Clockwise from upper left: mixed vegetables, kimchi, bulgogi with spicy potato salad, jasmine rice
It takes a bit of sleuthing to spot this tiny six-month-old Bucktown cutie tucked away on a noirish stretch of Armitage Avenue. Rick Spiros’s chalkboard menu, listing four or five Asian-inspired entrées, is as spare as his space. “I like to keep it manageable and try new dishes and change with the seasons,” says Spiros. Everything is whipped up on the premises, and most of it arrives, natch, in neatly arranged bento boxes. Bulgogi ($14), strips of barbecued rib eye, come so artfully seasoned and sauced that even the Korean joints in Albany Park would give the dish a thumbs-up. Moist jasmine rice and feisty kimchi, dotted with black and white sesame seeds, provide ideal company. Other bento buddies, such as panko-crusted fried chicken strips, spicy mashed potatoes, and a crunchy cuke-and-cabbage salad spiked with mustard oi ($15) or a smooth, tangy lime-leaf–revved veggie curry ($14), also hit it out of the box. There are no desserts at this laid-back, friendly BYO—but hot fudge beckons at Margie’s a few blocks up the street. 2246 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-278-3932.
Photograph: Anna Knott