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Best Sushi Restaurant/Bar For Toro?

Bhickman Jan 24, 2008 08:42 AM

I'm looking for the best Sushi restaurant/bar to taste the wonders of what many consider to be the best part of the tuna, either O-torro or chu-toro.

The place I'm leaning towards going to tomorrow night, Ringo, doesn't seem to indicate that they have this delightful part of the tuna and, if I'm going out to get good sushi, I want good sushi.

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  1. g
    gordeaux RE: Bhickman Jan 24, 2008 09:38 AM

    I don't think you should go to a Sushi place hell bent on one specific fish (especially in Chicago.) It is generally best to sidle up to the chef, and ask them to present you with the freshest selection that they have. That being said, you'll probably find the consistently freshest at Mirai, Wabi, Katsu, Kaze, Japonais, NoMi, and prolly others that will be recommended. That being said, it's highly possible that one of the standard sushi spots might just have better o-toro than the pricey spots on any given night. I really think if you're "going out to get good sushi" like you said, you should simply ask the chef what is good instead of going in with a preconceived notion about what you *think* should be good at that restaurant on that day simply because you are going to be there. A big part of being a good sushi chef is knowing what is good that day. My best experiences in any sushi place in any part of the world I've been to so far have always been when I ask the chef to simply make what is good.

    Don't get me wrong, O-toro is good, but I've had SABA in California that was better than some o-toro I've had in Chicago. When you have ultra fresh anything, it just might blow your notion away that o-toro or chu-toro is the best stuff ever.

    All in all, if I wanted good sushi like I think you want good sushi, I'd go to Wabi, Mirai, or Katsu, and ask them to hook you up with what's good, and ask for an o-toro or chu-toro presentation.

    1. j
      jesteinf RE: Bhickman Jan 24, 2008 10:08 AM

      Both Ai and Tsuki regularly have both otoro and chutoro.

      1. l
        lgolanty RE: Bhickman Jan 24, 2008 10:08 AM

        IMHO Ringo kinda sucks. Tank, T Spot, and Kite are also on Lincoln, pretty great, but further north.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lgolanty
          beerislife RE: lgolanty Jan 25, 2008 09:18 AM

          Ringo totally sucks: owned by the Tsuki/Ai people, but with none of the quality (not that I love either Tsuki or Ai). It is bad, even by Mom and Pop standards. And, as a former server of sushi, I can tell you that the quality of toro changes with the season, and often totally depends on what comes in. Servers will always tell you it looks great (because it is the most expensive piece on the list), but it is often either previously frozen (chefs get better pricing for big, last-minute chunks of bluefin from pushy distributors, which they then carefully protect and freeze...but it's not the same). A lot of fish quality also depends on the chef's relationship with the suppliers: someone, after all, has to get called first when something great comes in.

          I agree: best in the city is Mirai; Kaze; Katsu; and, lately, Tsunami.

        2. b
          Bhickman RE: Bhickman Jan 24, 2008 01:55 PM

          gourdeaux: I'm definitely bookmarking this thread for home use. Thank you for your help! I'm a sushi novice and have really only been to one or two places. I'm looking to expand my horizons and your suggestions will help.

          The other suggestions are great too and I may end up at Kite as it's nearby where I'll be and looks like a nice place. Thanks for that tip 1golantly!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Bhickman
            gordeaux RE: Bhickman Jan 24, 2008 05:45 PM

            Another suggestion for you: find a neighborhood sushi joint, or a place that is recommended as a neighborhood kinda place. Sit at the bar, and talk to the chef. A simple "what is very good today" (which is considered very polite in japan,) or a "what are you making, it looks excellent" every once in a while will be just fine. If you enjoy your meal, and know you will be back, BUY THE CHEF A BEER!!! You will reap rewards tenfold. Make sure you ask when he is usually working as you leave.

            Cool no frills spots that I love going to:
            Matsuya on Clark, and Itto on Halsted. Both are not on the same level as say Wabi, Mirai, or Katsu but if I go, and sit at the bar, and let the chef take care of everything, I'll get a VERY good meal. They will simply present what is good, and steer you clear of what is not, even if you ask for a certain piece of fish, if it's not particularly fresh that day, they will tell you.

            1. re: gordeaux
              beerislife RE: gordeaux Jan 25, 2008 09:20 AM

              Itto is one of the best kept secrets in town. Really good fish. I forgot that one in my post above.

              1. re: beerislife
                gordeaux RE: beerislife Jan 25, 2008 11:16 AM

                While I do agree, most of the standard spots in town SHOULD have very good fish if you simply ask them to prepare what is fresh. It is easy to have a subpar experience at almost any sushi joint if you order things without knowing if they are ultra fresh or not. In the days before I knew what the heck I was really doing, I did not have great meals at Itto, I just thought it was your standard run of the mill joint. After I simply let them serve what they knew was good, it became one of my go to spots. Fish as good and fresh as the pricier places, albeit probably a more limited selection. Matsuya - same deal.

                On the flip side, if I try a new place, I always ask the chef to prepare what is fresh. If the first thing they prepare is NOT fresh, I will leave, and simply never return. Life is way too short for bad sushi, and it ain't cheap, either.

                1. re: gordeaux
                  lgolanty RE: gordeaux Jan 25, 2008 11:35 AM

                  I've also been going to Tanoshii a lot lately. Good place to bring the chefs beers (it's byob) but whether you do or not, you just ask Chef Mike to make you whatever he thinks is good.

                  Sure many of you have been there, but thought it was worth mentioning.

          2. w
            what2eat RE: Bhickman Jan 25, 2008 01:26 PM

            I agreee with the prvious posts. Sit down at the sushi bar , buy the chef a beer or sake. Everyone knows thats the best way to get anything good. Engage them in conversation The last time I did that, I got spmething that wasn't even on the menu, hamachi with jalapenoes and finished with ponzu sauce. And to keep the hamachi party going the maki chef made me a roll with similar ingredients/preparation. I am a regular now at this sushi spot and they always take care of me.

            7 Replies
            1. re: what2eat
              gordeaux RE: what2eat Jan 25, 2008 02:48 PM

              Lol. Hey what2eat - What's your spot??

              I gave up mine!! (Although in all fairness, Itto, and Matsuya have been around forever.) I'll understand if you don't want the hounds blowin up your spot ;-)

              1. re: gordeaux
                ljero RE: gordeaux Jan 25, 2008 03:03 PM

                the best are: Mirai (great toro dish on menu, too with quail egg), Katsu and Kaze. I prefer Kaze. go sit at the sushi bar and let Kaze work his magic--jsut tell him you wants lots of toro! :)

                1. re: gordeaux
                  what2eat RE: gordeaux Jan 26, 2008 08:51 AM


                  I'd be happy to give up my place for all to see.Somewhat out of the way( North Shore Area). They also have a place in the city too; it's just called blu. It's inside of the orrington hotel in Evanston

                  1. re: what2eat
                    jlklp RE: what2eat Jan 26, 2008 03:58 PM

                    Kuni's in Evanston has very good sushi (generous portions and good prices) and I have heard good things about Sushi Wabi. I also really like Toro Sushi but have not tried the Toro there.

                    1. re: jlklp
                      what2eat RE: jlklp Jan 28, 2008 06:56 AM


                      Where is Kuni's. Only familiar with downtown Evanston. Is it a traditional sushi place?

                      1. re: what2eat
                        jlklp RE: what2eat Jan 30, 2008 09:38 AM

                        Kuni's is on Main street on Evanston, so not by the NW campus. It's a traditional no frills sushi place similar to Itto sushi in Lincoln Park. I liked it a lot and seems like others do too. http://www.yelp.com/biz/kunis-japanes...

                      2. re: jlklp
                        mattlap_2000 RE: jlklp Jan 28, 2008 08:17 AM

                        As I used to live around the corner from Toro, I've been there probably 30 times - ironically, I'm never seen Otoro, (fatty tuna) on the menu.

                2. Enorah RE: Bhickman Jan 26, 2008 04:26 PM

                  I agree with the Katsu recommendations.

                  We left Chicago a few years ago and I still miss it.

                  1. g
                    gordeaux RE: Bhickman Jan 27, 2008 12:36 PM

                    Bhickman -
                    Eagerly waiting your report. What / where / how was it?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gordeaux
                      Bhickman RE: gordeaux Jan 30, 2008 07:56 AM

                      My plans were canceled unfortunately. I'm going to try to go next month.

                    2. m
                      mattlap_2000 RE: Bhickman Jan 28, 2008 08:18 AM

                      I'd always advocate Mirai, when talking Sushi.

                      1. b
                        Bhickman RE: Bhickman Mar 10, 2008 09:32 AM

                        I ended up going to Matsuya on Friday night (finally!). I loved it. The best sashimi and sushi I've had. I tried the "torro" and did not like it. Next time I go I'm going to try whatever's recommended to me and get some more of their great tempura.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Bhickman
                          Bhickman RE: Bhickman May 13, 2008 08:04 AM

                          So sushi has taken over my senses and crave it constantly now. There's a place near where I live called "I Love Sushi" and I've been there like 5 times in the past month. They've got a great "Godzilla" roll which features spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, unagi sauce, avocado and tempura crunch and is out of this world. I just went there yesterday as a matter of fact.

                          I even got my wife into sushi and now she's as nuts for it as I am. I'm trying to figure out if I should go downtown on Friday and surprise her with a trip to Sushi Wabi for her birthday.

                          1. re: Bhickman
                            gordeaux RE: Bhickman May 13, 2008 12:12 PM

                            This is exactly what happened to me, and probably a lot of other people: "The Craving." I remember those days - lol.

                            Wabi would be a great choice for a special event.

                            Another place to go if you're into the "fashion rolls," and a hip scene full of twentysomethings looking to be seen is Butterfly on Grand. It's also BYOB which makes the scene a little more tolerable (hilarious) if you ask me. The sushi is decent too. It's loud, packed, and quite the scene on wknds. It might be a fun place to have some good shi in a clubby setting.

                            1. re: gordeaux
                              Bhickman RE: gordeaux May 14, 2008 04:31 AM


                              Thank you! I'm not exactly looking to be seen, but I'm constantly looking for the freshest, tastiest sushi I can find. I've heard some really positive things about Wabi and some not that weren't so raving. But I trust your opinion and hopefully will be able to go.

                              1. re: Bhickman
                                gordeaux RE: Bhickman May 14, 2008 12:11 PM

                                Wabi is good. Really good. If you want to put yourself into another master's hands, I would suggest Katsu. Little unassuming place up on Peterson. Will cost you some $$$. Again, always trust the chef to deliver what is freshest. Not a place for fashion rolls, but for pristine fish, and good home cooked japanese food (get a yellowtail jaw if you can) it's a great "go to" special occasion place IMO.

                                1. re: gordeaux
                                  Bhickman RE: gordeaux May 17, 2008 07:11 AM

                                  oooh....yellowtail jaw sounds good. I keep hearing how the head of the fish is so much better than the rest, too. Thanks for the suggestion on Katsu.

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