Try putting a square peg in a round hole. It’s tough to do and never quite fits. That’s how we feel about a meal at Embeya.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Embeya. The restaurant itself is a stunning space – meticulously decorated and designed. Its West Loop location is ideal, but unlike most restaurants in the neighborhood, Embeya lacks any action or buzz. And that’s where it loses us. There’s no mood and no ambience. It’s just quiet and a little awkward, like you’re waiting for somebody else to talk.
We actually like the food, which is a modern and formal take on traditional Asian flavors. Dishes like papaya salad, lemongrass-based seafood stew, and spicy udon noodles in a yellow curry sauce with rock shrimp are all actually quite good. But good food isn’t as enjoyable as it should be in a place with no clear intention. Embeya is too formal to be fun, too big to be romantic, and too expensive for a casual meal. And that’s why none of it meshes well. There are limited situations it’s Perfect For, mainly Corporate Cards or Dinner With The Parents who can never hear anyone when they talk.
You can jam yourself in there and make it work, but odds are there’s a better fit.
Green papaya, cucumber, crispy shallots, and thai basil. It’s cool and crunch with a little bit of spice. A nice light dish to start off with.
Fancy beef jerky. Small grilled pieces of beef with bonito, cucumber, and melon. Another good starter that compliments the green papaya.
Beautiful presentation, standard dish.
This is more of a noodle dish than a shrimp dish. Udon noodles with rock shrimp and mushrooms in a yellow curry sauce. There’s also a hard kick of spice in here, so be aware. We are fans of sharing this dish.
A great lemongrass-tomato based broth with a mix of shellfish that’s usually heavy on the shrimp, mussels, and occasionally more. Make sure to mix the rice in that they give you for a really hearty dish. It’s always on the lunch menu and sometimes a larger dinner special to share, and we’re very into this stew if you don’t mind slurping food.
Chicken thighs with kale and roasted potato. Solid dish if you’re looking for something basic.