Aodake Asian Bistro's chefs quickly whip up traditional and westernized Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese food. Guests order their meals at the front counter, and then head to a free table to wait for it. There, they can relax and watch TV or take advantage of Aodake's free WiFi while swirling yaki soba noodles, biting into oyster tempura sandwiches, or popping cooked- and raw-fish sushi rolls into their mouths. Aodake also has a variety of vegetarian rolls that feature the likes of avocado, sweet potato, and free-range seaweed.
The bistro opens early to ply guests with Taiwanese dan bings and Asian breakfast sandwiches. The dan bing is a savory crepe crammed with green onion, eggs, cheese, and sauce. The Asian breakfast sandwich features a fried egg, cheese, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and sweet mayo on toasted Asian milk bread.
At Agami, Executive Chef Kye is not just interested in the taste of food, but in the complete sensual experience of eating it. Those who order the garlic delight specialty sushi roll will feel the warmth of the Bacardi 151 flame it's served upon. Meanwhile, those biting into a salt sun flower roll will hear the crunch of sunflower seeds, and those admiring the wild fire roll will see a colorful combination of red snapper, guacamole, and mango pico de gallo. Sushi is certainly the restaurant's specialty, but it's not all that's served here?in addition to specialty maki, nigiri, and sashimi, there's also sushi-inspired entrees as well as a kitchen menu with dishes such as steamed dumplings and teriyaki chicken.
The attempt to create a wholly experiential dining experience doesn't stop with the food. The modern restaurant was designed with high ceilings, textured walls, and seaweed sculptures, all to create the feeling of being under the sea. Underwater scenes are projected on video screens, and a lucite bottle rack behind the bar resembles bubbling ocean waters. Concentric half-circles separate the traditional dining room, lounge area, and bar, the latter two of which are open until 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Tai Thongthomya⎯whose family runs Dib Sushi Bar and Thai Cuisine in nearby Uptown⎯has transformed a quiet corner on the edge of Ravenswood into a hip, lively pan-Asian eatery. Inside Fin Sushi Bar, a sleek wood counter offers a glimpse of sushi masters at work—slicing up delicate pieces of sashimi or peppering hand-rolled maki with inventive ingredients such as plantain, mango, and roasted duck. Further back is the kitchen, where the sizzle and tantalizing scents of Thai curries and fried rice dishes set mouths to water. A BYOB policy keeps evenings jovial and prevents glasses from seeming eternally half-empty.
A stroll past Sun Wah BBQ offers a glimpse of Hong Kong, where rows of golden-brown ducks glisten from hooks in the front window of this traditional Chinese barbecue spot. Step inside the spacious dining room and the dull thud of carving knives fills the air. Mike Cheng, part of the family legacy that runs Sun Wah, divvies up perfectly browned cuts of pork, duck, and chicken?all roasted in-house?and layers them onto platters to be shared at large, communal tables. The full-course Peking duck dinner is the crowd favorite and comes recommended by Chicago Tribune food critic Phil Vettel, who remarks that the duck?s ?lacquered skin [is] so glistening you can sense its crispy perfection from 3 feet away.? The off-menu dish often requires advance notice, as its popularity precedes it. Sun Wah is a family business through and through, started by Chinese émigré Eric Cheng and his wife Lynda in 1987. Their three children?Mike, Kelly, and Laura?now run the day-to-day operations at Sun Wah's new space, which is situated just around the corner from its original location. The revamped dining room has expanded and so has the menu, listing dozens of Cantonese specialties such as pork belly and whole fish alongside pan-fried noodles and congee, a popular porridge-like breakfast food.
Ora's intimate dining room contains only 28 seats, each one lit by the glow of contemporary candlelight fixtures. From these perches, diners peruse a menu dotted with more than 25 types of sushi, from tightly bundled nigiri to meticulously crafted rolls and other colorful combinations. Slabs of seared salmon belly recline beneath ginger, chives, and citrus soy, and chefs stuff specialty Albacore rolls with two types of tuna, soft shell crab, cucumber, and avocado. Hot dishes of ora udon and shrimp tempura also burst from the kitchen, paired with diners' brought-along bottles of wine, beer, or sake.
The chef at this neighborhood spot recommends eating his sushi creations without soy sauce, a sign that Ora’s seafood is of the highest quality. For the freshest (and often the most adventurous) fare, opt for the chef's choice sushi platter, which might include the Scottish salmon belly sashimi.