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Politan Row Explores Sous Vide

From vegetable-focused to meat-heavy, more than a dozen concepts fill the new Chicago food hall.

By Sara Johnson

On the ground floor of the McDonald’s headquarters building in Chicago, a new high-design food hall opened in May. Politan Row Chicago is the latest from food hall operator Politan Group, which is also behind St. Roch Market and Auction House Market in New Orleans, as well as St. Roch Market Miami, with Politan Row Houston on its heels later this year.

Featuring more than a dozen food concepts, Politan Row Chicago hosts vendors ranging from the “vegetable-forward” Smashed Radish and the sausage sandwich purveyor Loud Mouth. Sous vide and food halls are common partners, and Politan Row Chicago is no exception. Vendors have turned to the method for the consistency it provides while adhering to the fast-casual atmosphere of a food hall.

Kelly Ijichi and Randi Howry, the owners of Mom’s, describe the restaurant’s concept as a midwestern approach to Japanese homestyle dishes. The menu spans snacks such as Happi Potatoes (Kewpie mayonnaise, bulldog sauce, bonito flakes, and scallions) to heavier fare like the Katsu Sando (crispy pork cutlet, Szechuan chili mayo, pea greens, and Japanese milk bread). For the Mom’s Bowl, garlic rice and sunomono are paired with a sous vide egg, cooked at 145.4°F (63°C) for 50 minutes, which can be topped with add-ons like spicy marinated tofu and fried Spam.

“We had to adhere to some food hall cooking guidelines, but knew we also didn’t want to compromise on quality,” Ijichi explained to Sous-Vide. “Sous vide-ing our eggs prior to service allows us to execute our dishes quickly and efficiently to meet the demands of the food hall environment.”

PIKO Street Kitchen, a brick-and-mortar outpost of the food truck established in 2014, also uses sous vide for the eggs in their bibimbap. Small plates on the menu include braised pork belly or tofu signature baos and blistered shishito peppers, while large-plates offerings include the Singaporean chicken and rice, also featuring sous vide. For that dish, the chicken breast is cooked sous vide for 165°F (73.9°C) for 45 minutes and then held at 145°F (62.8°C).

“We chose to incorporate sous vide into our cooking process because it adds a new dimension to our dishes and produces the most consistent taste and texture,” said PIKO’s Eric Hattori . “Our chicken breast in our Singaporean chicken rice is always tender and juicy while the eggs in our bibimbap are cooked to a perfect consistency.”