So, on a recent trip to Chicago, I ate at two high end places, with two syllable names: Naha and Boka. Both were swell, if a bit price-y -- and to be honest, I especially liked Boka of the two. Here are a few more details.
On Boka: Part of what made me make the reservation was the following menu item: oysters with cherry granita and cucumber (as a starter). No, I am not a huge oyster fan, but I make granita and love it, and I was pretty sure that the person I was dining with your like this. I said nothing; and yes, she ordered it! I was equally predictable -- I had braised pork belly, which came with pickled beech mushrooms, cocunut marshmallow and green curry. It was dandy -- and the pesentation was delightful. For my entree I had rabbit (also sort of predictable for me) -- in this case rabbit roulade with rabbit loin, served with another of my favorite things: gnocci. In this case, it was bee pollen gnocchi. Yep, pretty darn good. The loin was a tad dry, but the roulade was really tasty. I have no memory of what we had for dessert -- though I think I had an espresso. But, I can tell you -- I can still recall the taste of the two things I have described here that I had. So: I think Boka gets a positive review -- although it is a tad price-y.
Where is it? It is in Lincoln Park, on Halstead.
Here's urbanspoon on Boka:
Several nights later we were off to our second two syllable restaurant: Naha. To be honest I had wanted to go there for a while, but it was not really anything to write home about. I had a great opener (why are appetizers and starters always so dandy and then sometimes the rest feels awfully boring?). No, it is not a bad restaurant, it just did not wow me. I ha a really nice take on a greek salad, which I really liked a lot. My dining partner had a very nice rich mushroom soup, which came with some smoked pheasant. It was a very very nice soup -- and indeed, got rave reviews. Here's what we both had for dinner: "Lacquered Aged Moulard Duck Breast with Caramelized “Thumbelina” Carrots, Broccoli Rabe and “Hakeuri” Turnips, NAHA Honey, Licorice Root and Port" I admit this is where I was not wowed; it was nice, but not spectacular (and that may be prejudiced by my expectations; I love this kind of turnips and I love broccoli rabe, and neither of those was really exciting either). I liked it; don;t get me wrong -- but it was not great. Having said that, I loved the warm baked cookies I got for dessert -- there was a real assortment and they were each dandy. There were lots of them and I carted them off with me when I left and actually ate every single one of them.
Here is urbanspoon on Naha, which is in River North:
One other positive on these restaurants: they coped with gluten free dining in nice-ish ways. Boka served some toasted bread and crackers; Naha, if I recall, had some really nice flatbread.