148. Barrington EATS: Spice it Up on the Patio at pl8

3 mins read
pl8's Fireworks Salmon Maki, Courtesy of Susan McConnell Photography

If you love spicy food, prepare to be satisfied.  To feel the heat, mark your calendars for a special spicy food dinner coming up at pl8 Simply Asian.  The one-year-old Barrington restaurant is the hottest spot in town to get your sushi, Thai or traditional Chinese food fix at a cool urban oasis here in the heart of suburbia.

pl8 Dining Room, Courtesy of Susan McConnell Photography

I love that pl8 fulfills the experienced sushi palates in my family while providing traditional dishes like Pad Thai and Crispy Sesame Chicken that the non-Sushi eating members of my family love.  But watch out!  One look at the following photos and your appetite might get sassy…

pl8's Crispy Sesame Chicken, Courtesy of Susan McConnell Photography

The prices at pl8 are not much more than your traditional over-the-counter Chinese and the experience is worth every penny. The décor and upbeat atmosphere are transporting, as though you’ve just made a trip to Chicago without the long drive or parking challenge.

pl8 Simply Asian, Courtesy of Susan McConnell Photography

With more than 20 years experience at the helm of downtown restaurants such as Ben Pao, owner Ed Culleeney knows not only what it takes to run a great restaurant, but with years perfecting and creating dishes, he knows great flavor. It’s a gift he’s passing down to his own daughter, Meghan, one of pl8’s managers.

Ed & Meghan Culleeney, Courtesy of Susan McConnell Photography

Ed’s flair for great flavor is proven in the way he met up with his partner, Shawn Li, who hails from the Sichuan Provence of southwestern China.  Shawn has both perfected dishes local to his heritage (try Pl8’s Chong Ching Noodle Soup, a spicy fish soup recipe from his hometown) and generally helped round out pl8’s diverse menu.

pl8's Chong Ching Noodle Soup, Courtesy of Susan McConnell Photography

The two bonded over their obsession for ingredients and flavor, a fact that you can’t overlook in their food. We also recently tried the Thai Basil Shrimp and found not only were the shrimp themselves divine (wild-caught shrimp from the Baja Peninsula), but they were swimming in a marriage of flavors including rich sauce, fresh herbs and select spices.

pl8's Thai Basil Shrimp, Courtesy of Susan McConnell Photography

And now, with summer on the verge, pl8’s outdoor patio adds another layer to the fun. This will be a great place to meet friends for cocktails or dine al fresco this season. And with pl8’s upcoming Spicy Food and Cold Brew Dinner, there will be even more of a Chicago experience in Barrington for you to enjoy. Partnering with Lagunitas Brewing Company, as part of Chicago’s Craft Beer week, pl8 is hosting this special spicy menu dinner on May 24th from 6 to 8 p.m

The Patio at pl8 Simply Asian

The event will pair spicy Asian and Sichuan dishes with the cool, robust brews from Lagunitas. For $50 per person (inclusive of tax & gratuity), the dinner will include four of pl8’s most popular appetizers including my new favorite, the Fireworks Salmon Maki, as part of a five-course dinner.  Some of the other dishes on the special menu are Dry Stir Fry Shredded Beef and Spicy Sichuan Shrimp, Triple Treasure Molten Cake dessert, 6 select beers, entertainment and a chance to win dinner for four at pl8. The event will be reservation only and is expected to sell out, so call 847-382-1988 to reserve your space.

pl8's Fireworks Salmon Maki, Courtesy of Susan McConnell Photography

The dinner will be held on the outdoor patio, weather permitting, at pl8, 736 W. Northwest Highway, at the Foundry of Barrington.  The restaurant will also be participating in Craft Beer Week, offering a flight of Lagunitas craft beers for just $4 from May 17th – 27th.  For more information about pl8, visit their website at pl8SimplyAsian.com.

About the Author

Kelly Donlea is a Barrington mom, chef, cookbook author the owner of Organizing Dinner, a company that brings sensible cooking solutions to busy people. She has published several cookbooks and one of her specialties is helping parents plan family meals with fewer trips to the grocery store. Kelly also offers cooking classes and demonstrations in your home or public facility. To learn more about Kelly, her recipes and her services, you’ll find her Facebook page by clicking HERE and her website at OrganizingDinner.com. Kelly is going to be sharing recipes, cooking tips and special features about chefs and popular menu items at area restaurants right here at 365Barrington.com.

Please join us as we discover local culinary treasures and new kitchen classics in our new, local and regular food feature here at 365Barrington.com called “Barrington Eats” with Kelly Donlea!

We also thank Barrington photographer, Susan McConnell, for capturing these beautiful images at pl8.  For more information about Susan, visit her website at SusanMcConnellPhotography.com.

If you’d like to us to feature you favorite chef or restaurant or if you have a food related question that you’d like Kelly to answer, make a quick stop at the 365 Barrington Suggestion Box and leave us a note in the form which you’ll find by clicking HERE.


  1. Not only did I love taking these photographs, I really LOVED the food. It was a great experience and the people were oh so nice. That night I went home and grabbed my boyfriend and took him there for dinner!

  2. PL8 is a terrific addition to the highly-creative end of the Barrington culinary scene. Susan’s photos, of course, make it all the more inviting. Beautiful.

  3. Can we eat here our next visit? Nice article and the food looks so delicious in the photos!

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