Rockit Bar both Asian café, BBQ joint

August 25, 2012 8:50:46 PM PDT
The signs are subtle. A bartender mixes up cocktails with whiskey and moonshine, but some have a whisper of Japanese yuzu. Chicken cooks on a rotisserie while ribs and pork are slow-smoked, but on the plate, there's also pickled daikon radish, while in the bowl, there's homemade ramen noodles. Is it a barbeque joint or an Asian cafe? A little of both, actually. It's Dragon Ranch Moonshine and Barbecue, the latest River North entry from the team behind Rockit Bar.

"I think with Rockit serving American comfort food and Sunda our other property doing modern Asian, innovate Asian, we began to mix and match a bit and found some really exciting combinations," said Billy Dec, co-owner of Dragon Ranch.

Slowly-braised pork cheek stars in a classic bowl of Japanese ramen, filled with pork and chicken broth plus chewy fish cakes. Pulled pork also shows up with steamed Taiwanese gua bao buns, riffing off a Peking duck treatment, with pickled vegetables and sweet hoisin barbecue sauce. Even the ribs take an Asian turn.. unlike the ubiquitous baby backs found everywhere else, they're opting for spare ribs.

"Because it does have a touch of Asian influence, we thought that spare ribs was a nice nod because a lot of the Asian places that we've been to over the years really focus on their spare ribs," Dec said.

A Dragon Egg Salad is really a Scotch egg, wrapped in sausage and fried.. while a Vietnamese banh mi - unlike anything you'll see on Argyle Street - arrives filled with chopped brisket, cilantro and jalapeno, along with a red cabbage coleslaw.

"We also had a lot of Thai and Vietnamese spices and vehicles at our disposal and we began to mix and match and they just made a lot of sense," said Dec.

There are traditional barbecue platters as well.. but the kitchen is hoping to differentiate itself by combining the slow-smoking of the American South, with the sharp, vibrant condiments and ingredients from Asia.

"Combinations that sort of allowed us to be in a genre of barbeque that doesn't exist," he said.

When you think about it dry rubbed, slow smoked chicken, beef, and pork go awfully well with Asian preparations and Dragon Ranch is hoping to marry the two, hoping to satisfy that yen for anything from a traditional Japanese ramen.. all the way to a massive American barbecue platter.

Dragon Ranch
441 N. Clark St.
312-955-1900
www.dragonranch.com


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