Eclectic ingredients, including eel and mint leaf, fill more than 30 maki rolls and helped earn Wildfish a spot on Gayot's list of the 10 best Chicago sushi restaurants in 2012. One roll pairs spicy salmon, fried tuna, and pico de gallo, and another mixes spicy mayo and sweet soy sauce with Alaskan king crab and a splash of Bacardi 151. Filet mignon and lobster sizzle in the tropical-hued dining room with walls of red, green, and gold and bamboo that sways against the ceiling. Glasses of imported Japanese beer and sake clink together in high-backed booths that offer privacy during dates and meals out with a parrot that only knows how to say your medical records.
Naomi Sushi’s chefs assemble artful plates of sushi and sashimi, adorning dishes with neon flashes of roe and colorful sauces and filling bento boxes with fresh fish and tempura. Bamboo stalks sprout from large urns beneath low lights, surrounding booths beneath oversize canopies. Lime-green walls frame black-and-white paintings, and a bubbling fountain stands nearby, granting wishes to any passersby who throw in pairs of unused chopsticks.
Sleek decor and bold colors fill Sushi-Ai's dining room to complement the elegant plates of sushi rolls and Japanese-influenced entrees. A white banquette lines one wall and modern chairs snuggle up to black tables illuminated by candlelight. Against a red-tiled backdrop, sushi chefs slice up nigiri and arrange their signature maki rolls, which can be cloaked in black rice upon request. The Green Turtle roll comes topped with shrimp and wasabi tobiko to hide its core of freshwater eel and avocado, and the salmon Obsession is filled with cucumber and crabmeat that move in with lightly battered spicy salmon, gradually copying the salmon's personality quirks and mannerisms.
At Sushiyaki, chefs roll up creative cuts of sushi, glaze meats with teriyaki, and whip up noodle entrees complemented by Japanese beers, wines, and teas. Red walls, eclectic decorations, and tunes from guest DJs fill the traditional dining area, and Japanese-style private rooms feature low tables and floor cushions. Bento boxes and sushi buffets let visitors plan their own taste-bud excursions, during which the smooth, black sushi bar becomes an airport check-in desk inexplicably staffed by fish-slicing chefs.
Chefs at Kampai Japanese Steak House man their hibachis with skill, flipping and twirling their gleaming utensils as they carefully cook meats such as filet mignon, lobster tail, and shrimp. As customers' meals sizzle before their eyes, chefs keep them entertained by telling jokes and anecdotes about their first job as a baton twirler. The floating sushi bar is no less inventive. Wooden boats stocked with fresh pieces of sushi and tiny shuffleboard teams float in an open tank from which diners can pluck their choice of morsels (the sushi menu also offers made-to-order options). Although the food preparation is entertaining, it does not upstage the taste. Kampai's head chef, Suki, has traveled extensively to search out quality ingredients for his sauces, in which he strives to blend Eastern cuisine with worldwide flavors.
Chefs imbue Zakuro Thai Sushi Cuisine's intimate dining room with the aromas of traditional Thai noodle dishes, fried rice, and seven types of curry. For dinner, they craft specialties such as deep-fried soft-shell crab with basil sauce, served with vegetables and a choice of white, brown, or fried rice. At the sushi counter, chefs hand-roll maki including the Hollywood, layering spicy tuna and shrimp tempura inside kelp or soybean paper and topping the bundle with fried onions and seared Cajun albacore. The softly lit restaurant boasts wood floors, Asian figurines, and tall, twig-like accents that are lit from beneath, casting spindly shapes on the walls like two saplings making shadow puppets.