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SIDE DISHes 03.29.13

Carrot Soup with pureed carrot alaskan king crab white miso cream chives rice cracker Macku Sushi 2239 North Clybourn St.

Carrot Soup with pureed carrot, alaskan king crab, white miso, cream, chives and a rice cracker at Macku Sushi, 2239 North Clybourn St., Thursday March 21, 2013. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times

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Though Oiistar’s ramen comes up short, these three Asian noodle bowls do not disappoint:

ARAMI, 1829 W. Chicago; (773) 243-1535;

Vibe: With lots of timber, brick and a huge wall of skylights, this West Town sushi spot feels like a West Loop loft.

Flavor: I believe the Arami Ramen — filled with super-funky pork belly, silky broth, tangy house-made pickles, braised tender beef, a soft-poached egg and earthy enoki mushroom shoots — is the best ramen in Chicago.

PHO 888, 1137 W. Argyle; (773) 907-8838

Vibe: Blue formica tabletops, industrial vinyl and metal chairs and cold ceramic tile make this place feel one slight step above a genuine utilitarian soup hawker’s stand in Vietnam.

Flavor: But don’t let the vibe fool you. The beefy-tea like broth featuring an anise and ginger perfume of the Pho Dac Biet or house special beef noodle soup here is one of the most satisfying soup bowls in Chicago.

MACKU SUSHI, 2239 N. Clybourn; (773) 880-8012;

Vibe: Green leather banquettes, dark wood tables and a plethora of mirrors provide a sexy, contemporary setting.

Flavor: Macku’s king crab-infused carrot soup, spiced with Chinese seven-spice powder, topped with whipped cream and a rice crisp that wafts coconut perfume, is so exquisite it wouldn’t be out of place as a course on one of Chicago’s best tasting menus.

— Michael Nagrant

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