MAK – Modern Asian Kitchen For Modern Appetites
Written and Photos by Jessica Lewandowski
On a Thursday night, my date and I waltzed into the warmth of MAK Modern Asian Kitchen in Chicago for some fast-casual, take-out style yummies. The perfectly located little hangout is essentially in Wicker Park, which is a hot spot for cheaper, quick-service style joints dabbled between the more sit-down style restaurants. Maybe it was the soft lighting, or maybe the smell of wok-oil floating through the air, but we definitely got the vibe that MAK was the ideal place to squash those munchie cravings. The menu was very easy to navigate. While there were plenty of options for small $5 plates, picking your entrée was a literal 1-2-3: pick a protein, a grain and a side. Then, you get to pick your spice level: no spice, medium, or hot. To be perfectly honest, one of my favorite takeaways from this restaurant was the silverware: a chork! A chopstick and fork hybrid, we were seriously in love with how convenient and fun that was. I suppose we’re dorks for cool eating utensils.
We were first handed a couple of appetizers: the Chicken Wangs and Veggie Falafel. My date and I always go cuckoo for chicken wings so we definitely gobbled those down first. The wangs (no laughing) came in the perfect appetizer-for-two size, and they were super crisp! We ordered them as hot as they come, but we were more than happy to also douse them in the House-Made Hot Sauce at our table. The vinegary sauce added that extra punch of flavor to the red pepper-flaked wings. The falafels also had a nice kick of spice to them, and were even eaten by my so-not-vegetarian date! The veggie falafel were made with edamame and chick peas, and they pulled apart really nicely over our brown rice. If you only have $5 on you, the veggie falafel bowl is a genius way to tie your hunger over.
The entrees at MAK are huge! The chefs at MAK don’t shy away from the traditional “bang for your buck” serving style of most Asian restaurants. My date and I decided to split an order of the Spicy MAK Beef Bowl with White Rice and Broccoli. We were both served our own bowl, and you would think we had ordered two entrees. There was so. Much. Food. The MAK beef was cooked in a sweet garlic sauce, and the broccoli was oddly satisfying. Maybe I’m weird, but I can always appreciate an expertly cooked vegetable. Again, if you’re short on food money, the bowls at MAK are a pretty smart way to stretch your dollar (and your tummy).
We wouldn’t have thought to order dessert at a fast-casual Asian restaurant, but we were super delighted when we were handed two of the famous MAK Donuts. There was a Black Sesame Donut and a Five Spice Donut, and both were extra doughy, pillowy and totally covered in sugar. Maybe if spicy isn’t your thing, go for the sugar-coma-inducing desserts!
MAK Modern Asian Kitchen is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are gluten free and vegetarian options!