Another beautiful night in Chicago this past Wednesday meant that it was a great opportunity to hit up a new restaurant and sit outside. Bixi Beer, located on Milwaukee in Chicago, had been at the top of my wife’s list of places she wanted to visit for a while. I had never heard of it, and like most places, the menu was a little bit intimidating for me, but that wasn’t going to stop us from giving it a try. So with a babysitter booked and a double date lined up, we ventured into the city to see what this restaurant was all about.
As I mentioned, I did look at the menu before we went and wasn’t really sure what I was going to enjoy. They do offer a burger so I know that I wasn’t going to go hungry, but on occasion, I do like to branch out a bit and try different things, so this was going to be one of those nights where I just let the table decide what I eat.
The restaurant/menu are very heavily Asian inspired. None of the dishes you will find on the menu are traditionally Asian, but they all borrow, and are heavily influenced, by the tastes that you would find in Asian culture. So you’re not going to find orange chicken or Mongolian beef on the menu, but you will find different takes on items that use similar ingredients.
As for the restaurant itself, there are two levels, with the upstairs level being a lot brighter and more open than downstairs. Upstairs also has an outdoor terrace space that allows for a handful of tables, which is where we sat. I would highly recommend sitting outside on the rooftop if you can, but if not, try to sit upstairs. It just felt like upstairs was the place to be, while downstairs was sort of dark… Either way though, since the food was as good as it was, you can’t really go wrong sitting anywhere in the restaurant.
That being said, lets talk about the food!
Oysters, Crab Rangoon, Potstickers, and Crispy Wings
For our first round of food we stuck to smaller plates that we could share to get a taste of the types of flavors we could expect. I would definitely recommend just ordering a bunch of stuff for the table and trying a little bit of everything. There were so many good dishes that if we would have just ordered a single thing each we would have been super disappointed.
I believe the only thing we ordered during this visit, that I didn’t eat, was the raw Oysters. I’ve had oysters before, I know what they taste like, and I don’t like them… so regardless of how they are prepared here, or how they taste, I’m out when it comes to oysters.
The rest of the table tried them and thought they were ok, but weren’t blown away by anything. So maybe skip the oysters and opt for one of the better dishes on the menu.
Next up was the Rangoon Royale, which consisted of king crab, lobster, shrimp, green garlic, cream cheese, and thai sweet chili. This was a favorite for most of the table, but I couldn’t get into it. It’s no surprise that I’m not a big fan of cream cheese, unless it’s part of Oreo Torte, so when I found out that Rangoon is basically just a bunch of seafood fried into a outer shell, with a bunch of cream cheese in it, I wasn’t too keen on trying it, but for the sake of this blog I did.
I would say that it was the cream cheese flavor that turned me off to the whole dish. I didn’t mind the seafood that was in there, so that wasn’t a big deal, but the amount of cream cheese in there just didn’t sit right with me and I could only eat a part of one. But as for the rest of the table, this dish was a pretty big hit. For a couple people it was one of their favorite dishes of the night, so again, take my opinions with a grain of salt here and if you’re a fan of crab Rangoon, I would definitely give this a try.
Up next we had the Potstickers which consisted of shrimp, pork, cabbage, black vinegar, and chili crisp (peanuts). Overall I really enjoyed the potstickers, and they were way better than the Rangoon in my eyes. They did taste very familiar, as I’ve had potstickers before, so it wasn’t anything that blew my mind. But as for as something simple that tastes great, these really hit the spot.
The last dish that we got during our first round of food was the Crispy Wings where come with your choice of sauce – nuoc cham, korean bbq, thai sweet chili, or ranch. We actually opted for them to bring all four sauces so that we could get the whole experience, and damn… these wings did not disappoint.
Even without the sauces, these wings were incredible. Perfectly fried on the outside and wonderfully juicy on the inside. A couple people at the table even dubbed these some of the best wings they’ve ever had in their lives, which is really setting the bar high. Once you started dipping into the sauces is where tastes changed a little bit. The wings on their own are incredible, but certain sauces brought different flavors to the mix that sometimes helped elevate the wings, but sometimes detracted from the deliciousness. I would say my favorite sauces were the korean bbq and the thai sweet chili. The Thai sweet chili sauce tasted closest to the sauce I would get with Filipino lumpia, or just a sweeter Asian sauce so it was was familiar to me. The Korean BBQ sauce was a bit thicker and packed a bit more heat, which I’m not a huge fan of, but it was still pretty good. If you don’t like spicy food though I would only use a little bit of the Korean BBQ sauce on the wings. And as for the other two sauces, I didn’t even bother trying them, but was told that the nuoc cham sauce was a bit fishy tasting… kind of like an Asian fish sauce (go figure).
But seriously, these wings were incredible. They ended up being the only dish that we ordered again…. they were that good.
Round 2 – Frites, Octopus, Shaking Beef, and Soba Noodle Salad
In addition to another round of the crispy wings, we also wanted to branch out a bit and try some other menu items, the first of which was the Frites.
The Frites are fried in beef fat, topped with furikake seasoning, and served with a side of spicy tobiko mayo.
I couldn’t handle these.
The furikake seasoning on top of the fries was just too spicy for me. Everyone else at the table really seemed to like them, but I couldn’t get passed the heat to enjoy them. If you’re into spicy foods and love fries, then I would definitely suggest checking these out though. The rest of the table really enjoyed them and didn’t seem to find them as spicy as I did (my wife actually thought the octopus was spicier than the frites).
Speaking of the octopus, the last few times we’ve all gone out together we’ve always gotten the grilled octopus on the menu. I’m not a huge fan, but my wife really loves octopus, so of course we had to order it here… and it was spicy.
The Gochujang Glazed Octopus came with whipped feta, compressed watermelon, and fried capers… none of which I ate. The octopus itself is topped with the gochujang glaze which is where most of the flavor, but also all the heat, comes from. I didn’t think it was quite as spicy as the frites, but my wife, and the rest of the table, disagreed with me. If you’re a fan of grilled octopus and spicy foods, then this is a great option, but if you’re not a fan of spicy, then I would stay away… even if you really love octopus.
Next up was the shaking beef, which was absolutely delicious. This was probably the only dish that kind of resembled something you’d get at a normal Asian-based restaurant. It consisted of tenderloin, demi-glace, watercress, tomato, and rice… and I’ll tell you, the beef slathered with whatever the sauce was, was absolutely incredible. The meat almost melted in your mouth with each bite and not to mention the rice soaked up all that delicious sauce which was incredible.
I didn’t really venture out and try the other elements of the dish, but I was super impressed with the meat itself and would absolutely recommend this dish… especially for pickier eaters like myself.
Last up in our 2nd round was the Soba Noodle Salad which consists of farm vegetables, edamame, fish sauce, and calamansi dressing.
It’s a cold noodle salad, so keep that in mind. We had no clue the noodles were going to be cold when we ordered it, but they were pretty good. The dressing was delicious and this basically just tasted like a good salad that happened to have cold noodles in it…. nothing crazy, nothing too weird.
Final Round – The Cheeseburger
I never thought I’d find a restaurant where the most disappointing thing that I tried was the cheeseburger… I just didn’t think that was possible. Especially when I didn’t think there was going to be anything outside of the burger that I would want to eat, but that’s how the whole table felt about this cheeseburger from Bixi Beer.
But hold on… that’s not be saying that the burger is bad, that’s just saying that, out of everything we tried during our visit, this was the one that everyone liked the least, and I’ll explain why.
First of all, the burger comes in either a single or double patty version, and we opted for the double, since we were each going to try a quarter of it. The menu also ONLY states that it comes with a Japanese milk bun, American cheese, bacon, and pickles… that’s it… that’s all the menu says. This will be important later.
It all sounds pretty straight forwards right?
Our amazing server even told us how the chef used to work over at Owen and Engine, which has an incredible burger and amazing food, so we figured this burger would be pretty damn good. The patty was a blend of beef, short rib, and I believe something else, which is similar to some of the other amazing burgers in Chicago, so everything sounded like it would be amazing…
What they didn’t mention, and the menu doesn’t state, is that there are grilled onions as well as the tobiko mayo on the burger, in addition to the cheese, bacon, and pickles…. We asked for the pickles on the side, but had I known that there was going to be onions and mayo on the burger as well, we would have ordered it without those too. But since those ingredients aren’t listed anywhere, and the server didn’t mention them when we asked what was on it, we had to try it with them…
And it kinda ruined the burger, to be honest.
It looked absolutely amazing when it came out. The cheese is super melty and gooey, the bacon looked great… We were all super excited to try it until we noticed the onions (which I try to avoid, and some people at our table don’t like) and the mayo… which nobody really wanted on the burger. But, despite that, we all still gave it a try and it was just alright… the meat patty itself actually tasted a little weird… not in a bad way, just something different about it like the consistency was off. The cheese and the bacon were amazing, but the onions and mayo ruined it.
I would probably try the burger again if I had the chance, but I would make sure it only had straight meat and cheese, and nothing else.
Oh, and I almost forgot about the dessert… The Brown Sugar Boba Sundae with butter’scotch’ sauce, miso blondie, and espresso pockey…. Holy $%@t this was incredible… I don’t know about any of the other desserts, but definitely get this one!
Overall though, our experience at Bixi Beer in Chicago was amazing. The service was great, the ambiance is great, and the food and drinks were really good. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something a little different, more Asian-inspired, but not your normal Asian dishes.