Last Saturday night my friend Jackie and I had a night out on the town. Not knowing where to go for dinner, but eager to find a new place that did gluten-free right, we settled upon Sunda: A New-Asian restaurant that has an extensive cross-cultural menu, and an even more impressive gluten-free menu. So we strapped on our heels and headed to River North; what awaited us was worth the adventure!We started off with drinks at the bar while we waited for a table. Jackie got the Grass Tiger: a spicy jalapeño infused gin drink, paired with citrus, lemongrass, and spanked with mint. I went with the Sunda old fashioned, which had a smoked sugar that was a cool twist on a classic drink.When we received the text that it was our turn to be sat, we were told that we would be dining at the sushi bar. Yes, in all other cases in my life, the sushi bar is not a place you wait to be sat. It’s usually for walk-in’s, or singles. This, my fellow foodies, was instead like hitting the jackpot!As soon as we sat down we put in our wine order, Albariño for me, a Chardonnay for Jackie. A waiter came over and poured some gluten-free soy sauce for us as we looked over the gf menu. Deciding to spread our meal out and see how we felt along the way, we ordered a roll and some spicy edamame to start.Pardon the lighting, but this here: The Spicy Tale of Two Tunas- was AMAZING. Those fried shallots? Gluten-free- I double checked because I couldn’t believe my eyes. A combination of fresh and spicy with crispy niblets on top- who could ask for more? What came next perfectly cleansed our palette. While awaiting our spicy edamame, one of the sushi chefs reached over the glass and handed us the most adorable mini roll for us to try. When I asked what it was he told us that because we were sitting at the sushi bar, we got a few little surprises here and there. When I asked him if the mini roll was gluten-free, he said no- but that he could make me one. He gave the mini roll to Jackie and minutes later handed me this- a mango, sweet potato combo all wrapped in cucumber. It was refreshing, and equally cool that they could do gluten-free surprises like that. I didn’t think anything was going to top the fried shallots that night, but these here did. These spicy edamame had a flavor I’ve never experienced before, gluten-free or not. It was unbelievably satisfying, Jackie and I said maybe two words to each other as we devoured these. Feeling pretty great, we ordered one last roll to end our night, when this little fellow showed up… Our second surprise, this time not so little! A fresh roll prepared gluten-free for us, the sushi bar dwellers. Mango, avocado, and cucumber again cleansed our pallets for what was to come. Oh and to accompany our roll? Two sake shots, on the house! How about a close up? I will mention- I think our sushi chef may have assumed gluten-free also meant vegan? Because we didn’t get any fish in our rolls, but that could also be customary for the “freebies”. Either way I didn’t mind one bit. The rolls were the perfect accompaniment to our orders. Our last roll did not disappoint:Again- some mood lighting but no worries, I’ll talk you through it- The Sunda Rainbow roll: King crab, tuna, salmon, walu, asparagus and avocado with some yummy tobiko on top. It was phenomenal.Sunda impressed the heck out of Jackie and me- their gluten-free menu was in no way restrictive, we could have ordered anything from sushi to Pad Thai. Their drinks were innovative, and the mood lighting made the whole atmosphere buzz with excitement. Or was that just my stomach grumbling?
I will say our service was a tad lack luster, bit it was a busy Saturday night and with the right company this almost doesn’t matter.
If this post has enticed you to check out Sunda- you can make a rez here. *Not sponsored, just a fan.
Click here to view the gluten free menu.
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