Thai Urban Kitchen | West Loop/Fulton Market | Thai | Restaurant
Large, upscale space in the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Our Review

Can there be a more depressing place downtown at 8 PM on Tuesday than this huge, modish, black-and-white echo chamber, devoid of diners, the Arcade Fire moaning on the sound system, and the sushi chef despondently slumped behind his fish case? That was the scene on my visit after the preopera crowd had departed. You'd think with the full attention of the kitchen the conceptually interesting if pricey Ameri-Thai fusion dishes would be perfectly executed. That's what we hoped when our first appetizer arrived: a fresh, luscious tuna poke bonded with avocado and bathing in a tomato water bright and citrusy even in January. But the calamari with a gingery breading that followed appeared to have been rubberized in not-hot-enough oil, and the Kobe beef strips in a salad with too many raw red onions must have come from a tough old bastard that free ranged on tumbleweed and stinging nettles. Orange-glazed salmon in pineapple salsa was overcooked in defiance of a request for medium rare; roast duck breast in lychee curry was similarly snuffed. One of the only dishes to escape this abuse was Amish chicken with pearl onions, cashews, and roasted chiles, which had the natural texture and flavor you'd hope for. I'm tempted to assume such consistent overcooking is by perverted design, but that's no more disturbing than the $12 tag on a single seared diver scallop (served on an admittedly delicious cauliflower puree). If you mark up a single shellfish that much it better have been frolicking with Sponge Bob that very morning, but it sure didn't taste that way. Thai Urban Kitchen, from the folks behind Sura, serves a more straightforward and inexpensive Thai menu to mobs of office workers at lunchtime. I'll take bets on how much longer they serve dinner.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$
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