Sunda

Billy Dec

On Sunda, the Olympics and that Baseball Cap

UrbanDaddy - Billy Dec5 PhotosSunda
The boys behind Rockit Ranch Productions—Arturo Gomez, Brad Young and Billy Dec—have been major players in your (night)life for a while now. They opened Rockit Bar & Grill in '04 and Underground in '06—and now with Sunda, their new pan-Asian sushi paradise, they're bringing you one of the most stunning restaurants we've seen in a while. So we sat down with Billy to talk Chinese food, Jeremy Piven, cheerleading for the Olympics…
 
UD: Before we talk about the new restaurant, what's this we hear about you becoming the Chicago cultural ambassador for the 2016 Olympic bid?
BD: You're the first person I'm talking to about this. I just got my business card. I am the Director of Cultural Relations.
 
UD: Well, that sounds important.
BD: I'm very, very excited about it. My job will be the head cheerleader for the bid… I'm launching a blog today and that will be one of my first entries.
 
UD: So as Director of Cultural Relations, where would you take someone to show them Chicago culture? Hot Doug's? Alinea?
BD: No. You can't sum up the culture of Chicago in one restaurant.
 
UD: Well, when your West Coast friends come in, where do you take them?
BD: Chinatown for dim sum—Phoenix. And even though I don't eat there, I always take people up to the 95th Floor for a drink or to the W Lakeshore to overlook Navy Pier.
 
UD: Let's talk about Sunda. Tell us about chef Rodelio Aglibot, aka, the Food Buddha.
BD: Born in the Philippines, raised in Hawaii, he's worked in the best places in the world. He was the chef at Koi in LA. He and I went to Vietnam and he showed me how to eat right off the street without any fear.
 
UD: And he doesn't get mad if you call him the Food Buddha?
BD: No, that's what they call him on the Food Network.
 
UD: Any menu favorites?
BD: In Hong Kong I had an amazing firepot of red-hot chilies scorched and tossed in a pot of chicken. So Rodelio made his version. There's this little bowl of scorched chilies that slowly rub against whatever you want with it…chicken, beef, pork and soft-shell crab that look like they're climbing out. It's pretty awesome.
 
UD: And the sushi?
BD: That's the one thing you don't really see a lot of in Japan—maki rolls. But I love 'em, Chicago loves 'em, so they're on the menu. We have a great sushi chef who's been at Sushi Wabi.
 
UD: Your buddy Jeremy Piven had a famous case of sushi-induced mercury poisoning recently. Are we going to see him here?
BD: I haven't talked to him in a while...
 
UD: This is the third place for Rockit Ranch, which is a partnership of three guys. So if this is Entourage, are you the Vince?
BD: I don't know. The only time I get to watch Entourage is when Jeremy's telling me about it or whatever.
 
UD: What's next for you guys? We heard something about a sports bar in Wrigleyville…
BD: We have about five or six things we're looking at right now... Right now we're all about Sunda.
 
UD: One last question—what's with your hat?
BD: I don't know. I'm just comfortable. I've worn gym shoes, T-shirts, jeans and hats since the day I started law school and opened my first club where I didn't go home. Most guys come up to me and say, "I wish I could be wearing jeans and a T-shirt to work."

Vitals

Sunda
110 W. Illinois St
(between LaSalle and Clark)
River North
Chicago, IL 60657
312-644-0500
website

Extras

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