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.
I think the fish at Oysy is just OK. And that's the one on Grand. The one on S. Michigan Ave. is a downright disappointment. Naniwa is excellent, ask the chefs what they recommend that day, never been disappointed and I go their regularly for lunch with clients.
607 N. Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Proabably the best Sushi restaurant I have been to in a long time is Republic Pan Asian on Ontario Street. Their staff takes a lot of time to prepare the Sushi dishes and they give a very healthy porition of food. Try their Hawaiian Maki! It's awesome!
I think it's called the Blue Fish Grill. I'm not from Chicago, but our kids took us there last summer, and It was fantastic. I still dream about it. Maybe they will treat us this year when we go in. It is downtown, that's about all I know.
I love sushi. Some of my favorites include:
Mirai (trendy but very very good)
Sushi Wabi (very trendy but very very good)
Dude, you still traveling? If so, I hope you made it to Kaze! The best sushi restaurant in Chicago hands down.
I'm surprised by the number of posts that recommended Mirai, given this comment in the original post...."I am not looking for a trendy, overpriced, scene type restaurant"... doesn't this rule our Mirai? That place just feels cold to me, even though the food is good.
Kaze is not exactly near downtown, but definitely worth the trek!
re: Chew on That
Rise is precisely the kind of "trendy, overpriced, scene type" the OP is try to avoid. Please see: the existence of something called a "'tuna strawberry tempura"" role.
Honestly, the best no frills place is probably Katsu, but that's nowhere near downtown. If you can deal with some "scene", Mirai and Tsuki are both good choices.
Does anyone know if Pacific Rim Cafe (?) in Wicker Park is still around? I always enjoyed the sushi and cold soba noodles there (but maybe partly because it was cheaper than some of the trendier places in Chicago). The green tea ice cream milkshakes were also heaven!