iNG's Umami Kombu Noodles | Fulton Market, Chicago

iNG works magic with kombu

The acronymic name of Homaro Cantu's new project, iNG, stands for "imagining new gastronomy."

From the menu, it's clear that the Fulton Market restaurant's new gastronomy owes much to Asia, especially Japan.

One of iNG's not-to-miss dishes features a cornerstone Japanese ingredient, kombu (or konbu, kelp), transforming it into what's best described as a bowl of umami ($11).

Chef Thomas Bowman soaks the dried seaweed for three days, first in warm and then cold water, before braising it in stock flavored with lemongrass, ginger, citrus zest, garlic and white soy. The prolonged soaking eliminates sliminess and softens the dense seaweed until it's pasta-like in texture.

When sliced into ribbons and swirled in a kimchi dashi (a source of yet more umami) with Honshimeji mushrooms, cubes of tofu and a jiggly slow-cooked egg, it's nearly impossible to tell that the dark green noodles came from the sea.

For a final dose of savory–and a textural counterpoint–the bowl is crowned with kale leaves that have been fried until puffed.

Order a flight of the restaurant's house-brewed beers ($15) and drink the Belgium and Bangkok ale with the kombu noodles. The brew's lemongrass and ginger notes are a peerless match for the bowl's umami assault.

iNG, 951 W. Fulton Market; 855-834-6464 or