Chefs at Izakaya 88 specialize in Japanese-style tapas, which they create alongside eclectic international dishes such as soft shell crab BLTs and fresh sashimi crowned with sizzling sesame oil. Seated next to tall botanical sculptures or beneath a grid of organically-arranged lights, guests dig into plates of slow-roasted pork belly, sipping on mai tais or beers from the bar. On Friday and Saturday nights, visitors can lend an ear to fellow diners, who belt out karaoke classics beneath the glow of multi-colored lights and the distant gaze of glowering, music-hating deities.
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.
There are plenty of intimate tabletops and booths inside Murasaki Japanese & Thai Fusion, but the best seats in the house are arguably stationed in front of tableside hibachi grills. There, diners can marvel at expert chefs, who sizzle cuts of steak, salmon, and shrimp amid dancing flames and trees that have retired as chopsticks. As hibachi masters labor over the grills, sushi chefs create colorful pieces at the sushi station, slicing up fresh fish for sashimi and more than 20 types of specialty rolls—including the Sunshine roll, with tuna, scallion, and yellowtail, which was celebrated by the Rockford Register Star. The Asian fusion restaurant also whips up Thai and Japanese specialties, ranging from spicy pad thai noodles to simmering Japanese udon noodle soups.