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Where to Eat Sushi in Chicago

Where to Eat Sushi in Chicago


There’s something about sushi that just exudes elegance. Even when you’re popping the plastic lid off the Whole Foods boxed set, you can’t help but feel like your lunch just got more refined. Spend a little more at some of the top sushi places in town, and the raw cuisine is taken to a whole new level. If you need a break from heavier dishes and are craving something fresh, try out some of these sushi spots around Chicago.

Arami – This Ukrainian Village gem hides behind an unassuming façade. Inside, however, the food is anything but dull. The zen-like atmosphere brings the fish into focus. Special dishes like the uni shooter make the most of the incredible flavors and textures their seafood has to offer.

Juno – This refined restaurant opened in Lincoln Park only three months ago, but it has already made an impression. The sushi is curated by B.K. Park, formerly of Arami. Artful presentation combines with surprising touches to make Juno’s sushi an experience on its own. The smoked sashimi offers a particularly interesting take on the traditional.

Masaki – Subtly hidden around the John Hancock building, Masaki brings the essence of fine Japanese dining to the Gold Coast. Masaki focuses on omakase-style tasting menus. Each dish aims to stimulate the eyes as much as the tongue, embracing the all-encompassing Japanese aesthetic.

Kai Zan – A favorite in the Humboldt Park area, Kai Zan really delivers a personal experience. Customers can share their preferences at the beginning of the meal and enjoy a personalized sushi meal. The menu features intriguing and flavorful combinations, such as the Orange Rush with salmon, scallop, and a citrus glaze.

Coast Sushi – Coast is a more accessible option than some of the above, but no less exciting when it comes to the goods. Signature maki rolls include the Sunrise, with ginger seared tuna, mint and mango, and the Smoking Pumpkin, featuring tempura pumpkin topped with salmon and mayo. It’s very vegetarian friendly as well, making it a crowd favorite.


Sushi To-Go: Master Chef Kaze Chan develops TOGO-makase during pandemic

CHICAGO -- Sushi-san is one of Chicagos premiere Japanese restaurants and home to the citys most esteemed master sushi chef, Kaze Chan.

"Were thankful every day that we get to work with Master Chef Kaze-san," said Sushi-san partner Amarit Dulyapaibul. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a sushi restaurant in Chicago or a sushi chef in Chicago that hasn't been in some way informed or trained directly by Kaze."

Unlike the traditional Edomae-sushi, fish and soy sauce, Chan has developed a sushi menu with unexpected and adventurous flavors.

"To make one topping for a fish, I have to eat that fish for one month just plain," Chan said.

Embedded in downtown Chicago in the River North neighborhood, Sushi-san built much of their business from daily lunch and dinner crowds for downtown office workers. The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated that customer base, the restaurant had to pivot over the past year.

Before indoor dining came back, Sushi-san started selling TOGO-makase as a new version of their Omakase, meaning chef's choice.

"The thing Im proudest of is the way our team was agile and able to pivot during this past year," Dulyapaibul said.

Sushi-san has reopened for indoor dining, but plans to continue offering TOGO-makase into the future.


Best sushi in Chicago

1. Kai Zan

Although you can order a la carte, the affordable omakase menu at Melvin and Carlo Vizconde's restaurant is the way to go, and includes more food than you can eat&mdashrich oyster and uni shooters doctored up with ponzu sauce and egg yolks disappear in seconds, seared tuna maki adorned with truffled scallions and takoyaki, a fried dough ball with a nugget of octopus inside. While these are all fun, utterly delicious takes on Japanese food, the decadence stops short of overwhelming the great fish in the maki and sashimi. Tuna and salmon are packed into a balanced roll with jalapeño, avocado, cilantro, masago, chili and lime, and the omakase ends with a generous plate of sashimi.

2. Kyōten

One of Chicago's most extensive (and expensive) omakase experiences can be found at Kyōten in Bucktown, where chef Otto Phan offers upwards of 20 courses at his eight-seat sushi counter. There are just two seatings per night (6 and 8:45pm), so you'll have to book in advance if you want to nosh on oceanic treats like kanpachi, uni, ebi and maguro. Priced at $220, the menu changes depending on what's available, and guests can toss in an optional sake tasting for $75 if they choose.

3. Juno

Want the best sushi deal in town? It's at Juno, where sushi chef BK Park is doing God's work when it comes to raw fish. The chef&rsquos choice sashimi, perfectly sliced, spread over ice and adorned with shells and orchids, is $42 for 18 pieces of fish (two each of nine different kinds). This is a steal, and while it's enough for a solo diner, there are more great things to eat, like the smoked hamachi, which arrives under a glass dome with two spoons cradling lightly smoked pieces of fish. The Juno King consists of two single bites of tuna wrapped around rice and topped with spicy crab&mdashthey're delicious. Even the spicy tuna roll is elevated, with a thick piece of tuna and scallions, and a trace of sriracha and chili oil.

4. Arami

This warm, cozy restaurant seems to encourage you to stay for hours, sipping sake or cocktails like the matcha sour, crafted with gin, lemon, matcha green tea and egg white . Start with the chef's choice sashimi, which includes 14 slices of neatly sliced seafood, including a meaty piece of octopus and salmon that nearly melts in your mouth. The special nigiri section includes treats like rice wrapped with crab and festooned with spicy Alaskan king crab. But sushi at Arami doesn't just benefit seafood lovers&mdashyasai (vegetables) are available as maki or nigiri and include a slice of tender eggplant squiggled with peanut&ndashwhite miso dressing.

5. Naoki Sushi

When you're craving something refined, Naoki Sushi is the place to go. The warmly lit speakeasy-style spot is helmed by chef Naoki Nakashima, who also runs the sushi program at Shaw&rsquos. On the menu, you'll find classic selections like yellowtail, scallop, salmon and sea urchin alongside specialty rolls like hamachi with scallion, cucumber and yuzu. But the star of the menu is a selection of Naoki-style sashimi plates: Slabs of pristine raw fish are served in flower formations and adorned with tasty, simplistic ingredients like ponzu, black truffle and yuzu.

6. Mako

Celebrated sushi chef B.K. Park serves an extensive omakase menu at this small West Loop restaurant, which fetches $175 a head for up to 25 courses. The menu, which is sprinkled with pieces of sashimi and nigiri, fluctuates with the seasons and includes indulgent morsels like king crab with uni miso, A5 wagyu butter and potato chip. The sushi counter boasts just 12 seats (there are an additional 10 seats behind it in the dining room), and each seating is limited to two hours. No need to rush: The chefs are trained to keep things moving at a comfortable pace.

7. Sushi-san

You're in good hands with sushi star Kaze Chan (Kaze, Momotaro), who's crafted a menu of hits using super-fresh ingredients and wildly simple techniques. For a full understanding of Chan's skills, splurge on a San-Set, consisting of portioned collections of nigiri, sashimi and rolls that are designed to share. For a totally different experience, grab a seat at the hand roll bar, where fresh pockets of crispy seaweed, warm rice and pristine fish are served directly to you from the chefs behind the counter. Chan argues that this type of sushi should be gobbled up as soon as it&rsquos constructed even a 30-second delay in service could spoil the experience.

8. Momotaro

There are more than enough good things at Momotaro to have an entire meal without even glancing at the sushi menu, but that would be a mistake. Toss in individual nigiri or sashimi pieces or go all in on sushi rolls, like the zuke salmon with citrus soy, ginger, salmon skin and smoke ikura. There are several meatless options for the vegetarians at your table, including rolls stuffed with shiitake mushrooms and gourd.

9. Tanoshii Sushi Mike's

Look for the loyal following of Mike-heads: sushi foodies who&rsquove followed chef &ldquoSushi Mike&rdquo from Hama Matsu and San Soo Gab San to this sushi bar with locations in Andersonville and the West Loop. If you try the cooked items, you&rsquore likely not to go back. If you order your own sushi, you&rsquore likely to offer up a &ldquoSo what.&rdquo But if you make like the regulars and put yourself in Sushi Mike&rsquos hands (name your price, and he creates a combo), you might just become a believer.

10. Lawrence Fish Market

This take-out-only spot in Albany Park is an unexpected gem for sushi. First, it's insanely cheap&mdasha tray with 16 pieces of nigiri, a California roll and a spicy tuna roll is just $21, and most nigiri are $1 apiece, with six-count maki rolls starting at $2. These prices are cheaper than grocery store sushi, and while the maki may not be perfectly wrapped, it tastes worlds better&mdashflavors are clean, from a sweet snapper to supple salmon.

11. Omakase Yume

The omakase menu at this tiny West Loop restaurant changes daily based on chef Sangtae Park's whims and what's in season and available to him. But if you're willing to put your trust&mdashand $125&mdashin the knowledgeable sushi chef, you can indulge in a 17-course menu that's packed with appetizers, sushi and dessert. Reservations are available at 5:30 and 7:30pm, and only 16 guests are served each evening at the omakase counter.

12. Mr. Maki

Dishing out maki rolls and teishoku (Japanese set meals), this Streeterville restaurant from Lettuce Entertain You is an ideal lunch destination when sushi cravings hit. Though the rolls here are competitively priced (five for $7 or 10 for $12), the combo meals are where it's at. Each box includes a collection of rolls or sashimi, poke, edamame, miso soup and salad. To really get a feel for chef Kaze Chan's prowess with raw fish, order the Sushi Lover teishoku box with three pieces of sashimi, a rainbow roll, tuna avocado poke, roasted edamame, miso soup and house salad.

13. Katana

If you can get past the clubstaurant vibes that ooze out of this River North spot, you'll discover that the menu is rife with excellent choices. Start with an order of hanabi, or dollops of spicy tuna atop crispy rice, before selecting an assortment of rolls for the table. The baked crab hand roll is an absolute must, as is the super-fresh tsukiji with salmon, tuna and yellowtail wrapped in cucumber.

14. Tao Chicago

You've likely heard about Tao because of its 1,000-person capacity club, but the venue's posh restaurant is not to be overlooked. Snag a table in the dining room or saddle up at the sushi counter, where you can order sea-kissed treasures a la carte or through a decadent omakase menu, with pricing starting at $69 per person. Sashimi and nigiri pieces are cut with precision, while specialty rolls conceal spicy tuna, buttery salmon and creamy lobster salad.

15. Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill

This BYOB-friendly West Town sushi joint serves monstrous rolls with a side of art. Some of the Yuzu jumbo rolls are served on platters that are decorated with colorful sauces in Instagram-worthy patterns and shapes. Try the unholy Green Habor, which is packed with broccoli and sweet potato tempura, grilled asparagus and cucumber and then topped with avocado, spicy mayo and sweet soy sauce. Open wide!

16. Shaw’s Crab House

Shaw's is one of our go-to spots for oysters and lobster rolls, but the sushi menu is also worth exploring. Given how serious Shaw's is about seafood, it's not surprising that its takes on sushi are simple and well-executed. There are neatly rolled and balanced maki, including combinations like Alaskan King crab, avocado, cucumber and masago, while the slices of salmon, tuna and yellowtail sashimi are precisely cut.


Yelp Chicago

If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's the art of serving sushi on top of a naked woman. I'd like to host a private Nyotaimori party, so does anyone know where it is available in Chicago?

I'm really sorry, I can't help I'm afraid. However. would it be too rude to ask how I get an invite?

they were doing this at Kizoku, but it recently closed, which is too bad because their sushi was really good! I haven't heard of any place offering this, but if I do I'll let you know!

Monica, I think if you picked up some sushi from Strack and Van Til and just hired an escort, you'd probably come out cheaper. That's what I do.

**Correction: That's what **I'd** do.

I have no clue, but have you thought of offering a sushi chef like $100 for a couple hours to cut up fish for you?

When Kizoku offered it, you'd see girls walking out of there that looked liked hookers, who we could only presume were the women they used to serve the sushi on, so Natalie's suggestion is probably not so out there!

. or a self-editing censorship designed to disguise my licentious proclivities?

I heard about Kizoku closing, and somehow dealing with the prostitutes myself just doesn't seem as classy. I'll plan it somehow and extend invites in the future.
Anyways I'm disappointed about Kizoku and with all due respect, reading the reviews has confirmed my belief that a lot of Chicagoans must have a pole up the bum. After all, why would it be so shocking that you wouldn't know that they serve sushi on top of women, that they don't just do it in the middle of the foyer? It sounded like such a chic edgy place to be.
rant rant and end


Where to Eat Near the Willis Tower in Chicago

The Willis Tower is the tallest building in Chicago, and the only reason why I'm calling it the Willis Tower and not the Sears Tower is that I'll eventually get yelled at by someone for it. I hate getting yelled at. Too bad it happens all the time. But really, most Chicagoans still refer to it by the old name, as do tourists when they stop me in the street to ask for directions (hint: look up). So whatever, it's still the Sears Tower to me, and that's that!

While the world knows it as the second tallest building in North America, Mayor Rahm Emanuel still insists it's the tallest, which is pretty funny coming from a small guy. And by small, I mean he's one inch taller than me.

Thanks to the Skydeck, the observation deck located on the 103rd floor of the building, it's one of the most popular attractions in town. I worked in the Loop for about seven years, just a few blocks away from the Sears Tower (or Willis, if you insist), and after exploring as many unique lunch options as I could, I've curated a trustworthy list for you in case you're in the neighborhood looking for something to eat.

In the Willis Tower

For all of the restaurants that are actually in the Willis Tower enter through the east side of the building, not the south side where the Skydeck entrance is located.

Walk down the right side until you see the escalators, and go up one floor. If you're unsure of where to go, just follow all the hungry looking people.

Market Creations

Market Creations is a buffet lunch spot with a ton of choices, including a great fresh salad bar with different items that rotate daily. It's my favorite salad bar in the Loop because of all the choices and the quality of the fruits and vegetables. If salad isn't your thing, there's a giant island in the middle with a mix between American comfort food and Asian-American food. There's also a stir-fry counter, where you can request a custom stir-fry order, and a sushi section. Just keep in mind that you have to pay by weight, so things can get expensive pretty quick if you're hungry and on a budget. Read more here >>

Market Creations

Willis Tower, 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

French Accent

French Accent is owned by the same people who own Market Creations, and it has a decidedly European feel to it. It also features a mix between counter service and self-service, with carving stations, a buffet island, and a sandwich station. But one of the big differences? There's a bar. Plus, they're open for dinner. Read more here >>

French Accent

Willis Tower, 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Salseria

Salseria is your choice for Americanized Mexican food. It has the usual suspects, like tacos and burritos, but it also has a fair amount of grilled platters as well. Salseria also has a bar, which seems to be the main draw, because you'll see a lot of office folks chilling during happy hour with a Margarita in hand. Read more here >>

Willis Tower, 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Venice Cafe

Venice Cafe is the only restaurant on this list that isn't on the second floor—in fact, it's on the lower level. To get there, enter on the East side of the building and take the escalator down behind the front desk, one level. Take two lefts and you're there. Venice Cafe makes a ton of heavy pasta dishes, as well as sandwiches and pizza. Your best bets are the daily specials, as well as the calzones, which are my favorite item there. The pizza station is actually separate from the regular line, so take your pick and mosey into the line. Read more here >>

Venice Cafe

233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Near the Willis Tower

As you'd imagine, there are tons of restaurant options nearby, though most aren't worth your time. But there are a few genuinely worth checking out.

Kamehachi

For quick take-out sushi and rice bowls, Kamehachi is a good pick, if not one of very few. It's located in 311 S. Wacker, the beautiful building just to the south of the Willis Tower. Their fish is fresh and light, with classic nigiri and maki rolls that don't fool around too much. If raw fish isn't your thing, that's cool. They have Japanese style curry rice bowls that are delicious, rich, and filling. While there aren't any seats in the actual restaurant, there are lots of them in the gorgeous inner courtyard, so take your pick. If it's nice out, sit on the lawn with everyone else and do some people watching. Read more here >>

311 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Protein Bar

For you health nuts, Protein Bar is a good option. It serves a wide array of wraps, salads, bowls, and smoothies—almost all centered around quinoa in some form or fashion. It is always packed at lunch time, but the line moves quickly. It is a little bit more on the expensive side for smaller portions, but you are paying for healthy food, after all. Read more here >>

Protein Bar

235 S Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60606

Giordano's

What's a trip to the Willis Tower Skydeck without a little bit of stuffed pizza? Giordano's, a local pizza chain known for its stuffed pizza, is definitely worth a try if you've never had it before. If you feel guilty about devouring such a huge mound of cheese, by all means, enjoy the thin crust, but what you really want is the big stuffed pizzas (a variant on deep dish). The crust is thick, bready, and rich, and each piece is packed with an insane amount of cheese. I'm fond of it, but based off the pizza cognition theory, since Giordano's was my first experience with stuffed pizza, I'm biased. Read more here >>

223 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60606

Avanti Caffe

If you're looking for more modest portions, but still want Italian-style food, just skip across the street to Avanti Caffe, where you can get satisfying Italian and American sub sandwiches, as well as big servings of pizza, salad, antipasti, and more. Almost everything is worth ordering, plus, the service is quick if you're in a hurry. Read more here >>

Avanti Caffe

200 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60606

Luke's Italian Beef

There just aren't many hot dog/Italian beef stands in the loop, but Luke's is located a convenient block away from the Willis Tower. They serve a mix between hot dogs, Italian beef, pizza, and pasta, but stick to the dogs and the Italian beef, which is a good representation of the sandwich. If you're from out of town and you want to look like a pro, just ask for the Italian beef to be dipped. And if you're into spicy food, ask for hot peppers with it too. If you're hungry, then ask for the combo, which also has an Italian sausage thrown in there for good measure. Just be forewarned that the dipped sandwiches are messy. I've been known to secretly use a fork if I'm dressed nicely. Read more here >>

Luke's Italian Beef

215 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60606

Bánh Mì & Co.

Bánh Mì & Co. is a relative newcomer to the Loop lunch scene, but it's definitely a welcome one. The Loop has been a bánh mì desert for years, but now new restaurants are slowly trickling in with the delicious Vietnamese sandwiches. I recommend the barbecue pork bánh mì, which is nice and piggy, but there's plenty of other options, including vegetarian and vegan items. Read more here >>

Banh Mi & Co

214 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60606

BenjYehuda

There's a lot of falafel and shawarma places in the Loop now, but one of them stands out, and it's BenjYehuda. The menu is deceptively simple looking, like Chipotle's, but the permutations are just as vast, if not more so. You can choose between a pita, a laffa (a flatbread wrap), or a box (either salad or rice), and fill it with falafel, chicken shawarma, or steak shawarma. Then, you can choose from the multitude of toppings, from various salads, to sauces, to pickles. But you can't miss the fries—crispy, slightly greasy, and pillowy, they're some of the best in the city. But don't forget the side of Merkts cheddar. Read more here >>

212 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60607

Chicken Planet

Chicken Planet is a Loop favorite for many people. It's cheap, filling, and it's whole grilled chicken right off the bone. It's always packed at lunch, but service is quick. Frankly, none of the sides are any good, but grab a few of those grilled pitas and you're good to go. If you're on a budget, you can make your dollar stretch a little further here. Read more here >>

Chicken Planet

177 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60605

Skrine Chops

Have you ever craved food off the backyard barbecue for lunch? Like charred burgers, ribs, and pork chops? Skrine Chops has all of those things, but they're most known for their pork chop sandwiches, which are slathered with a pile of rich, smooth, mashed potatoes. That might sound strange at first, but after your first bite, you'll be a convert. There's not much counter space to sit at, but there's a courtyard right across the street for you to enjoy your food with a bit of sun on a nice day. Read more here >>

Skrine Chops

400 S Financial Pl, Chicago, IL 60605

Saucy Porka

Saucy Porka is a really fun place that serves up creative Asian-Latin fusion food that works well together. You can't go wrong with almost all of the menu here, but I do recommend that you at least try some of the "bacos," which are puffy steamed buns with your choice of filling. They're a lot of fun. Read more here >>

Saucy Porka

400 S Financial Pl, Chicago, IL 60605

Wow Bao

Steamed dumplings make a pretty good meal, and a quick one, at that. Wow Bao serves up palm-sized dumplings, bowls, noodles, and salad. You'll see that most people get the hot puffy dumplings that are filled with various meats and vegetables. My favorites are the barbecue pork and the thai curry chicken. This is the kind of meal you can carry with you, wherever you're headed. Read more here >>

175 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604

Cellars Market

If you want to feel like a lunch pro, waltz into the north lobby of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), head to the north entrance of the building, and take the stairs located to the right down one floor. Here, you'll find Cellars Market (get the name?), a cafeteria that serves everything from salad to hot plates to sandwiches. The food might not be the greatest thing, but if you've never been there, it's really fun. Read more here >>

Cellar's Market

141 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604

Poag Mahone's

Poag Mahone's is one of the local watering holes near the Willis Tower where you'll find a lot of people loosening their ties after work. With booze you need food, and Poag Mahone's specialty is a thick, pub-style burgers. My personal favorite is the Stockyards burger, which comes with grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, and thousand island dressing. If you're feeling saucy (or sauced), add some bacon to it and wash it down with beer. Read more here >>

Poag Mahone's

333 S Wells St, Chicago, IL 60604

Billy Goat III

While you might imagine the Billy Goat Tavern as the dark one under a bridge with a man shouting "Cheezborger, no fries, cheeps" loudly, there is also one on the corner of Wells and Van Buren. I'll be the first to admit that their burgers aren't necessarily perfection, there's just something about them that's supremely satisfying. Every now and then I find myself craving one badly. Personally, I dig the double cheeseburger since the patties are so thin, but it's up to you. And strangely enough, this outpost does serve fries, though the original proudly doesn't. Read more here >>


Friends Sushi

710 N Rush St., Chicago, IL
(312) 787-8998

If you’re looking for a trendy place in the city to enjoy sushi, Friends Sushi is a wonderful recommendation. This is also one of the best sushi restaurants in Chicago for a date night since the ambiance is the perfect spot to enjoy sushi will someone special. The spicy tuna roll with black sesame seeds is a popular choice and features savory flavors with a spicy kick. The sashimi platter with 12 pieces of fresh fish served with miso soup and sushi rice. You can also enjoy tasty tempura selections such as tuna tempura or vegetable tempura that includes Chinese pumpkin, green beans, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. Lunch specials include two or four pieces of sushi served with maki, and you can complete your meal with the soft drink of your choice.

Photo Credit: Adam Benge on Google


The 38 best restaurants in Chicago you have to try

May 2021:Chicago is on the road to a full reopening and the rapidly-warming weather is sending diners running to patios and rooftops throughout the city. While some restaurants are still waiting to reopen indoor seating, many have returned over the past few weeks. This month, we recommend finding a place where you can dine outside, whether you enjoy Mediterranean dishes at Fiya or eat a hot dog at the Duck Inn. It's also a great time to snag a reservation at Michelin-starred fine-dining spot Ever, check out the reopened Ken Kee Restaurant in Chinatown or order a platter of sushi from Lawrence Fish Market. Take a look at what's new or rediscover an old favorite when you order from the best restaurants in Chicago this month.

The best restaurants in Chicago come in all shapes and sizes, from pizza joints and Michelin-starred heavyweights to some of the best cheap eats Chicago has to offer. The cuisines are just as varied, with every corner of the globe represented through Korean, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean and Indian fare. Whether you're a lifelong resident or simply visiting for the weekend, stuffing your face at one of these restaurants is easily among the best things to do in Chicago. This belt-busting food scene shows no signs of slowing down, so we cut to the chase and ranked our essentials&mdashthe absolute best restaurants in Chicago. We call it the Time Out EAT List.

Our editors scour the city for great dishes, excellent value and insider info. They pay their way and sometimes, like the rest of us, their delivery driver gets lost. The EAT List is a unique, authentic snapshot of Chicago's ever-evolving dining experience right now: We update it constantly with the best new restaurants in Chicago as well as decades-old stalwarts that keep us coming back for more. It could be a mega-hyped destination restaurant or a remarkable food truck: If it&rsquos on the list, we think it&rsquos terrific, and we bet you will too.

If you've tried something you love on this list, share it under the hashtag #TimeOutEatList to show your appreciation. Plus, find out more about how we eat through Chicago to make the list.


Dining Out: Low Carb Sushi

Sashimi is sushi without the rice. As this isn’t the place to get all technical on the exact Japanese terms, I give you this link to Wikipedia’s page on Sushi. Sashimi is your best bet and don’t be fooled – you can get full fast on yummy fatty fish such as salmon and fatty tuna.

Straight up raw fish not your deal? Craving some big, fat rolls? No worries, there are low carb work arounds that almost all sushi joints will accomodate. Many sushi places call their non-rice rolls “skinny rolls”, so take a look and see if there is a “skinny roll” on the menu or if the server if they know what that is.

You can get rolls wrapped in cucumber or soy paper. I actually prefer the cucumber because it provides a bit of ‘crunch’, as the fillings tends to be pretty soft. Fillings will usually include crab, avocado, and fish (salmon/tuna/yellowtail/etc). Oftentimes, the crab is used as the ‘filler’, replacing the rice.

WARNING: Krab (fake crab) is VERY high carb, with a 1/2 cup having up to 12g of carbs. This is because sugar and other high carbohydrate binding agents are used in making this product. Always ask for real crab to be substituted in to your roll if the roll comes with krab. You may be charged an extra dollar or two, but it’s worth it to have the real thing, since real crab is zero carbs.

Also be careful about sweet sauces on the rolls, which contain a lot of sugar. Ask for no sauce or try a different roll

Other non sushi low carb items commonly found at sushi restaurants are:

  • Miso soup
  • Chicken/Beef teriyaki (without the sauce!)
  • Edamame
  • Yakitori
  • Salads (may have sashimi, seaweed, etc)

Reference list for sushi options:

  • Sashimi
  • Cucumber or soy paper rolls
  • Real crab instead of krab
  • No sweet sauces

Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications to existing rolls if nothing there meets exact criteria! If you are a regular and order it enough, you might end up with a roll named after you.

Ultimately, you can completely control exactly what you eat by making your own sushi! There are several sushi kits out there ignore their recommendations on rice and use shredded crab or riced cauliflower instead.


Sushi To-Go: Master Chef Kaze Chan develops TOGO-makase during pandemic

CHICAGO -- Sushi-san is one of Chicagos premiere Japanese restaurants and home to the citys most esteemed master sushi chef, Kaze Chan.

"Were thankful every day that we get to work with Master Chef Kaze-san," said Sushi-san partner Amarit Dulyapaibul. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a sushi restaurant in Chicago or a sushi chef in Chicago that hasn't been in some way informed or trained directly by Kaze."

Unlike the traditional Edomae-sushi, fish and soy sauce, Chan has developed a sushi menu with unexpected and adventurous flavors.

"To make one topping for a fish, I have to eat that fish for one month just plain," Chan said.

Embedded in downtown Chicago in the River North neighborhood, Sushi-san built much of their business from daily lunch and dinner crowds for downtown office workers. The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated that customer base, the restaurant had to pivot over the past year.

Before indoor dining came back, Sushi-san started selling TOGO-makase as a new version of their Omakase, meaning chef's choice.

"The thing Im proudest of is the way our team was agile and able to pivot during this past year," Dulyapaibul said.

Sushi-san has reopened for indoor dining, but plans to continue offering TOGO-makase into the future.


Where to Find Delicious Japanese Sandwiches in Chicago

Japanese food is everywhere around America and it is actually pretty rare to go to a city without at least a few decent Japanese restaurants. Despite the number of Japanese restaurants, one specific part of Japanese cuisine that is missing are all the sandwiches that Japan is well known for. If you are looking for sushi or ramen, you probably already know a few places or have a favorite establishment already. On the other hand, if you are looking for a restaurant that specializes in japanese sandwiches, you will probably have a much harder time finding quality establishments.

Luckily, there is one relatively new shop in Chicago that has been very underrated and somehow has snuck under the radar of the public. That place is Cat-Su Sando, a nice play on words for the most well known Japanese katsu sando. Cat-Su Sando is not just some random restaurant that popped up in the middle of the pandemic. Cat-Su stands out from the plethora of new restaurants due to the star lineup of chefs that run the restaurant, most notably two chefs that pivoted directly from Blackbird, and previously Saison, to Cat-Su.

Blackbird was a Michelin starred restaurant located in Chicago but was one of the many establishments that were unable to fight off the struggle of operating during the pandemic and was forced to close its doors. Making the most of these unfortunate circumstances, two chefs from Blackbird, Shawn Clendening and Will Schlaeger, went on to put their passion into Cat-Su Sando.

As Cat-Su is still relatively new and still in the developing stages, the restaurant itself is still in the form of a pop up shop with the goal to eventually transform into a fully functioning physical establishment. The pop up shop is easily accessible through many various delivery options and has quickly risen in popularity throughout the latter half of the pandemic.

On the menu at Cat-Su, there are obviously a variety of sandwich options but also a few additional Japanese dishes. In terms of their sandwich selection, their most popular menu item is the Cat-Su Sando which is a traditional Japanes katsu sandwich. Another very popular option is their Cat-Su Club which has ingredients like grilled chicken, spam, bacon, provolone, and spam jam. One of the reasons why Japanese sandwiches stand out amongst the rest of the comparisons is usually the bread that the sandwiches are made on. At Cat-Su Sando, this is no different. All of the sandwiches are built on top of their milk bread which if you have not tasted before is the creamiest and fluffiest sandwich bread. Milk bread puts wonder bread to shame.

On the other parts of the menu, there are also various items like yakitori (grilled skewers) and onigiri (rice balls). These are also very traditional Japanese foods that can commonly be found in the same places where you might be able to get a sandwich in Japan. One common ingredient that you might find in a huge. portion of Cat-Su Sando's menu is spam. The chefs at Cat-Su really love this ingredient and think that it has a bad name in many American kitchens. Despite this, spam is an ingredient that is very commonly used in a lot of Asian cooking and as such is presented in a new light at Cat-Su Sando.

Both the chef owners of Cat-Su Sando have a strong desire to share their appreciation towards the Japanese culinary universe and share it with a larger community. They have both taken great enjoyment in Cat-Su and will definitely see more success in the future.

Cat-Su Sando can be found located at 2759 W. Agusta Blvd in Humboldt Park.


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