Proud, family owned, Maki Sushi & Noodle Shop earned city-worthy praise in both the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune for the elegant simplicity that characterizes both its menu and d?cor. Set in the historic Pickwick Theater building, Japanese letters run down the floor-to-ceiling murals that color the bright eatery?s mint-green walls, flanking a sushi bar centerpiece where more than 30 seats rest courtside as master chefs prepare fresh sashimi and dozens of signature maki rolls including Crazy Crunch filled with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and tempura crunch topped with wasabi mayo and unagi sauce. The clean lines of the eatery?s exposed brick pillars and polished wood-grain floors spill over into lunchtime bento boxes, which compartmentalize protein such as crabmeat fried rice or chicken katsu. Delicate flutes of martini glasses filled with fruit-infused takes on the classic cocktail. Equipped with a glass-enclosed wine cellar, Maki Sushi?s lower level lounge plays host to private get-togethers, corporate happy hours, and very short games of hide-and-seek.
At Hana Asian Bistro, cooks artistically prepare and arrange entrees of authentic Asian cuisine, pulling from a pantry filled with quality meats, fresh seafood, and market-purchased produce. The chic eatery—tucked inside the Skokie Fashion Square shopping center—jazzes up sushi rolls with unique pairings, such as lobster and mango, and spicy sauces, such as kung pao sauce or japanese curry. Chefs also prepare a lineup of specialties including walnut shrimp and seafood noodle soup. To complement these expertly crafted meals, diners can order a side of fried rice or a fruit-infused bubble tea.
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.
Diners entering Yue-Sun Restaurant are greeted with a feast for the senses. At any given moment, chefs are flipping steak and shrimp over blazing hibachi flames to the delight of parents and children, who nibble on miniature bites of teriyaki steak. In another part of the room, a conveyer-belt train of fresh sushi rolls by in a delicious, colorful parade of avocado, salmon, and wasabi. The atmosphere is family friendly, but also caters to intimate dates, with lobster dinners, couple's meals, and chopsticks that can only be operated by two people.
“Japonais is a culinary experience that blends immense enjoyment with sturdy savoir faire,” declared former Chicago Sun-Times food critic Pat Bruno, writing of the sleek Asian eatery near the edge of the Chicago River. While one coexecutive chef, Jun Ichikawa, lends his expertise to the sushi side of the restaurant’s menu, the other, Gene Kato, designs its selection of hot plates. Together, they churn out traditional and modern dishes—such as the house-specialty Kobe prime rib and Le Quack Japonais, a house-smoked duck slathered in hoisin sauce and mango chutney—whose appeal led Condé Nast to name their establishment one of the top 66 restaurants in the world. Ingredients from both surf and turf star at the sushi bar, which serves options such as spicy king-crab nigiri and a Crazy Veggie roll that insists on wearing its lab coat and goggles at all times. As selections emerge from the kitchen, says Bruno, “the presentations … are elegant … the shapes and swoops of the plates are a feast for the eyes.” The two dining rooms at Japonais meld industrial Japanese design with a touch of European richness. Squares of gold velvet frame an oversize mirror that hangs over the Red Room, the restaurant’s more formal dining space. Across the hall, the Green Room’s slate-and-brick fireplace and whimsical tree centerpieces that occasionally don sweatpants add to its more relaxed atmosphere. Wavy ceiling panels and Lucite chandeliers accentuate the high ceilings that unite the two spaces, hanging over a staircase that leads downstairs to the riverwalk café. There, sheer drapery panels frame views of the Chicago River for those seated on pillow-laden couches and chairs. As they lounge, guests can sip specialty cocktails or enlist the top-shelf liquors to help them win gargling contests against the river.
With a star-studded r?sum? that includes stints in such media-acclaimed restaurants as Yoshi's, Ambria, and Tribute?a Detroit-based eatery of his own that earned him a James Beard Award?it shouldn't be surprising that Takashi Yagihashi's latest culinary venture was a success. At his eponymous establishment, the chef crafts gourmet dishes inspired by his French culinary training and accented with the traditional flavors of his native Japan, creating a menu that has earned the restaurant a Michelin star and that Chicago magazine called "the finest Asian fusion cuisine in the city." Beyond acclaimed culinary skills, Yagihashi's vivacious personality earned him the title of Top Chef Masters Fan Favorite.
In a spartan dining room adorned with subtle art and slate-colored brick, diners savor entrees such as chicken in a clay pot simmering with shimeji mushrooms, eggplant, and yuzu juice, or soy-ginger caramel pork belly served with steamed buns. Yagihashi also highlights his versatility in a number of prix-fixe menus, such as the weekly 7- or 11-course Kaiseki dinner and a tasting menu that pairs each morsel with a complementary wine. While mulling over the menu, savvy wait staff offer their recommendations for the best wine, beer, or sake from the restaurant's lengthy drink lists, along with sweet post-meal choices such as Yagihashi's signature brown-egg dessert, which Chicago magazine says "elevates cr?me br?l?e to Zen-like perfection."