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The Fairmont Chicago

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Aria Bar Brings the Far East to the East Loop

Playful décor, innovative cuisine offer new lounge option to Chicago’s Hot East Loop Neighborhood

Chicago, IL, July 15, 2006 --( Don’t expect fruity drinks and standard bar fare from the team behind the acclaimed aria restaurant. Located in Chicago’s hot East Loop Neighborhood, aria bar, opening July 10, is all about playful simplicity.

But simple is the last word you’ll use to describe the room.

Designed as a “playroom for adults,” aria bar is anchored by a gold amorphic sofa, and complemented by wooden tuffets. Metal-accented, Italian-imported tiled flooring creates a mosaic effect complemented by glass beaded wallpaper. One-of-a-kind sari-inlaid tables provide a communal dining experience, influenced by traditional noodle houses in Japan. Private “nooks” are created with aria bar’s unique coiled drapery, providing a romantic hideaway.

But aria bar’s décor isn’t nearly as playful as its chef.

In the center of aria bar stands the most playful element of all. Sushi Chef Byung Kyu Park, who goes simply by the moniker BK stands at the helm of a custom-designed illuminated sushi bar. A six-year veteran of Mirai, BK views sushi as an art form and regularly changes his presentation. The self-proclaimed perfectionist recommends ordering sushi for 2, 4, 6 and leave the details up to him. “You won’t have the same display twice” BK promises. His signature presentations include horse mackerel served in a snow globe, and the daily catch served in a conch shell. BK flies all of his sushi direct from Japan, and flavors his own soy sauce. In addition, the menu features a variety of rolls and sashimi.

For lunch, aria bar takes a page from the ancient noodle houses, offering Udon, Ramen and Soba noodles served wok or broth style. In the evening, aria bar offers an innovative twist on dim sum: Thai chicken satay, tiger shrimp tempura, grey salt steamed edamame, Peking duck-maitake mushroom pot stickers, hoisin-sake glazed barbecue chicken wings and lobster avocado spring rolls round out the evening menu, which accompanies the sushi and noodle offerings. Sushi is available all day and evening.

Equal attention has been paid to the beverages, ensuring that aria bar is, first and foremost, a bar. The menu boasts an esoteric selection of sakes representing different regions of Japan. And while the sake can be served warm upon request, aria bar manager, Jorge Arias, promises that it won’t be necessary. “Warming sake masks the flavors. These sakes are among the finest, and can easily be enjoyed chilled.”

Wine and beer play an equally important role on the menu of aria bar. Wines from different regions including Washington reds and Spanish whites, range from playful to obscure. The beer menu reflects the whimsy of aria Executive Chef Noah Bekofsky and Chef Leon Gunn who both have a passion for beer. 20+ beers make up the esoteric menu, complimenting the sushi and providing an approachable foray for would-be beer connoisseurs.

“Three years ago we redefined dining in this area with aria; now we’re doing the same thing for the bar scene in Chicago,” explained Bekofsky. “A neighborhood as vibrant and inspired as ours deserves a bar that is equally complex and unique.”

Opening July 10, 2006, aria bar is open from 11:30 daily. aria bar: 200 N. Columbus Drive. 312-444-9494.

Contact Information
The Fairmont Chicago
Dana Weiss

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