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Need GOOD Sushi...

SO... I'm new to the Chicago area (grew up in Suburbs... but never spent much time downtown). I've been in Boston for the last 12 years, where I've become accustomed to some excellent sushi.

So... the question goes to the experts: what's the best joint for Sushi around here? Obviously I'm a fan of some excellent maki, but what it really comes down to is the quality of the fish: I'm looking for thick, fresh, cuts of salmon sashimi.

Any suggestions?


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  1. Generally, you're going to be disappointed in sushi in Chicago coming from the east coast. But, there are 3 places I would recommend since you seem to be primarily interested in the quality of the fish as opposed to maki (the problem here is that there is such great demand for "fashion maki" in this city that there aren't many places that place a premium on sourcing quality ingredients).

    First, there's Mirai in Bucktown. Excellent quality fish and pretty decent people watching in the bar upstairs.

    Second, there's Ponzu in Lincoln Park. This is a recent discovery of mine. Tiny neighborhood place in Lincoln Park with an old-school sushi chef that is flying stuff in from Tokyo.

    Third (and a bit farther afield) is Katsu. No frills (again, pretty old-school) but excellent quality fish.

    2020 W Division St
    (773) 862-8500

    2407 N Clark St
    (773) 549-8890

    2651 W Peterson Ave

    1 Reply
    1. re: jesteinf

      i wholeheartedly second the Mirai rec....fish flown in fresh daily...they have a wonderful soy marinated salmon, as well as madai often on the special menu. Try their spicy octoupus handrolls, as well as some of their specialty rools such as the tuna tuna salmon, spicy mono, and special salmon roll...do not forgot the kani nigiri--warm crab sushi piece...best of both worlds in terms of freshness of sushi and also great maki, too. Sit upstairs, have a red one martini, and enjoy! also agree with katsu, but love kaze.

      1. re: nsxtasy

        You will not be disappointed with Sai Cafe. I PROMISE!! We lived in NYC for seven years and this might be better than some of the sushi I've had there (very bold statement!). The salmon here melts in your mouth. Ahi poki is amazing, the soft shell crab (when in season is delicious), tako sansai is great if you like octopus. Everything is great there. Sit at the sushi bar and talk with Dan, the sushi chef you'll have an amazing time! Report back!

      2. i am from miami and was desperately looking for great sushi in chicago. the suggestions here are all very adequate but my best experience has been from SHAW'S CRABHOUSE on hubbard. i have been getting my sushi there for years and take out when ever i have a party. it isn't really a surprise that a seafood restaurant would have quality fish, just not an obvious choice because it is not a traditional japanese restaurant. the sushi chef is naoki nakashima (ex sushi chef from NOMI) . the sushi is so fresh and aside from the usual choices there are some modern rolls like the lobster/avocado roll in red soy paper with cilantro sauce and no rice rolls (great even if you are not on a low carb diet!) . you can get the sushi in the restaurant or lounge.http://www.shawscrabhouse.com/chicago...

        4 Replies
        1. re: amaliax

          OOOOH -
          VERY good to know. A suprise for me. Thanks for the info. The prices look a little steep, but I'll have to try it out! haven't been to Shaw's in ages. Thanks again!.

          1. re: amaliax

            Very interesting... I'll have to check out the Salmon Sashimi... :-)

            1. re: mcukier

              The FDA requires that all salmon used for sashimi be frozen to kill parasites so even coastal cities have to be in compliance and there should be no compromise in quality at Chicago sushi restaurants.

              1. re: ferret

                I second that. You shouldn't think that sushi in Boston, New York or Miami are better JUST because they are on an ocean. It is the quality of the ingredients, the skill of the chef and the preparation that count. The advantage those cities have is that they might have access to seafood that doesn't have to be frozen, for example, Maine shrimp. But sushi fish in the U.S. is generally flash frozen.

          2. If you're looking for something a little more casual, Toro Sushi is very good. I'm a former Manhattan sushi snob and I enjoyed Toro. It's BYOB. It gets crowded, so go early or late.
            2546 N. Clark St.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mmilanam

              Kaze is really great for sushi with a twist. They'll do special nigiri options like salmon with mushrooms and truffle oil. They are located in Roscoe Village.

              Also for a more laid back hip place with great sushi I recommend Wakamono in East Lakeview.

              Kaze Sushi
              2032 W Roscoe St, Chicago, IL 60618

              Wakamono Sushi Bar
              3317 N Broadway, Chicago, IL

              1. re: Gweck

                Kaze is my personal favorite in the city. More Japanese than pure sushi but some inventive things with fish that you don't see elsewhere.

                For a pure sushi house, Katsu is the best on the list.

            2. I would recommend Sushi Kushi! Very good sushi and other dishes.
              They have 2 locations-one in Lake Forest, IL and one in Highland Park, IL downtown. So you don't have to go to the city. I prefer the Highland Park location-it's called Sushi Kushi Too-located at 495 Central Avenue, Highland Park, IL 60035-Phone: 847-681-8997 The one in Lake forest is good but I think the HIghland Park one is better. ENJOY! I am 1/2 Japanese so I know what good sushi tastes like!

              1. I had some excellent sushi at ITTO SUSHI on Halstead. I am sort-of new to Chicago so I haven't had a chance to try all the good sushi joints, but Itto definitely delivered. Traditional menu items - nothing fusion-y, which is fine by me. We were the only Americans in the place - the rest was a Japanese clientele.

                Chicago CH'ers: How does this place rate against other recommendations?

                9 Replies
                1. re: lemiller610

                  I'd rate Itto as upper end of the middle tier of joints. For no frills, Itto is my second favorite place. Definitely a place I tell ppl about. Great neighborhood joint. I prefer the non fusion-y joints as well, and Itto fits that bill just fine for me.

                  1. re: gordeaux

                    Not fair to keep us guessing.

                    If Itto is your second-favorite place (and it has been serving decent sushi for many years), what is your favorite? Did I miss it?

                    For the record, my favorite oloder neighborhood place for basic suxhi is Sai on Armitage, but I am especially fond of both Coast on Damen and Hatchi's Kitchen on California.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      didn't mean to withhold info, just answering the post with my opinion. Anyway, for basic no frills, I have been very happy over the years with Matsuya on Clark. I have not been in quite a while, however, since I've been doing Bob San a lot (even though it's a little more "with frills," it is very solid for the standards.) I recently heard a negative report on Matsuya, but after so many stellar meals at the place I have to assume it was an off night. I'm more a fan of Itto and Matsuya than I am a fan of Kamehachi and Sai which are both other big name no frills kinda joints. Just opinion.

                      1. re: gordeaux

                        I stopped going to Matsuya many years ago for reasons I cannot post, although I always loved their menu with the woman standing in the surf holding a big fish. Do they still use that?

                        1. re: chicgail

                          LOL - I haven't looked at a menu there since like 1990. I actually had a crazy* experience there, but It made it more endearing to me.

                          *By crazy, I mean, probably 99.999% of people who had the same experience I did would NEVER return. And I mean NEVER.

                          1. re: gordeaux

                            Wouldn't it be funny if we had dinner there together that night.

                            1. re: chicgail

                              Well, I saw something REALLY odd at the sushi bar. I didn't point it out, but I kinda looked at the sushi chef in such a way, that he immediately knew what I saw, and was looking at, and he removed the *ahem* "item" that I saw VERY quickly. He then proceeded to prepare me several pieces of nigiri free of charge with a cheshire cat grin.

                              1. re: gordeaux

                                My incident was an unexpected (ahem) protein in the bowl of rice brought to the table. It was removed (the bowl of rice) and replaced with a fresh (we hoped) bowl.

                                Like I said, I prefer Itto or Sai these day -- but I do wish I had taken home one of those menus.

                                1. re: chicgail

                                  Well, I don't know about everyone else, but I'm a little curious!

                2. All wonderful, Mirai is amazing, Sai Cafe is great... But no love for the omakase service at Tanoshii? If you're looking for BYO, no pressure, fun rolls, Tanoshii in Andersonville is pretty great.

                  5547 N Clark St
                  (773) 878-6886