Torched Salmon maki at Jellyfish (Lenny Gilmore/RedEye )
Tired of the California roll at your go-to takeout joint and bored with the nigiri your neighborhood BYOB? These sushi spots, all new additions to the dining scene within the last six months, will shake up your routine. Whether you’re looking to go all out for a flashy birthday dinner or just sidle up to the sushi bar for a quick meal, these four restaurants offer something for every taste.
990 N. Mies Van Der Rohe Way 312-280-9100
Good for: A special occasion dinner. This elegant sushi parlor inside the Gold Coast’s Hilton hotel may be small in size, but the multi-course meals are marvelous in their scale and scope. Cushy banquettes, elegant floral-patterned plates and eye-candy presentations will reward those looking to splurge.
On the menu: Instead of mixing and matching your own sashimi and maki a la carte, choose from three ($98), five ($134) or seven ($178) courses. Single courses are often made up of multiple dishes, so even the three-course dinner has myriad tastes to offer. Dishes might include crab beer-battered with Japanese brew Sapporo, oysters served both raw and fried, kelp noodle salad wrapped with paper-thin slices of cucumbers or ponzu-dressed head-on shrimp with octopus and crab.
1009 N. Rush St. 312-660-3111
Good for: Scene-loving sushi fans. How many restaurants save room on the menu to credit the music curator (DJ Jesse de la Pena) alongside the chef (Harold Jurado of Chizakaya) and sushi chef (Andy Galsan of Sushi Samba Rio)? A stunning greenhouse-style dining area, ocean-blue lighting overhead and drinks garnished with orchid blooms and slices of starfruit add up to a sophisticated setting for dinner or late-night nibbles. (The kitchen’s open until 1:30 a.m.)
On the menu: Signature maki ($11-$18) range from creative raw options such as the Black Diamond (two-bite circles of tempura shrimp, Alaskan crab and black caviar) to cooked rolls such as the Torched Salmon (warmed with a blowtorch before it arrives at your table) and the Spicy Tuna Tempura, a deep-fried roll with avocado and cheese. The rest of the menu is filled with Pan-Asian dishes ranging from barbecue pork skewers with papaya and kimchi ($8) to a splurge-worthy wagyu ribeye with uni-sriracha hollandaise sauce ($65).
2557 1/2 Chicago Ave. 773-278-5776
Good for: Solo sushi bar noshing. This Humboldt Park restaurant’s quaint booths for two and tables for four by the front window are nice, but seats at the sushi bar have the best view of the fish-slicing, teppanyaki-grilling action. Since this BYOB restaurant is so small, reservations are recommended, even if you’re flying solo.
On the menu: Start with grilled skewers of bacon-wrapped enoki mushroom ($3) and move on to signature sushi such as the Green Monster Roll (avocado-wrapped shrimp tempura, $12) or the Orange Rush ($8), salmon-wrapped scallop with a spicy glaze. A handful of delectable daily specials are also offered, so listen up when your server gives the run down.
1613 N. Damen Ave. 773-878-8998
Good for: Adventurous groups. If you have a penchant for DIY and an appreciation for mystery, put this once-nameless Bucktown eatery on your to-do list. After opening in late August, restaurant staff encouraged diners to suggest ideas for its name through a contest on its web site (eatiscoming.com). The winning name was Enso,
On the menu: If you’re bored with seeing the same old rolls around town, go for the make-your-own maki option ($8 and up). You choose your own fish, sauce and wrap (seaweed paper, soy paper or cucumber skin) and the sushi chefs will combine them to make a one-of-a-kind creation. Snacks such as tempura-fried cherry tomatoes with gouda-blue cheese dipping sauce ($6) break the mold when it comes to cooked dishes. As for drinks, the restaurant was BYOB in its first weeks after opening, but recently received its liquor license and is stocking up on Japanese beer and sake.
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