Care for Syringe of Crab?

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Even by the ambitious standards of American four-star dining, moto, the madcap Chicago experiment of chef Homaro Cantu, is a strange restaurant. Eating there is like dropping into an upscale restaurant with the Jetsons. Crab chowder consists of a tiny but menacing soft-shell crab perched atop a lump of chilled crabmeat and black caviar. On the side, four plastic syringes are stacked between slender silver barbell magnets. Each syringe is filled with a tasty soup: Peruvian potato, cream, carrot, garlic leek. Squeeze one into your mouth, crunch into the crab and move on to the next. This is but a single dish of the 5-, 7-, 10-and 19-course tasting menus, which range in price from $50 to $160 a person. Quirks are de rigueur in this stark warehouse-district hot spot. The prelude to eating a bowl of smoky watermelon soup is a spoonful of frozen Dijon mustard powder that, as one of the lab-coat-donned waiters puts it, "really opens up your taste buds." Corkscrew flatware stuffed with lavender and bruleed garlic enhances the olfactory experience of eating scallops and daikon radish in a Brazil-nut puree. Dining chatter revolves around how they are going to serve, let alone create, dishes like "12-year Gouda ice cream with balsamic vinegar." Moto, a whiplash blend of science and art, will captivate some and annoy others. Most dishes triumph (especially the fish courses), while some — well, maybe we're not quite ready for them. Yet.