The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Ann Arbor Eats: Slurping Turtle

I was so excited when I heard that Iron Chef and Top Chef Masters competitor Takashi Yagihashi decided to open his second Slurping Turtle in Ann Arbor.   I had been to his Michelin-star fine dining restaurant – Takashi – in Chicago years ago.  He then opened the first Slurping Turtle there in late 2011.   The restaurant serves Japanese comfort food – noodles, cold and hot tapas, etc.   A lot of my friends and even my mom have raved about the Chicago location, but I was never able to make a visit to it happen.

It took several months to build the restaurant in the former Borders Books flagship space. Every time I was downtown, I’d walk by and give the workers the stink-eye for not working fast enough.  Then, when it finally opened, I proceeded to wait about a month before going in.  Hey, I was busy.

It’s a beautiful space – light, modern – nothing you’d expect from a place with serious, authentic Asian food. As expected, waits can be very long, but we were able to get in easily for lunch when they opened at 11:30 and late on a Sunday night.

Yes, we’ve been there twice in the span of a few weeks. It probably would’ve been more, but we went to Scottsdale in the middle of it.

Here’s what we had…

ST Young and pretty

The Young and Pretty – Shiso-infused shochu, yuzu juice, lime, and soda

ST hamachi tacos

Hamachi Tacos – yellowtail, truffle-soy, taro root shell

 

ST chicken

Duck fat-fried chicken

ST Ceviche

Ceviche – octopus, scallops, shrimp, squid in a yuzu-ceviche dressing

 

ST Butakakuni

Butakakuni – braised pork belly, daikon, shishito peppers, tofu in a soy-shochu broth

ST Bao

Bao Trio – roasted chicken, pork belly, shrimp tempura

ST Volcano

Volcano Roll – spicy tuna roll topped with baked kana kama

ST Eggplant

Saikyo eggplant – mozzarella, shishito pepper, shiitake mushrooms, moromi-miso sauce

ST spicy tuna

Spicy tuna

ST CUrry

Curry yaki udon – udon noodles, chicken, Japanese mushrooms, broccolini, bean sprouts

ST Shooter

Iron Chef egg shooter – quail egg, coconut milk, condensed milk, mint

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In one word – absolutely, wholeheartedly, some of the best Asian food I’ve ever eaten. Everything was beautifully presented and perfectly prepared.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.   If I were to choose my favorites, I’d say

– the hamachi tacos – I honestly am at a loss for words at how delicious this was.  Just order it and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

– the ceviche for the perfect textures and the bright citrus flavors

– the super-rich eggplant would almost make me go vegetarian.  Almost.

– the egg shooter…  Yes, I know there’s a raw quail egg.  But wow, this was fantastic.  You take it all in one gulp and break the yolk in your mouth.   It was like a perfect custard.

 

With Slurping Turtle and other somewhat recently-opened venues, I’m really encouraged by the Ann Arbor food scene.  Far too many restaurants here are living off reputations that may have been well-earned many years ago, but haven’t done anything exciting since.  While others have been cashing in on the farm-to-table craze and locals’ willingness to overspend for “simple, non-pretentious” food.  What they got in return was $28 roasted chicken.  Hopefully other restaurants will start to give a shit and put out food imaginative enough and well-prepared to justify the high prices we’ve seen here for years.

I’ve always wondered how well the best of the local restaurants would fare in a major food city like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago.  Some wouldn’t make it and others would be average, at best.   Without a doubt, Slurping Turtle would easily succeed.

Have you been to Slurping Turtle yet?  Either here or in Chicago?  Would you do the egg shooter?

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Slurping Turtle on Urbanspoon
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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

40 comments on “Ann Arbor Eats: Slurping Turtle

  1. alifemoment
    June 25, 2014

    Wow, what a great dishes presentation, love it 🙂

  2. TeacherPatti
    June 25, 2014

    I’m of the opposite view. I actually worry that “flavor of the month” restaurants are going to harm some of the old standbys in town. It depends on what you are looking for, I guess. I like the comfort of Old Town, Metzger’s, and even Arbor Brewing and the Peak and for my money, they don’t have to tweak the menu or do anything new or avant-garde. Yeah, it stinks that the Grange charges a lot, but I’d rather support Chef Brandon than some rich person from out of town. As I wrote this, I realized that I’m the same way in other areas of life…I tend towards old timey, traditional stuff that has been around–music, books, tv, movies. (Interestingly, I am pretty progressive politically and scientifically. In other words what I am saying is that my brain seems to be pretty messed up and perhaps someone should do a doctoral dissertation on my competing belief systems????) 🙂

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 25, 2014

      That always amazes me that A2 is supposedly the home of hippies and progressive thinkers but people are soooo reactionary when it comes to restaurants. With exception of Grange, the places you mentioned I wouldn’t consider fine dining and I would throw in Chinese /Thai/ other ethnic restaurants in the mix. The expectations are completely different. Pacific Rim not changing their menu in 10 years is unforgivable. It doesn’t have to be flavor of the mo, it can still fit in their vision.

      As for “rich out-of-towners”, again I point to A2 supposedly being “open” and “progressive.” In this case, Slurping Turtle is Takashi’s 3rd restaurant, so I consider it somewhat independent, not some faceless corporate entity. It’s not Ruth’s Chris steakhouse or Applebees, or some other national chain. Main Street Ventures here in town has more restaurants than he does. And it’s not like he’s completely an outsider – his first restaurant was Tribute here in the Detroit area. He could’ve opened up anywhere else, but chose to return to Michigan. (It also helps that his daughter goes to school here.)

  3. Yinzerella
    June 25, 2014

    Damn. That all looks super good. Especially that ceviche.

  4. a2sicilian
    June 25, 2014

    Went for the first time a few nights ago and loved it. I’ll be back soon. We shared several of the same dishes above, but for ramen we had one with spicy broth and pork meatballs. So good. Also got a side of the chef’s “volcano” hot sauce. (And had leftovers to bring home. It’s an incredible condiment.) The only bummer was the service. Our waiter just seemed inexperienced and naive. I don’t think he understood the menu, or the clientele. However, that’s pretty common in Ann Arbor.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 25, 2014

      unfortunately, very true. Did you have the hamachi tacos? drooling thinking about them

      • a2sicilian
        June 25, 2014

        Yes, very good, but didn’t seem super original to me. I would definitely get them again though. I fell in love with the ramen with the pork meatball. We also had the bao buns–pork and chicken really good, shrimp meh–and really good shrimp dumplings. Thought chicken fried in duck fat good, too. Enjoyed the ceviche. Lots of other things I’d like to try.

      • a2sicilian
        June 25, 2014

        Also, right now I’m eating a salad for lunch with a dressing made of balsamic vinegar and the “volcano sauce” I brought home 😉

  5. rachelocal
    June 25, 2014

    Dang. This is my favorite kind of food. Everything looks perfect! I would def do the egg shooter–looks delicious!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 25, 2014

      It’s so simple but the interplay of textures and flavors was mind-blowing. I may go back there to try all of the different desserts alone – raspberry wasabi and caramel soy macarons? Sign me up!

      • a2sicilian
        June 25, 2014

        caramel soy macarons very good; kaffir lime and chocolate sesame ones just ok.

  6. ksbeth
    June 25, 2014

    this looks amazing and i’ve not yet made a visit, but plan to do so soon. once or twice at least, i’m sure. not into the quail egg shooter but it sure looks pretty )

  7. Liza M.
    June 25, 2014

    I had no idea that Slurping Turtle was the restaurant of a famous chef. Now I definitely have to try it. I totally agree with you about the A2 restaurant scene. Until Aventura came along, I was getting mighty bored (and super annoyed by the ridiculous wine prices-if you don’t hit happy hour, forget it!)

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 25, 2014

      I’ve only had drinks at Aventura but have been meaning to go back for food. Wine prices are bad, but not much more inflated than other places. I really wish they’d allow BYOBs – I think it’s some local law that they can’t. I’d even pay a corkage fee at a place that has a wine list.

      • Next Stop TBD
        June 30, 2014

        I think you can’t BYO if the place doesn’t already have a liquor license, but now you can BYO if they do (but nice to call ahead first)…new law, passed earlier this year! Corkage is a definite.

  8. Go Jules Go
    June 25, 2014

    YES. Yes I would. I should never, ever read your blog right before lunch.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 26, 2014

      I know… I was starving after I wrote this late night. Thankfully I was too lazy to get a burrito

  9. thewineraconteur
    June 25, 2014

    I had the good fortune to dine at Tribute once when they were open, and I have been watching for a review of this restaurant, that was not done by one of the glossy periodicals that tend to ooh and ah about a new trendy eatery. I thought that this was such a place that you would visit, not only once, but twice. I will have to try the Slurping Turtle even though it is out of my realm of my usual dining, as I tend to be more traditional or dare I say staid. It will give me major “brownie” points with my Bride as she is much more adventurous with food then I am. Thank you for your critique, as I do enjoy your reviews of foods.

  10. Megan @ MegGoesNomNom
    June 25, 2014

    Can’t wait to try. Have to admit I’m not thrilled by the prospect of communal seating.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 26, 2014

      We were celebrating our anniversary Sun night and Boom Boom didn’t feel like sitting with others. Something about not wanting to talk to others. So we ended up sitting at the bar… and proceeded to talk to the bartender a lot.

      I actually like communal seating, but that’s probably because I work from home and talk to cats all day long.

  11. reversecommuter
    June 25, 2014

    Okay, I am dying over this food!!!
    I’m in chicago for August and am making a reservation now for then! Thank you for the intro!!!! Should I drop your name as you are such a fan? PS love the term “stink eye”!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 25, 2014

      Think I got it from Juno! It’s really good casual. In same range price and geographically are Xoco (Mexican) and Little Goat. Both have top chef masters. I’ve reviewed both. Lmk if I need any more upscale recommendations!

      • reversecommuter
        June 25, 2014

        Hot Diggity!!!! Thanks & I totally will! ❤️’d Juno – have you seen Chef yet?

        • thefoodandwinehedonist
          June 25, 2014

          Not yet, good? Do I have to see jn theater or can I wait til cable or netflix?

        • reversecommuter
          June 25, 2014

          Kinda have a feeling you will ❤️it as much as I did.

  12. the winegetter
    June 25, 2014

    Stunning!!! OMG, now I am finally looking forward to returning to A2 (the food here in Stellenbosch has been so amazing it forced you to wonder what actually went wrong with A2’s food scene). Thanks for sharing, looking forward to eating there with you upon return.

  13. applesandclovers
    June 26, 2014

    Mmmmm, reading this post makes me want to go there again. They didn’t have their liquor license yet when I went, and there were some cocktails that looked interesting. Was yours good? Also, I can’t get enough of their egg shooters; last time, we each had two.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 26, 2014

      Was very good! Since we went for lunch and for Sunday night dinner, I had to take it easy both times. But I plan on sampling a bunch of their Japanese Whiskeys…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 26, 2014

      And I’m glad there’s another egg shooter fan!!

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    July 7, 2014

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  15. emilyzaikis
    July 24, 2014

    I just went to the Chicago location for lunch and it was amazing! It’s within walking distance from my work (got a new job) and have been itching to go there! Definitely lives up to the reputation. Will make a point to go back very soon!

  16. Pingback: My Chance Meeting With Mario Batali: An (Almost) Dream Come True | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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    January 7, 2015

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  18. Pingback: Ann Arbor Restaurant Scene Part 2: When Prosperity Fails Us | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on June 25, 2014 by in Ann Arbor, Dining, The Chi and tagged , , , , , , .
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