Foodie Spotlight: Rook


Photo courtesy of @brownsburgben

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Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.

Review by contributor Dustin Heller

Where can you get a good banh mi in this town?  The answer to this question wasn’t obvious to restaurateur Ed Rudisell some five years ago, and from that, Rook was born and has been evolving ever since.  The restaurant is serving up contemporary Asian cuisine that draws inspiration from street food stalls and markets from all over Asia.  The original location in the Hinge building was more of a banh mi sandwich shop which was designed to evoke the feeling of an alley of Southeast Asia.  Just a few short months after launching, Chef Carlos Salazar came on board and things started to change quickly.  In light of Chef Carlos’ creativity and ever evolving menu, they soon outgrew this location because the kitchen wasn’t suitable for the menu they were wanting to serve.  From there, they moved to the Slate building, but only for a short while…

In February 2016, Rook relocated to 501 Virginia Ave (just north of hipster heaven, Fountain Square) where it has been flourishing ever since.  The place has such a cool, trendy vibe; from the old-school hip hop coming through the speakers to the ultra-modern open kitchen, the place is no doubt superfly.  The food is created with the vibrant flavors of China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia all through Chef Carlos’ Filipino lens.  The menu changes regularly, but here are my can’t-miss choices currently on the menu…

  1. Avocado Steamed Bun…soft, elegant, and just right!  The jalapeno puts it over the top.
  2. Rook Burger…formerly known as the Okonomiyaki burger.  This thing is something everyone should experience in their lifetime.  Check out these toppings…Ube Pancake / Duck Egg / Bacon / Cheese / Banana Ketchup / Charred Scallion Mayo…Wow!  Without a doubt, not your everyday cheeseburger.
  3. Karrage Rice Bowl…two words for this dish, Fresh and Delicious!  Well, that’s actually three words, but you get the point.
  4. Halo Halo…This really can’t be missed on appearance alone.  It is essentially a purple milkshake with Fruity Pebbles, and to boot, one of Rook’s signature Macaron’s on top.

Rook is a staple on the foodie scene in Indy and is really an experience unlike any other in town.  Even though the name Rook has nothing to do with the game of chess (it actually comes from the food-gathering bird), I’ll end with a quote from the great Chess legend Siegbert Tarrasch, “I have always a slight feeling of pity for the man who has no knowledge of chess”.  I feel the same way…well, not about chess, but about great food.  Checkmate!

Tell Dustin your thoughts about Rook. You can follow him on Instagram @eatindywatchindie.

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