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Sweet Willie | Mar 12, 2004 04:53 PM

OPERA - the food - the great & the ehh/ok.

Went with a group from the "other board" for the tasting menu at Opera.

The chucks of shrimp, lightly battered, with a mayo like sauce were heavenly.

The two springrolls, fried, I’ve been eating a bit of Vietnamese lately where generally springroll has meant NOT fried. As a result, these were ok. The lobster shao mai were very good, but then again, I think the pork shu mai that are sold at 7-11’s in Hawaii are ok, but the Opera version was of course better, the lobster flavor did not kick me like I wanted.

The calamari was light and flavorful; the cognac plum sauce was a nice touch with this.

"Porkbelly sushi!" was killer, deep pork flavor with hint of five spice. As the waiter stated an amusee, I would have been more amused if more of it had been served.

The crab "chopsticks" were tough to taste IMO again the whole fried thing, the crab was good.

Chili prawns over mushroom fried rice was a great dish, one of the best for sure, but then the crispy prawn dish was very mediocre/too light in flavor, perhaps because it could not compete with the heavy smoky flavor of the chili prawns. Both prawn dishes were cooked perfectly as the prawns themselves were still moist, just done to perfection.

It must have been my luck, but I got two five-spice ribs that were very dry, meat was almost shard like, what could have been great was ehh.

The duck dishes, the duck itself could have been served and I would have been too happy. The duck leg over a chutney of rum-soaked raisins was not good due to the chutney. I kept some of the chutney and tried it repeatedly afterwards, it just was not a texture/flavors that I liked, but the duck was incredible.

Lady T stated this one right on: The deboned, sliced breast meat with cognac plum sauce, Chinese mustard, and scallions, presented with pancakes for rolling up, was superb: done just right, properly lusciously fat and crispy-skinned.

The third duck dish, stir fried with wide rice noodles was very good with large chunks of duck. What was the vegetable in this dish? (asparagus?)

The vegetables tended to be in the “me too” category, lots of similar flavored/based sauces. I did really like the eggplant and beans. The sweet pea pods were sooooo good on their own that the sauce was overkill, not needed.

Again, my luck but I was one of the first to partake of the tenderloin w/noodles. As a result the end/side pieces I chose were very dry. Noodles were great.

Steamed red snapper is a dish to pass on, nice presentation but just not there with the flavors.

The seared scallops and oxtail dumplings were great. Scallops cooked perfectly and the oxtail dumplings were soooo rich. Just wonderful. I would have been ecstatic with a plate full of the oxtail dumplings.

The desserts from Opera were good to very good, but as Neil observed really did not carry a theme related to Opera.
The three sorbets: passionfruit (stunning), starfruit (VERY good) and the coconut over pearls of tapioca (lame). Rich foods were kind of a theme for the night, hence my really liking the clearing effects of the passion and star fruit sorbets.
The banana dish: banana pudding with bananas on top and a banana ice cream, all covered in a caramel/cream (?) sauce poured over it once brought to your table. Banana ice cream was a highlight for me, bread pudding I could leave.
A dense almost flourless chocolate concoction that the inner was almost (maybe meant to be) molten served with vanillaish ice cream was very rich.

1301 S. Wabash Ave.

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