Joy District – Eat, Drink, & Joy!
By Ryan Haber
Asian fusion means just about anything these days. Luckily, this popular River North restaurant does it right. With the stylish décor and exciting atmosphere, this restaurant is a story of success. Under the guide of Executive Chef Matthew Wilde, Joy District has become known as the coolest place to enjoy upscale drinks and creative sushi in town. Joy District resides at 112 W Wabash next to Hubbard Inn and Key Club also 8 Hospitality restaurants.
Walking into Joy District for the first time is an exciting experience. You hear the music and buzz of people having a good time. The bar is large and includes a wraparound L section making it easy to post-up without a crazy wait.
First of all, the bar has four garage door tracks running up the wall and over the restaurant. Each track is custom fit with light sockets and bulbs creating a unique and inventive lighting system which looks really cool. In addition, exposed brick, black and white tiles, a variety of hanging pendant lighting and wood tables make Joy District one of the best-looking restaurants in the city. It’s warm, fun, inviting vibe is only trumped by the quality of food and drinks served at this River North hotspot.
Due to our excitement to explore the new Spring and Summer Menu, more than a few cocktails are added to the order. Moscow Mules, an Old Fashioned, Whiskey Maples, and a few Sake Bombs are on the order. The Mules are cold, refreshing and use quality ginger beer. Furthermore, the Old Fashioned is crafted just like it should be, simple and classic. The Whiskey Maple, a common flavor profile of many modern drink menus, is tasty but a little too sweet for me. The Sake Bombs, which are a great way to start off a night, are darn good fun.
Our first course, Phyllo Wrapped Tiger Shrimp is crunchy, perfect temperature, and flavorful. Shrimp with a crispy phyllo dough wrapping creates a crunchy twist. While the classic fried or coconut shrimp is good, this is a much more creative preparation. Dipping the shrimp in the sweet chili sauce and cilantro makes these treats especially tasty. Upon delivery, the Grilled Scallop Ceviche, sits in a real shell on a bed of sea salt, making for a beautiful presentation. In addition, a pile of paper-thin taro root chips is on the plate. As a result, this dish is a seafood plate of chips and salsa. The fresh and flavorful ceviche contains avocado, Fresno chili, radish, grape tomato, and citrus segments.
The Edamame, everyone’s favorite Asian snack, have a coating of sesame seeds and a tasty seasoning. The King Crab Spice Ebi, another favorite, is our sushi choice of the evening. This roll contains spicy shrimp, avocado, scallion, pickled ginger and Yukari, a Japanese-style seasoning. It is quite delicious and filling.
The main course, one Slagel Farm Butter Burger, one Ostrich Meatball Ramen, and a side of Gingered Baby Carrots. The Butter Burger is so tender, as a result, buttery au jus drips everywhere! Red Rock Cheddar Cheese smothers the Slagel Farm beef patties and holds the red onion, and cucumber pickle. This is a monster with a toasted sesame seed bun, black garlic, and a miso aioli. In addition, this dish is served with insanely tasty hand-cut French fries. Comparing all the “praised” burgers in Chicago, Joy District’s sits in the top three.
The most noteworthy dish, the Ostrich Meatball Ramen is mindblowing. The bowl hosts Ramen noodles, farm fresh egg, seared carrots, pickled enoki mushrooms, and ostrich meatballs. Ostrich tastes like a tender and flavorful turkey. In addition, the Ramen comes with a capsule of spices on the side for more flavor. The Gingered Baby Carrots are one of my favorites. Simple yet unique, these heirloom carrots have flavors of soy, ginger, and sesame throughout every bite. As we finish our meal we indulge in a Trio of Mochi, because we all need a three ice-cream plate with strawberry, green tea, and mango flavors. It’s a perfect way to finish off a fantastic meal at Joy District.
In addition, Joy District also has a fantastic rooftop with a bar and lounge seating options. They also have Mega Cocktails so you and all your friends can share a whopping 94oz of booze! Therefore, if you are looking for fine drinks, good eats, and some fresh summer air, go to Joy District. Joy is open from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am daily. So head over and grab yourself some fresh cocktails, delicious seafood, and of course that Butter Burger.