looking for great sushi anywhere near downtown
i used to live in Chicago ( lincoln park ) back in the early nineties and ate all my sushi at either Sai Cafe or Kamehachi on Wells. I am now traveling to Chicago for business about once a month and would like an update on where to go for very fresh sushi.
I went to Kamehachi on a recent trip and was disappointed. The sushi was all pre-sliced, there was not a lot of variety, and it was not as fresh as I would have liked. I have not been back to Sai Cafe. I am not looking for a trendy, overpriced, scene type restaurant that makes lots of crunchy, sauced-up rolls. Just somewhere where I can get a good variety of very fresh fish cut to order for nigiri sushi and sashimi.
I like Sai Cafe, but it's not all that convenient to downtown, if that's where you're staying. My favorite Japanese restaurant in all of Chicago is Meiji, at 623 W. Randolph. It's elegant, as opposed to trendy, the food is very high-quality, and the fish has always been very fresh every time I've eaten there. Although they do have specialty makimono, they're quite good, and if you don't like that sort of thing they have all the traditional ones, too (just ask for them, as they're not on the menu). Of course, the nigirizushi is topnotch, too. For a special treat, try their wonderful omakase of kaiseki dishes (when I had it, it included *batera* - Osaka-style pressed sushi) - but call in advance for that.
If you want something very traditional and also top-quality, try Ginza Fish, at 19 E. Ohio. Located in the same building as the seamy Tokyo Hotel, Ginza is small and the polar opposite of trendy (it might even be called shabby) - but the restaurant itself is clean, and the fish is first-rate. Nigirizushi are served by the pair, and there are no "Spider Rolls" on the menu - just good solid traditional sushi and noodle dishes. They also have the best bargain in Japanese lunches - $8.75 for a two-course lunch where you choose one dish from column "A" and one from column "B." I usually add a sashimi salad for an extra few bucks: seaweed and lettuce topped usually with fresh crab (not surimi, the fake stuff), slices of salmon, and a few pristine baby scallops, sprinkled with sesame seeds and doused with their delicious sunomono dressing. Yum! Here's a link to a review (they're too old-fashioned to have a web site, I guess).
I am a fan of the Kamehachi - they have has a Sushi Bar in the Westin between Clark and Dearborn on the River - and there also is the Kamehachi location in Streeterville - 240 East Ontario -
I love sushi--my favorite food. In chicago, my two favorites are: Kaze and Mirai. Kaze is in Roscoe Village. It has the most unique presentations and freshest fish, think seared tuna, with white truffle sauce and shitakes, hirame with mint and lemon, hamachi with banana peppers, etc. Also love Mirai. A bit trendier than Kaze--Kaze is small neighborhood spot--sit at the bar and ask for the chef's selection--Kaze will keep bringing things out until you cry uncle. Mirai also is good--sit upstairs, more loungey and less sterile--try the kani nigiri, spikcy octopus handroll, spicy mono roll, zuke salmon roll and have to have a red one (great cocoktail). let us know where you end up!
Mirai is wonderful and worth the trip over to Wicker Park/Bucktown.
If you want to stay closer to downtown Oysy (on Grand near Wabash) is a good option. It has the trendy rolls, but it also has good fish.
Naniwa (Wells near Ohio) - has very fresh fish cut to order without the fancy rolls.