Eating in The Willis Tower: My Three Day Chinese, Thanksgiving, and Half-Priced Sushi Bender at Market Creations
Working a 9 to 5 will do odd things to your eating habits. I'm not usually one for stale Entenmann's coffee cake, but put it in the office context, and I'm passing along news of the "dessert in the breakroom" like wild fire. After I've gotten a plate myself, of course.
That eat-anything-within-reach mentality bleeds to lunchtime, too. During orientation on my first day working in the
Sears Willis Tower, I learned about the largely building staff-focused Market Creations: "it's always Thanksgiving on one side and Chinese food on the other. They have sushi, too." I resisted the urge to stop in as long as I could, but in the end, I decided that giving everything a try would be much more effective at quelling my curiosity for good. A lunchroom exorcism? Let's find out.
Lunch 1: Chinese ($7.76/lb)
If I say "Chinese," and you say "Panda Express," you'll be more than happy with what's on offer here. The whole plate is a keep-adding-packets-of-soy-sauce-I'm-going-to-regret-this-later blur, though the crunchy candy coated Chicken Wings, paired simply with some white rice, could be a nice, cavity compounding, break from the brown bag.
Lunch 2: Thanksgiving ($7.76/lb)
It's Thanksgiving year round at Market Creations, a decision clearly not made by corporate efficiency experts. Between the carved turkey, stuffing, mashed potato product, and pea soup thin gravy, your afternoon just took a turn for the sleepy. Daily specials rotate in and out to keep things interesting: the Fried Tilapia is no worse than other unsalted fried offerings around town, and the Chili Garlic Roasted Chicken is good in that baked BBQ chicken sort of way.
Lunch 3: Half-Price Sushi ($11.85 until 2pm, $6.76 after)
Perched in the windowed entrance, the sushi bar tantalizes with its faux Japanese wood screen decorating scheme and its assortment of spicy tuna rolls of every shape and size. The siren song gets even louder after 2 p.m., when everything left is half price. For just a moment, leave behind the common sense notion that you're voluntarily choosing to eat raw fish, questionably sourced, that's been sitting out anywhere from 2-3 hours. You won't be alone—people start lining up at 1:45 to take advantage of the deal. Depending how high your bar is set, the sushi's not bad—approaching upscale grocery store chain levels, even. Consider it a cheap dose of nostalgia if your formidable sushi years were spent on this fare; however, the omakase crowd would be better served skipping out and heading straight for the Otis Spunkmeyer display instead.
Salad Bar ($6.76)
Both to fill in some of the hunger gaps left by a sushi lunch and say that I sampled a little bit of everything, I rounded out my third meal with a DIY Mixed Greens Salad. Though I could've chosen from various pasta salads, dressed greens, and enough chopped raw veggies to give Flattop Grill a run for its money, I went simple with chickpeas, red onion, sliced cucumbers, and crumbled bacon. Paired with a fresh looking bed of baby spinach, et al. and a nicely emulsified balsamic vinaigrette, the salad satisfied in a way that only raw food can.
What's that saying: fool me once? After three days in a row at Market Creations, I think it's clear where the shame here lies. Still, if you need your lunchtime demons exorcised, look no further—the power of gloppy gravy, imitation crab, and fried rice compels you.