Thursday, May 8, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: SUNDA name of new Rockit Ranch restaurant

Brad Young (from left), Billy Dec and Arturo Gomez of Rockit Ranch Productions (Photo: Rockit Ranch Productions)

WE FINALLY got a name for that long-awaited project from Rockit Ranch Productions. Billy Dec and crew are calling it SUNDA—named after Southeast Asia’s Sunda Shelf.

Says Dec about the name: "It wasn’t until I landed in Singapore that I had the good fortune to visit the landmark Asian Civilizations Museum where I came across a potential name enlightened and excited me! Upon explaining that I needed to find a name for our multi-cultured all inclusive New Asian concept to one of the curators at the museum, she pointed me directly to an exhibit featuring The Sunda Shelf... And said, 'Sunda' is your name."

Before the team settled on SUNDA, they sought out the help of one of the world's renowned experts in Asian culture, who happened to be Dr. Anne Underhill (Ph.D., Anthropology), the department chair at the Field Museum. She specializes in the development on complex societies in China, and Dec says she "was nice enough to spend some time talking this out with me and even doing some extra research to make sure this name was right for us."

Her feedback included this excerpt: "I needed to check some of my archaeology books that I had not looked at in a while (I do archaeology in China for later time periods). I agree, you do have an appropriate name for your restaurant. The best book I have is by the well-known archaeologist from Australia named Peter Bellwood (Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago, 1985)... according to Bellwood, your name is very suitable...Your restaurant sounds wonderful—we need more good quality Asian restaurants in Chicago! I will be one of your customers.”

Located in River North near its siblings Rockit Bar & Grill (22 W. Hubbard St., 312-645-6000) and Underground (56 W. Illinois St., 312-644-7600), the sprawling SUNDA expects to open in September. Premier Asian cuisine chef Rodelio Aglibot is the man behind the menu.

Gawker gives Stephanie Izard props on 'Top Chef'

Ha! Gawker's recap of 'Top Chef' is the best I've read all day, especially when they describe Stephanie Izard: ". . . somehow always seems to have just stepped out of the shower in all her interviews, showed herself a true champ whisking that mayonnaise."

'Mad' for martinis, Mom and music


It’s a bigger weekend than usual, thanks to a bunch of fashion events and the seventh-annual Madhatter's Ball. But don’t get too pooped out because you’ll need plenty of energy on Mother’s Day!


It’s a South American affair over at Alhambra Palace (1240 W. Randolph St., 312-852-1054), as they host Taste of Brazil. Entertainment includes samba girls—decked out in full exotic costume—the Bucket Boys, Capoeira demonstrations, a full Brazilian band, and deejays Eddie Mills and World spinning global beats. Dinner reservations available; show begins at 7:15pm. Free.

Lumen (839 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-2222) hosts another 20 Looks fashion show, this time featuring hot spring and summer styles from Bucktown boutique Veruca Salt (1937 N. Damen Ave., 773-276-3888). Get there at 9pm for the complimentary champagne reception, and one lucky guest will win a $200 gift card to Veruca Salt. 9pm-2am. $10.

The Oak Street Council hosts Toast to Mom with participating stores offering Champagne, chocolate and vittles to customers, along with extended shopping hours. Stores include Kate Spade (101 E. Oak St.), Yves Saint Laurent (51 E. Oak St.) and Frette (41 E. Oak St.). 5-7pm. Free.

Around the corner is the Walton Street Walk, a shopping event to benefit Civitas, a local non-profit group supporting early childhood development. Support their efforts by picking up goodies at such stores as Jake (939 N. Rush St.), Tory Burch (66 E. Walton St.), Burdi Boutique (58 E. Walton St.) and SABBIA fine jewelry (66 E. Walton St.). Each store will provide comp cocktails and cuisine from Gibson’s, Le Colonial and Pane Caldo. 5-9pm. Free.

Bloomingdale’s Medinah Temple (600 N. Wabash Ave., 312-440-4515) hosts Savvy Summer Style . . . Entertaining with Wine with celebrity event planner Amanda Puck and wine expert Sarah Powers from St. Francis Winery in the culinary kitchen on the first floor. 6-8pm. A $25 reservation fee can be redeemed for a gift card at the event.

Head to Roscoe Village for the annual Beers & Babes event, a shopping party just for dudes. Hosted by cool kids' store Kickin’ (2142 W. Roscoe, 773-281-6577), staffers will be on hand to help clueless dudes pick out just the right thing for (and become a real hero to) the pregnant women in their lives. And with every purchase of $100 or more, guys will get a gift for themselves: a $20 gift certificate to the Village Tap (2055 W. Roscoe St., 773-883-0817), which will also lead a beer tasting, with plenty of gourmet sausage and other "guy" food. 6-9:30pm. Free.


Chocolate Grape (2113 W. Division St., 773-772-3990) debuts with its grand opening celebration this weekend. Present this certificate for 10 percent off on all purchases at this new truffle, vino and cheese lounge in Wicker Park.

The Kendall Lewis Trio (who’s son of legendary jazz artist Ramsey Lewis) jams at 9pm at new River North spot The Joynt (650 N. Dearborn St., 312-573-2233), but if you arrive between 7-9pm, you’ll be able to indulge in complimentary wine. Hosted by Lip Service Productions. RSVP to for comp admission.

Return to Lumen (839 W. Fulton Market, 312-733-2222) and help them celebrate their first-year anniversary in style. There will be a GREEN carpet, in Lumen's true eco-friendly fashion, and they've secured celebrity deejay Bobby French, who spins at LAX in LA for likes of Halle Berry and Leonardo DiCaprio. 10pm-2am. Free.


The Gold Coast outpost of The Goddess and Grocer (25 E. Delaware Pl., 312-896-2600) throws an Argentine wine tasting where guests get to sample a number of Sauvignon Blancs and summer wines, including 2006 Mapema Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza and 2007 Crios Torrontes, Cafayate. Free. Noon-2pm. No reservations required.

Get the Mother’s Day festivities started a day early at RA Sushi (1139 N. State St., 312-274-0011) during a Treats & Tea Retreats Japanese tea party. Moms get a "cup of tea" with RA Sushi’s signature Zen Mojito that features Zen Green Tea Liquor as well as an array of signature RA dishes. $25. 1-4pm. Reservations required.

It’s been 20 years since eight Northwestern U students founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company, which now cranks out critically acclaimed productions several times a year in its new Mag Mile home. Founding members David Schwimmer ("Friends") and Joey Slotnick (“Nip/Tuck"), along with local personality and nightlife kingpin Billy Dec (Rockit Bar & Grill; Underground), created the Madhatter’s Ball seven years ago as a fundraiser for the young professional set—and it's still going strong. It’s happening tonight at Underground (56 W. Illinois St., 312-644-7600)—which will be transformed into an "Alice in Wonderland" boogie ball—with an open bar, appetizers and music by resident deejay Jem. Tix start at $125 and may be purchased here.