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Best Sushi in Chicago?

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I need to get a gift certificate for a friend and am wondering what is considered to be Chicago's best sushi restaurant. Price/neighborhood are not important.

I have heard good things about Mirai from a friend who ate there, but who is not from Chicago and would not have had opportunity to try other places. Were does that fit on a list of Chicago's best?

Any help would be greatly appreciated - thanks in advance.

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  1. Mirai is excellent, you definitely can't go wrong with a gift certificate from there.

    Another option, although it is not only sushi, would be Japonais. Japonais has excellent sushi, but also other non-sushi dishes - its menu owes a lot to Nobu. Mirai and Japonais have the best sushi I've had in Chicago.

    I've also heard really good things about Meiji, but I've never been.

    1. Mirai and Japonais have the almost the same sushi since they are owned by the same person. Many of their sushi menu items are the same.

      In my opinion, Mirai is indeed the best sushi in Chicago. It is pretty tuna heavy with bluefin, chuturo (medium fatty), and oturo (fatty) on the menu.

      They have very creative rolls too. The food here is pristinely fresh. Also, there was a recent article in the Tribune that tested mercury content in fish and Mirai scored quite well compared to other well known places.

      It's a great gift certificate as Mirai, given its quality, is a more expensive than many of the other sushi places, making it more of a "special" sushi place for those on a tighter budget.

      1. My favorite is still the old standby Kamahachi - either old town or northbrook http://www.kamehachi.com/

        1. I also love Agami in Uptown - it's amazing. Great decor, wonderful sushi. Reminds me of SushiSambaRio, but better sushi than there.

          1. Mirai is a great choice. If you're going to be in the Lincoln Park area, I think Tsuki is just as good.

            Tsuki
            1441 W. Fullerton

            3 Replies
            1. re: jesteinf

              Best sushi resto for nigiri imo is Katsu. But don't know if they have gift certs as they are a pretty small non-trendy restaurant.

              Mirai has pretty good sushi too. Although owned by the same owners by Japonais, they consistently have better sushi. Probably the best bet for a restaurant certificate.

              1. re: urigio

                Katsu is the hands down... some of the BEST damned sushi period!

                2649 W. Peterson

                Lovely sake list by the glass and... this isn't one of those "oh, such -creative and funtastic- sushi rolls". They don't have Dragon Rolls...

                It is entirely possible that you will be the only gaikokujin (slightly derogatory word for -not Japanese-) but you will be welcomed and treated to a beautiful culinary experience. I've eaten there twice, I"ve spent WAY too much... and I loved every bite of it there.

                1. re: dinein

                  Let me add my support for Katsu. I have not been to Japonais, and I generally don't like rankings of anything, but Katsu is extremely good -- certainly among the best in Chicago.

            2. I'm curious what sushi lovers have to say about Mizu, which opened on North Avenue just west of Wells street recently. My boyfriend lived in a tiny fishing village in Japan for 2 years and LOVED it. It made Chicago Magazine's list of top 25 restaurants in 2006 but I haven't heard much from others.

              1. I remember liking Mirai sushi but thinking what I had at Katsu was out of control. The fish was incredibly fresh, like nothing I've had in the Midwest. The place isn't exactly a Zen paradise (it has more of a homey look and feel), but it is expert sushi.

                1. I love Tsuki. It's got a delicious, creative menu geared towards diners ordering a lot of little things and sharing. I've never been to Mirai or Katsu, but I've heard great things about both. Another one to check out is Sushi Wabi.

                  1. Sushi Wabi and Starfish are two superior sushi locations.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: donnzi

                      I love Sushi Wabi, and completely agree with the people who have recommended it.

                      I've never liked Starfish though. The service I've had there has been slow and, once, rude. I also once had to send back a roll that smelled like the fish was going bad. The replacement roll, seemed fresh and my friends enjoyed it, but I had lost my appetite.

                      1. re: donnzi

                        Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm SUSHI WABI!!!!

                        1. re: Chicago Michele

                          Mirai and Sushi Wabi are the two places I go when in Chicago. You won't regret Mirai.

                      2. Tsuki is an abomination. No one in their right mind would go to a joint that serves sushi alfresco, with dogs allowed ON the patio. Uni is usually a good rubric for a sushi joint and this place failed miserably.

                        Mizu is a wannabe yakitori that just can NOT do anything right. Avoid at all costs. My "friend" who "taught in Japan", "engaged to a sushi chef", "hosted 2 restaurants in the Mirai empire", blah blah blah - since we're showboating creditials of other people - and I both thought this place was a joke.

                        Only half a dozen" Japanese" joints left in the city (there are others but Sunshine's closed for now, Kamehachi has long been corporated-franchised, ad nausea): Matsuya on Clark, Itto Sushi in LP, Ginza in River North, and Cocoro/East, also in River North. Japanese owned, Japanese operated. Walk into the tatami room @ Ginza and feel like you're 2 degrees of separation away from being in the yakuza. Can't touch that feel at Starfish/Mirai/Tsuki/insert-your-chic-Trixie-J-joint-here.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: TonyC

                          That's like saying Bayless can't cook Mexican food. I think we've progressed enough that non-natives can still make as good a food.

                          1. re: NDJ

                            argumentative whether true or not. Oxymoronically, Mirai/Japonais exec sushi chef is... alas, Japanese albeit Ms. Lim is Korean.

                            That said, I'd rather eat Geno Bahena's (or his brother in law, or any other lady making her hand pressed masas thingies on Maxwell Street) Mexican food than Bayless's.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              You must not have been to Tepatulco yet. Mediocre to it's core.

                        2. Although I really enjoy the whole Ginza experience, I don't think its the best sushi in town. Certainly very authentic and there is no doubt once you enter that it is Japanese run, but its more on the level of the average suburban Tokyo sushi-ya. Good solid food that I am sure makes the local Japanese ex-pats a little home sick. Plus some killer lunch specials.

                          For the best sushi in town I would say Mirai which seems to have the best, most interesting, and most carefully prepared selection, and then Meiji for something a little non-traditional.

                          I am no fan at all of Naniwa at which I have had a couple below average meals, or sushi samba rio since I'm really no fan of the latin/sushi fusion. Spicy avocado mayonnaise drizzled over raw fish is just not something that appeals to me. The Japanese have been working for a couple thousand years to get this sushi thing down and its a mistake to alter it too much. That being said, my favorite Maki in town is the Tsunami Maki (at Tsunami) which is made with spicy mayonnaise...

                          I'll agree that Mizu was less than compelling.

                          Other than that, there are several that I find quite good, if not spectacular - Oysy, Tsunami, Sushi Wabi (although not a fan of the Industrial decor and techno music), Sai Cafe, etc.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: wak

                            I just recently went to Sai Cafe and it was an awesome experience. Im a culinary student and me and my friends got to meet the chef and he seemed really cool. The food was great also. Wonderful quality and great sevice. We went early so it wasnt busy, but by the time we were done the place was packed. They are only open for dinner service though. Thier menu wasnt huge but they had a great selection of traditional and non-traditional maki and other things. Not to mention the place has been there for 20 years...so they have to be doing well. I would definately go back.

                            1. re: Stilettosinthekitchen

                              Sai Cafe is FANTASTIC! You must advise your friend to get the Halloween Roll! DEEEEELICIOUS!

                          2. Nobody's mentioned Kaze. I'm a fan.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jgs2

                              I went to Kaze last week and I must say that place is the bomb. I liked it so much that I went back to Mirai (one of my favorites) for comparison purposes right afterward - blows it out of the water plus it was a little cheaper and they had a more interesting by-the-glass sake selection.

                              Mirai and Kaze are both a little different, however. Kaze has nigiris and sashimis that are prepared with elaborate sauces, etc. Mirai is a little bit more traditional (but not traditional in a Katsu way). Fish was great there, plus they have a $40 tasting menu on Tuesdays.

                            2. kaze sushi on roscoe!! seasonal sushi specials as well as some very interesting entrees plus all the regular rolls you expect. high quality ingredients, beautifully prepared. the restaurant is elegant and the service is great. very intimate space.

                              b/c don't you get tired of the industrial feel/blaring techno and saketinis which are at most sushi restaurants?

                              bob san is also great sushi, but i don't like the atmostphere as much.

                              oops, i didn't see the post right before mine! that's two votes for kaze!

                              1. I hope its not too late to chime in my thoughts...

                                What does your friend like? Sashimi? Nigiri? Maki? Specialty Rolls?

                                I'm a huge fan of Coast Sushi... i love the fact that they offer Fatty Salmon - its the only place I've seen with that offering... and it is FANTASTIC. Its not on the menu but its usually on the specials board... And they have a fantastic Yellowtail Carpacio. And BYOB. I love that they are packed Monday thru Sunday - and they have two dining rooms. The prices are not cheap but not over the top either.

                                Sai Cafe - I love their sashimi here... Nice cuts of fish. They used to serve their sashimi dinners in ice bowls.

                                Sushi Wabi - Great rolls... great sushi and sashimi... Although if you're an albacore fan don't order it their. It usually seared - in my opinion that means its not fresh enough. Albacore should just melt in your mouth.

                                Star Fish - I used to go all the time and the manager would recognize my voice when I would call for reservations. I love their specialty rolls... as well as their sashimi.

                                Heat - an experience like no other. You never know what you're going to get b/c the menu changes so much. I love letting the chef choose my meal there.

                                Mirai - Everything there is super yummy. I just end up broke by the time I'm full.

                                Japonais - Usually go there for drinks but did have some sushi there... it was definitely tasty and recommended. Yet another place I'd be broke by the time I'm full....

                                Tank - Great Sashimi...

                                Butterfly - granted its Thai and Sushi... its been around maybe a year... Had some fresh and fantastic sashimi there. Weekends are PACKED with group parties - due to the fact they are BYOB and take reservations. Which is good b/c fish is constantly moving. Excellent thai spicy curry over escargot.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: kykii

                                  I was just thinking that Butterfly hadn't been mentioned yet. We've been there twice in the last couple of months and it's by far the best sushi we've had in a long time. Very creative rolls, although I can't remember the names of them (maybe as a result of the BYOB!). Ditto on the thai spicy escargot served with garlic bread. Sounds out-of-place for a sush/thai place, but it is soooo good.

                                  1. re: wineaux

                                    Nice to know someone feels the same way. The service is kind of crazy b/c its packed... but they are sooo nice.

                                    Great crunchy spicy tuna, too!!

                                2. You guys read my mind. Butterfly is our local favorite and eat there all the time. Great value, great people and great food. That said, for a more upscale sushi experience, you cannot beat the ingredients and sushi Kaze marries. It is over the top.

                                  1. first post... hello all!

                                    I highly recommend Hachi's Kitchen in Logan square. Great ambiance and of course the food as well. My GF is going to kill me if she finds out I'm posting this on a public forum... but I want to see it thrive and last a while! Coast is a close second and I also like the homely feel of Oysy in the south loop where I live.

                                    http://www.hachiskitchen.com
                                    http://www.coastsushibar.com
                                    http://www.oysysushi.com

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: seneca.dj

                                      Mmmm! COAST is great! FYI - it is also BYOB, so let your friend know that when you gift the certificate! I also reccommend Rise on Southport - great atmosphere, very fun!

                                      1. re: seneca.dj

                                        Hachi's was good. Great Toro, decent nigiri, okay sake selection, service fizzled toward the end.....What I really missed was the sushi bar!!
                                        I know they're tight on room there in Logan Square but the absence of a sushi bar doesn't make sense - though the decor is beautiful.

                                      2. I've been to them all, MANY times, Sai Cafe is the best.
                                        http://www.saicafe.com/

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: MahiMahiFish

                                          MahiMahi,

                                          Sai Cafe is the best! There are two locations one in Lincoln Park and one in Logan's Square different name. They have fresh sushi 7 days a week. Very reasonably priced.

                                          1. re: MahiMahiFish

                                            Agreed!

                                          2. I just wanted to give a shout out to my favorite sushi restaurant in Chicago: Midori Sushi 3310 W Bryn Mawr Ave- I have had some of the freshest, most beautifully presented, and innocative (wacky) rolls at Midori over the years. I usually judge a sushi restaurant by ordering a Chirachi-zushi, and Chef Robert (nope, not Japanese) will choose a wide variety of the day's freshest. Because of its location ian a Korean-heavy part of town, certain dishes, rolls, etc have Korean influences, including a version of the Chirachi, served with fresh greens and tossed 1000 times with sunchan gocouchang (sp?). I will be the first to admit familiarity helps pave over the hit-and miss servers (sit at the bar if you are alone)- but once they know you, your stomach will thank you forever.

                                            Yeah, I'm a cheesy bastard!

                                            They do have generic gift certificates- just ask at the register.
                                            As for everone elses' Suggestions, I like Katsu, too- when I have the money, I go there and order only off of the special menu- always fantastic!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: lunchbox

                                              Lunchbox knows his stuff. Midori is where it's at!! One of the original places in the city and though it is strongly Korean influences and the sushi chef is Latino the place rocks - Good cuts, tatami room, decent service and cheap booze. Great place on the North Side far away from those overpriced, over-the-top fusion sushi joints popping up everywhere.

                                            2. Kuni's, in Evanston, is very good. I haven't yet been to Kansaku, the new place in Evanston.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                                I have to say I Iove Kaze too! I haven't been there in a while but have LOVED it every time, they have fantastic Lyche Martinis,mmmmmmm. I also love Wakamono on Broadway @ Buckingham. Very yummy. I have been to Meiji (Randolf and Halsted) which was good but much more expensive than the other two. We have also heard good things about Indie Cafe up by 5100 N Broadway (they do Japanese and Thai). Sakura (Cafe Blossom) is decent (Barry @ Broadway) if you are poor but want sushi, haha!

                                              2. Don't overlook Sushi Mura in the 3600 N block of Southport. Japanese run, really fun with GREAT sushi and Sake-Bombs that the ownere partakes in. Creative rolls and great music. Outdoor too. Really good.

                                                1. This post is over a year old - any new suggestions for sushi in Chicago? I will be there for a wedding soon.

                                                  1. There are a TON of sushi restaurants in Chicago but two that I've been to that I really liked were:

                                                    Rise: http://www.risesushi.com/Rise/
                                                    Tsuki Sushi: http://www.visittsuki.com/

                                                    I've also heard really good things about Sushi Para (http://www.centerstagechicago.com/res...) but I've never been myself.

                                                    Hope this helps!
                                                    Hillary

                                                    1. I just returned from a trip to Chicago and read this topic with interest. We followed these recommendations. Japonais was exotic and expensive, but the food didn't knock my socks off. Mirai has good standard sushi but their special items went from ordinary to bad. The kobi beef roll was just awful, like a roast beef tv dinner drenched in unagi sauce! I cannot eat shellfish, and so there were almost no special rolls that we could order. The tempura veggie rolls were good. Everything else was just ok.
                                                      Having been to some astounding sushi places in San Francisco and LA--places where you feel like you've eaten the best meal of your life--I'd have to say that there is no really great sushi in Chicago. And for standard sushi, Kamehachi is more convenient and cheaper than either of these places.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: buff crone

                                                        Buff - What are your recommendations for sushi in SF?