At Hokkaido Sushi Hibachi Steak House and Lounge—named after Japan's second-largest and northernmost main island, Hokkaido—highly trained chefs entertain both family gatherings and intimate dates at the hibachi table and prepare fresh sushi with salmon, tuna, squid, scallop, sea bass, and other cuts of seafood. The in-ground fish tank that circles the entire bar illuminates platefuls of teppanyaki filet mignon and crispy shrimp tempura. Nearby in the LED-laden Vegas-inspired eatery, a team of sushi chefs rolls slices of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, and asparagus inside a sheet of seaweed in the signature Crazy maki roll. Additional maki ingredients include unagi, cream cheese, jalapenos, and tempura soft shell crab.
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 décor. 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 20 seats rest courtside as master chefs prepare soft shell crab, homemade dumplings, and crispy rangoons. They also churn out 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.
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.
Wok 'n Fire?named Best Asian Restaurant by West Suburban Living?tantalizes taste buds with a menu bursting with flavors from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. In their specialties, chefs sear seafood, steak, and chicken with complex flavors in the wok. They craft sashimi and specialty maki rolls, as well as twirling together noodle dishes that range from japanese udon to thai curry noodles and the cantonese noodles used in ancient tugs of war between provinces. Ginger ale and flavored lemonades, both crafted in-house, hydrate throats between bites.
Decor varies across the Asian bistro's locations throughout the western suburbs, but all share dramatic lighting, sleek hardwood floors, and smooth wooden seating that all obey one gravitational constant. Sophisticated accents pervade each location, such as dangling lights that recall bells, sinuous golden dragons undulating across a wall, and partitions that mimic an abacus or twined branches.
Inside Dao Hibachi Restaurant, eyes drink up sumptuous interior design and ornately arranged sushi as taste buds sample Thai spices and meats seared on a hibachi. Patrons let their chopsticks breathe on the outdoor patio, sip specialty cocktails under boxy lanterns, or sit on floor cushions beneath lines of Japanese text on khaki-colored walls. Noodles and vegetable slivers trail from appetizers served in martini glasses, like the protein drinks James Bond downs before chasing down Goldfinger's private airplane on foot.
“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.