While you can tell a lot about a restaurant by the quality, variety and delivery of its bread basket, I recently discovered that Ben Pao in River North provides a far less butter-slathered and bloat-worthy way to start your meal. A tiny bowl of very thinly sliced cucumbers soaking in rice wine vinegar and sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds is brought to the table with the ice water. It’s simple, light and palate-cleansing, and won’t spoil your appetite if you scarf the whole thing down even before you order. Ben Pao, 52 W. Illinois, 312.222.1888.
Cucumber salad at Ben Pao
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