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Jan 24, 2008 08:42 AM

Best Sushi Restaurant/Bar For Toro?

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. 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. Both Ai and Tsuki regularly have both otoro and chutoro.

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: lgolanty

          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. 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

            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

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

              1. re: beerislife

                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

                  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. 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

              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

                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


                  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

                    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


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

                      1. re: what2eat

                        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.

                      2. re: jlklp

                        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.