu accurately describes this dish. In any case, it was delicious, balanced and perfectly executed. Look at the beauty of that sauce – this is not “quick quick” cuisine, but cuisine based on classical sauces done with finesse.

 

Not one note so I am not even going to try.

All I can say is that if you are in Chicago, Naha is a must restaurant for anyone who loves good food and good service.

 PS I had John read this before posting and all he said was “Boy, wasn’t that delicious” after every photo.

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6 Responses to “Naha”


  1. 1 ulterior epicure September 6, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    That’s good to hear. I have only been to naha once and was terribly disappointed.

  2. 2 sygyzy September 6, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Where is this located Lizzie? Is it on Miracle Mile?

  3. 4 VI September 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Liz, it is clear you like the techniques and methods of Naha. How would you rate the ingredients. Carrie Nahabedian is pretty known for her support of local farmers. I am, obviously, a huge fan and proponent of local food, but I am also one who’s context is off. I have tasted food from other parts of the US in recent years, but my last trip to Europe or Asia was ages ago. Not that I expect you to say this was the best or comparable to anything and everything you have come across, but generally, what did you think.

    Any shot you tried Vie, where to focus on local food is even more intense?

  4. 5 lizziee September 12, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I think that is one of the things that impressed me the most about Naha. The ingredients were absolutely pristine and definitely noted, as to source, on the menu. Obviously, Carrie is very proud of her suppliers.

    Naha is not haute cuisine and doesn’t pretend to be. It is just so approachable and enjoyable and most importantly tastes delicious. High end in Chicago would obviously be Alinea, but comparing Naha to Alinea is like comparing apples to oranges.

    I haven’t tried Vie. Should I?

  5. 6 VI September 12, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    I would not call Naha haute cuisine either; the style is surely informal. I like Naha, but I like Vie a bit better. Since I am a sucker for local, I find Paul Virant’s approach even more true, or stict if you may. His menu is also a bit less modern, although I did once have foie gras ice cream there. I’ve described his cuisine before as a very good take on Joy of Cooking.


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