Sunda 0r Red Lantern
We were at Sunda on Tuesday, and had a much better experience than K4027. We made our reservation on Open Table for 6:30 p.m. and were seated immediately. Though Sunda had only been open for 2 or 3 weeks, the restaurant was operating as though it had been open much longer. Menu has a lot of interesting choices, including main courses as well as sushi and sashimi. Different sushi dishes come with different numbers of pieces - I don't know why. Nice job of interior design, not overdone. By 8 pm. most of the tables were filled,but the bar was not busy at all. Service was faultless - our orders came quickly, and dishes and tableware were cleared just as quickly.
I agree that it's a scene, but the food was good, the crowd was young and buzzing, the decor was attractive, the service went smoothly - so what's wrong with that? And to address the elitist comment about Santa Margharita, it's known as the number one wine requested in restaurants in the U.S. - so a lot of people must like it. If the wine is from a small, unknown vineyard, does that make it any better? (But Santa Margharita's price at Sunda is the highest I've ever seen.) If you can take in both restaurants, I'd like your opinion.
I was just at Sunda this weekend & let me tell you, they do not have their act together yet so you'd be much better off going to Red Light! Even with reservations we weren't sat for close to an hour past, the bar was much too crowded for comfortable waiting, and food was mediocre at best. Service was completely awful too, the waiter forgot every other thing we ordered, litereally we would ask about something and he would say "Oh yeah I forgot about that!" The wine list was laughable, lots of name-brand domestic stuff you can buy at Walgreens, (Santa Margarita?) and although they have the requisite fancy cocktail list, drinks were nothing special either just sweet things with barely any alcohol Prices weren't so good either actually pretty expensive. It's a small plates menu which is usually good but only 3 or 4 pieces per plate, so if you ask them to add apiece for an upcharge like most places will, they won't and tell you to just order another portion. It's a pretty room but seating itself is very uncomfortable. There was just nothing redeeming about the whole experience. We were a group similar to yours, late 20's/early 30's women, and we couldn't wait to get out of there. Red Light is a much better choice, foodwise and scenewise, or even Japonais if PanAsian plus sushi is what you're going for. I will give Sunda the benefit of the doubt for now since they are so new, but my dinner there last weekend was nothing I would recommend. Good luck!
Eech. Maybe I'm being a little judgemental, but I don't know that Billy Dec's group (Rockit Ranch Productions) does anything other than "scenester" dining. His other place Rockit is primarily known for trendy burgers so I guess I'm not terribly surprised. Just to gripe, I also found it really annoying that his Chef called himself the "Food Buddha." What does that even mean?
Well, Sunda just opened, so it may be difficult to find anyone who's been there yet, let alone can compare Friday night to Saturday night. In case no one posts a report, you can see the Tribune/Metromix first look at http://chicago.metromix.com/restaurants/restaurant_review/first-look-sunda/1017932/content
When you say "Red Lantern", I am guessing you actually are referring to Red Light? Red Light is one of our best and longest-standing restaurants for pan-Asian food. They get a good crowd on both weekend nights, quite a lively scene. I've always enjoyed the food and atmosphere.
You can view menus with prices on the websites of both restaurants:
Both Sunda and Red Light accept reservations on Opentable.com so you can look up availability there.
Sunda is located in the River North neighborhood. From the Ritz, it's maybe 3/4 mile to a mile - a nice walk if it's good weather, otherwise a short cab ride.
Red Light is in the West Loop. The Ritz is a mile north of the Loop, Chicago's commercial and historical center, and Red Light is a mile west of the Loop. So you would definitely want to take a cab to get there.
Given that Red Light has been around for a while, and Sunda hasn't, that will probably be the biggest factor in your decision, i.e. Do you want to try a place that's brand new and "hot" that you'll be among the first to try, or do you want to go to a place that's been around for a while and is well-known and still doing things very well? Take your pick!