Eat Right Around Chicago

Chicago Restaurant - Sunda New Asian

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Sunda New Asian of Chicago, a Rockit Ranch creation has received a fair amount of attention since it opened, so it's been on my list of "must eat" for some time.  I heard that Executive Chef, Rodelio Aglibot serves up a cornucopia of Asian cuisines, so I was looking forward to my visit, but as always, I wasn't 100% sure that I could eat right at this contemporary hotspot.  
We were immediately seated (without a reservation - but it was a Monday) in the middle of the dining area at a long narrow, communal table with stools.  The interior is elegant but I didn't feel out of place in my jeans - and my sweater matched the waitstaff's attire (can't decide if that makes me cool or quite the opposite - likely the latter).  Anyway, Sunda is perfect for a client dinner, g-friend eve or as my Dad would say, a "hot date" (ok, I'm not cool). 

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My Dad (and Mom) on that "hot date".

The menu is robust.  It has something for everyone without being all over the place or scattered.  I worry when a kitchen offers too much variety - Jack of all trades, master of none - but not the case here.  The only issue you'd have at Sunda is that many options sound amazing and between the salad, sushi and grill, you can surely eat right.  

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Eat 2, not 12.

Before I outline my meal, I'll share that I've increased my workouts.  I am in the "off-season" for Ironman training, so I need to increase my strength workouts.  Ask David Wallach of Pace of Chicago, he knows what I'm talking about.  And he may agree that when you increase your exercise, your appetite follows suit in fear that you will starve with all this extra calorie burning.  I may be suffering from that, so that's how I will explain my dining choices. 

We started with the Loompya and Roasted Duck Hash Salad.  The server recommended both of these items and because I was extra hungry from my afternoon swim, I thought I should give his recs a try, even though the Loompya is fried and the Roasted Duck had a crispy egg on top of it.  It was time to order duck anyway.  I have been seeing it on almost every menu and usually pass it by.  And, I did it for you - the reader.  I wanted to talk about poultry and call-out duck as one of the higher fat options.  One ounce of chicken breast has 0-3 grams of fat and about 45 calories; one ounce of duck has 4-7 grams of fat and closer to 75 calories.  Figure that a restaurant gives more than the 3-4 ounce recommended serving size and more like 7 ounces.  You can do the math - duck is higher in calories and fat.  So, I ate it for you all so that I could inform you of the disparity between these two birds.  You're welcome.  It was delicious. 

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Ok, I won't ignore that I mentioned that the salad had a crispy egg on top of it.  I do have a thing for a soft cooked egg atop of salads, must admit it.  But again, I wanted to tell you about the nutritional profile of eggs.  Eggs have had a rough life.  They were heralded as the highest quality protein, which they are (have all the essential amino acids and are highly digestible) and then they were caught in the cholesterol windstorm and denounced for their cholesterol content.  Here's what I say:  eggs are high-quality protein sources, have 80 calories, 4.5 grams of fat (1.5 of which is the bad saturated variety) and 215 mg of cholesterol.  It is recommended that we minimize our saturated fat intake, as well as keep dietary cholesterol below 300 mg per day, so an egg does impact our daily intake. An egg also has good points:  it is a particularly rich source of vitamins B12 and B2 (riboflavin) and a source of folate.  The egg is also a good source of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, and has vitamin E.  The fat and cholesterol is found in the yolk, hence the "egg white" option with the heart next to it on breakfast menus.  I agree with American Dietetic Association, eggs can fit in moderation, but substitute the yolks with whites in recipes.  And for goodness sakes, don't crack one over a pile of roasted duck!  (I jest, it was a treat and tasty, but be aware of this if you decide to add it to your dinner bill.)

After our starters, it was time for vegetables and a few more vegetables.  The Baby Bok Choy was perfectly crunchy and flavored and the Steamed Soup Dumplings were dreamy little sacs of love. 

Sunda is a "must eat" and I recommend focusing your attention on the sushi, vegetables and grill to eat right.  The nutrition lesson here is:  if you've ramped up your workouts, careful of the sudden burst in appetite, it may make you order a fried egg atop duck along side fried spring rolls!  The restaurant recommendation is:  eat at Sunda.  Go now. It's fabulous.    

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