Sushi did not become popular until it arrived in the West, where its rolled-up nature influenced the invention of the sleeping bag as well as the filling of other people’s sleeping bags with fish. Celebrate this foreign treat with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of sushi and Japanese cuisine at Sushi Badaya in Highland Park.
Sushi Badaya's deft chefs roll up a menu of familiar favorites and tasty originals. Crabmeat and boiled shrimp shelter beneath a blanket of eel and creamy unagi sauce in the crunchy-shelled Turtle roll ($14.15), and Josh G's house-special roll acidizes shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, and radishes with vinegar sauce ($12.15). The kitchen also whips up non-sushi eats such as the Firecracker appetizer, a fried shrimp stuffed with the same sweet chili sauce used to power Fourth of July displays ($6.95), as well as chicken ($16.95) and salmon teriyaki ($17.95). Diners pair these seductive eats with libations from a full bar surrounded by recessed lighting and offset by an aquatically themed Japanese mural.
Upon a marbled wall, a Japanese triptych mural tells the story of a gargantuan fish licked by cerulean waves and a tiny boat tossed about in its wake. Even though this vibrant piece reflects a chaotic scene, the sushi bar where the owner and head chef crafts creative rolls and maki is anything but—he’s a seasoned artist with more than 15 years' experience slicing, dicing, and coiling. He carefully furls Alaskan king crab, shrimp tempura, and sweet chili sauce and creates tantalizing nigiri and sashimi with freshly carved squid and freshwater eel. Bartenders, meanwhile, pour wines and sakes to complement the chef's mouthwatering Japanese cuisine.
Sunlight pours through ground-to-ceiling windows, streaming across hardwood floors and dark wooden tables that friendly servers speckle with dishes of aromatic steak teriyaki and tempura udon soup. Diners can enjoy these exotic feasts amid the contemporary yet casual dining room’s traditional folding screens and bamboo accents or, when the extraterrestrial overlords who control the weather permit it, outside on the patio.
600 Central Ave.
Highland Park, Illinois 60035