Inside Sake Tumi's main dining room and private banquet areas, guests sample everything from colorful sashimi to peppered tenderloin. During dinner, the menu is home to a variety of Japanese classics such as sushi rolls, as well as Korean barbecue dishes including beef bulgogi. Midday visitors can order up traditional bento boxes during lunch, which neatly pack soup, salad, and sides alongside various entrees.
The bench-style seating at Yeowoosai—which translates to “Let’s talk about love at this place”—encourages bar-goers to snuggle up to share drinks and plates of Korean fare calibrated to feed two to four people. Since 1996, owner Stella has crafted each batch of the yellow sauce that accompanies the house favorite, popcorn chicken, from a recipe she keeps under lock and key. Other popular dishes include classic galbi (marinated beef ribs) and bibimbap (mixed rice and vegetables). Guests can sip one of eight hand-crafted original cocktails and after 10 p.m. K-pop videos pump from eight flat-screen televisions, lending the red room an upbeat air.
At Solga Restaurant, guests finish barbecuing their short ribs, pork belly, and brisket in tableside charcoal pots, as chronicled in a feature by the Chicago Reader. But chefs do their fair share, too. They sear Atlantic king salmon and octopus atop the kitchen's grills and they heap steamed white rice into warm stoneware bowls before topping it with vegetables and dollops of red-chili paste. For noodle dishes, the chefs stir handmade wheat flour noodles into steaming or refreshingly cool broths.
Outside, the street bustles with people, but inside Tanpopo, a calmness floods the senses. The serene restaurant glows with softly lit paper lanterns, which illuminate wooden room dividers and matching tables, Japanese wall tapestries, and plates groaning under colorful sushi rolls. These vie for taste bud's affections with other Japanese dishes and Korean eats, such as koroke deep-fried potato balls with corn and beef morsels, skewered shrimp, and housemade curries.
Mio Bento’s storefront windows stretch from floor to ceiling, treating passersby to an unobstructed view of the Japanese restaurant’s casual yet elegant dining room. Lights affixed to a lofted ceiling shine on scarlet walls and plated arrangements of seaweed-wrapped sushi and creamy wasabi. As eyes take in the refined surroundings, chopsticks spar for fried shrimp tempura, udon noodles, and specialty sushi hand rolled by chefs. Green tea and vanilla ice cream stand out on the dessert menu, which also features traditional Japanese mochi and ocean-fresh swedish fish.