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Actually Good Sushi in Lincoln Park/Lakeview

Actually Good Sushi in Lincoln Park/Lakeview
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  • Actually Good Sushi in Lincoln Park/Lakeview

    Post #1 - July 16th, 2016, 10:44 am
    Post #1 - July 16th, 2016, 10:44 am Post #1 - July 16th, 2016, 10:44 am
    Does anyone know of any?

    We were regulars at our beloved Itto Sushi for over 30 years. (Calculated on our last night there that we'd been there roughly 1200 times.)

    The other night, without especially high hopes, we walked around the corner to Nori. Nothing tasted bad--because nothing tasted like anything at all.

    So we need an Itto replacement that's anywhere in the LP/LV neighborhood. Someplace that serves sushi nigiri that at least approximates how sushi nigiri is supposed to taste.

    Is there one?
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #2 - July 16th, 2016, 10:58 am
    Post #2 - July 16th, 2016, 10:58 am Post #2 - July 16th, 2016, 10:58 am
    Great question--one we've been mulling this weekend as well. One of our group suggested Kyoto but I had 2 pretty bad-mediocre experiences many, many years ago and haven't been back. Anyone been there recently? And, yes, hoping to add a few more to the list.

    I will add that Macku has always been consistently good, though more of the "modern" style and I haven't been since Macku and Kaze parted ways.

    And Wasabi on Milwaukee is decent for sushi and very good for ramen--though I know that's out of OPs boundary.

    Still, I'd be happy to see this thread include ANY decent city places since, as far as good, traditional Japanese options, we seem to have started weak and gotten even weaker over the past few years. I dread the day that Renga Tei throws in the towel.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #3 - July 16th, 2016, 12:02 pm
    Post #3 - July 16th, 2016, 12:02 pm Post #3 - July 16th, 2016, 12:02 pm
    I'm at Halsted and Chicago, thus sympathetic to the need for good Sushi if not willing to go a bit farther south.

    So interested in fact that since this thread is just getting started, I'll roll with a hot take: there really isn't any.

    Even among folks who's food opinions I respect, I haven't ever walked away from a recommended place that impressed. Even if somewhere isn't hawking garbage like sushi burritos or moremayothanmaki, it's all too easy to fall into the trap of GrubHub and the like. Finally, even then...geography plays its role in what might be Chicago's only food scene flaw.

    If I had to take someone to sushi right now, it's break the bank time either super far north to Katsu or hopefully not going at prime time to Momotaro.

    If I absolutely had to stay in LP, Naoki isn't terrible — as in it'll be refined, pure and the fish quality is good. Yet the experience just feels weird, as it seems too difficult given that you have to make it all the way to the former L2O private dining space in order to eat nigiri. I've been meaning to go back, as I'm a big Lettuce fan, but id be looking for a much better experience at the bar, and there's no easy way to just sneak in and see if there happens to be a spot.

    Oh well, hopefully someone will recommend something that counters the anti-Lakeview take...had some of the worst sushi ever at tons of spots off Halsted, Broadway and Belmont...:-/
  • Post #4 - July 16th, 2016, 1:50 pm
    Post #4 - July 16th, 2016, 1:50 pm Post #4 - July 16th, 2016, 1:50 pm
    We thought the sushi was extremely good at Naoki last night. For comparison, our favorite in the city, hands dow, is Kai Zen, and we often go to both Juno and Arami. I would now go back to Naoki before either of those. Portion size was especially notable compared to our visit to Arami a few weeks ago. We were also offered a few specials not on the menu, and then after some good ordering, a few specials not on the specials menu (i.e.: "we managed to get three flying fish in the house tonight, would you like one?"). Nothing disappointed, most wowed, and we also enjoyed the perfectly balanced cucumber-sake-lime cocktail.
  • Post #5 - July 16th, 2016, 9:04 pm
    Post #5 - July 16th, 2016, 9:04 pm Post #5 - July 16th, 2016, 9:04 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:Great question--one we've been mulling this weekend as well. One of our group suggested Kyoto but I had 2 pretty bad-mediocre experiences many, many years ago and haven't been back. Anyone been there recently? And, yes, hoping to add a few more to the list.


    I think I'm the one who suggested Kyoto, I've had good experiences with it when it was on Lincoln Avenue, but that building was just demolished and they moved to 401 W. Fullerton, just east of Clark. I haven't been there since the move, but they still have halibut collar on the menu which is a good sign. I'll have to get boudreaulicious and give it a try. Itto and Kyoto were the last of the old school places in Lincoln Park, I hope Kyoto has a few years of good food left.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #6 - July 17th, 2016, 9:44 am
    Post #6 - July 17th, 2016, 9:44 am Post #6 - July 17th, 2016, 9:44 am
    My two favorites in Lincoln Park are Juno and Naoki. Unfortunately, if you're looking for more of the really casual, old school Japanese spots, those days seem officially over . . . and you'll spend a lot more (but be really satisfied with the nigiri prep) and probably dress more at both Juno and Naoki.
  • Post #7 - July 17th, 2016, 10:28 am
    Post #7 - July 17th, 2016, 10:28 am Post #7 - July 17th, 2016, 10:28 am
    BR wrote:My two favorites in Lincoln Park are Juno and Naoki. Unfortunately, if you're looking for more of the really casual, old school Japanese spots, those days seem officially over . . . and you'll spend a lot more (but be really satisfied with the nigiri prep) and probably dress more at both Juno and Naoki.


    Thanks for this and the other replies. Juno (which we haven't tried) at least has the advantage for us of being around the block. (From the address, it looks like it's in the old Merlo space.) But I suppose reservations are required. The ideal would be to find a place like Itto, which you could drop in on at any time, come as you are, and receive a friendly welcome. But knowing that such places no longer exist in our orbit is useful in its own way, even if sad. It stops a lot of useless effort searching for something that doesn't exist.
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #8 - July 17th, 2016, 2:20 pm
    Post #8 - July 17th, 2016, 2:20 pm Post #8 - July 17th, 2016, 2:20 pm
    I'll second the Kai Zan recommendation (especially if you're a toro fan) and add Roka Akor to it, even though neither of them are in LP/LV unfortunately. Kyoto used to be good but then the people who made it good left and started Kai Zan a few years ago. I haven't been impressed by Kyoto since then.
  • Post #9 - July 17th, 2016, 2:27 pm
    Post #9 - July 17th, 2016, 2:27 pm Post #9 - July 17th, 2016, 2:27 pm
    What about the new location of Matsuya in the old Shiroi Hana space? I haven't been there. Has anyone tried it? Could that be a contender?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - July 17th, 2016, 2:32 pm
    Post #10 - July 17th, 2016, 2:32 pm Post #10 - July 17th, 2016, 2:32 pm
    stevez wrote:What about the new location of Matsuya in the old Shiroi Hana space? I haven't been there. Has anyone tried it? Could that be a contender?


    If you mean the one I wrote about here, then no.
  • Post #11 - July 17th, 2016, 7:06 pm
    Post #11 - July 17th, 2016, 7:06 pm Post #11 - July 17th, 2016, 7:06 pm
    BR wrote:
    stevez wrote:What about the new location of Matsuya in the old Shiroi Hana space? I haven't been there. Has anyone tried it? Could that be a contender?


    If you mean the one I wrote about here, then no.


    From your report, it sounds like they kept the Mexican sushi crew from Shiroi Hana on the staff. They used to specialize in badly cut sushi like that.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - July 18th, 2016, 7:55 am
    Post #12 - July 18th, 2016, 7:55 am Post #12 - July 18th, 2016, 7:55 am
    Great thread, I was just having this conversation the other day though I live in Bucktown and I cannot think of one great place to go eat sushi at that is not super expensive or requires pre-planning. Momotoro, Katsu (far away from me) or Kai Zan.

    I have been meaning to try Juno but do not wander east to LP to often.

    Chicago sushi gods, unite! :lol:
  • Post #13 - July 18th, 2016, 10:42 am
    Post #13 - July 18th, 2016, 10:42 am Post #13 - July 18th, 2016, 10:42 am
    The menu leans heavily on makimono at Toro Sushi on Clark, but the fish quality impressed a friend from Manhattan enough for him to become a regular when he moved to town. Mitch is a great sushi chef and the restaurant is BYOB, but gets packed early.

    Toro Sushi
    2546 N Clark St
    Chicago, IL 60614
    (773) 348-7255
  • Post #14 - July 20th, 2016, 10:21 am
    Post #14 - July 20th, 2016, 10:21 am Post #14 - July 20th, 2016, 10:21 am
    lodasi wrote:The menu leans heavily on makimono at Toro Sushi on Clark, but the fish quality impressed a friend from Manhattan enough for him to become a regular when he moved to town. Mitch is a great sushi chef and the restaurant is BYOB, but gets packed early.

    Toro Sushi
    2546 N Clark St
    Chicago, IL 60614
    (773) 348-7255


    I will second this
  • Post #15 - July 20th, 2016, 3:57 pm
    Post #15 - July 20th, 2016, 3:57 pm Post #15 - July 20th, 2016, 3:57 pm
    I've dismissed Toro as a place my cousin who won't eat raw seafood would like, I'll have to give it another try. I think what I'm looking for also is not just an LP sushi place, but an old school Japanese place where I can get mackerel and cooked food like Sunshine or the original Matsuya. It was disheartening to hear the people who made Kyoto good have left.
    For what we choose is what we are. He should not miss this second opportunity to re-create himself with food. Jim Crace "The Devil's Larder"
  • Post #16 - July 20th, 2016, 6:39 pm
    Post #16 - July 20th, 2016, 6:39 pm Post #16 - July 20th, 2016, 6:39 pm
    Interestingly, I've been informed that the current owner of Matsuya is the former owner of Matsuya . . . and that he moved back from California. Unfortunately, the sushi chefs at Matsuya are not the sushi chefs from the old Matsuya . . . or at least they were not when I visited. But damn, I used to love that place. I might give them another try at some point . . . might.
  • Post #17 - July 24th, 2016, 7:51 pm
    Post #17 - July 24th, 2016, 7:51 pm Post #17 - July 24th, 2016, 7:51 pm
    Itto sushi was my first-ever experience with sushi. I'll always remember going as a kid, and over the years I began to forget its simple, easy menu and experience.

    With Itto gone, I only go to three places in Lincoln Park, all of which satisfy my needs.

    - Toro Sushi is BYOB and pretty great. They have a series of "special" rolls, most of which are tricked out with a spicy sauce or mayo. I've always had a great experience at Toro, however the wait can be over an hour even on a Wednesday night. It's best to walk up, put your name down, and have a glass of wine at one of the several mediocre bars in walking distance.

    - Green Tea sushi is a no-frills sushi joint that, in its simplicity and price always leaves me satisfied. It's one of the cheaper sushi places I've been, and still serves fresh, good fish. The decor is lacking, but BYOB and never a wait. Reminds me of Itto in its unpretentiousness, but the food is probably a hair or two below Itto.

    - Kameya is the newest of these three, and served some of the better sushi I've had in Chicago. They have a series of special rolls, and then a rotating section of seasonal nigiri. A few highlights were the oysters (large, fresh, clean) and toro salmon nigiri. Also had two specialty rolls, each of which were good and full of flavor. Personally, I prefer basic rolls and nigiri/sashimi, as I like the fish to stand out without needing mayo, etc. I'd trust just about anything they'd put in front of me. Kameya is fairly small; I walked right in on a Wednesday, and have heard of people needing reservations on weekends.

    As for a response to many of the other posters--Juno // Kai Zan // Momotaro and the lot are of the more expensive sushi restaurants in the city and are more of a "culinary destination." The beauty of Itto sushi was that it was a bona fide neighborhood spot where you could simply walk in, order food, and feel comfortable without breaking the bank. The sushi itself was not the most remarkable I'd ever had, but Itto always delivered in its authenticity and consistency.
  • Post #18 - August 7th, 2016, 11:24 am
    Post #18 - August 7th, 2016, 11:24 am Post #18 - August 7th, 2016, 11:24 am
    When 3 LTHers post about the same place re: “actually good sushi”, I figure it was at least worth a try, even if there are some warning signs…

    I've dismissed Toro as a place my cousin who won't eat raw seafood would like


    …and yet, I felt the same way walking in. So many sushi places on either Halsted or Broadway look so alike, and since most of them serve a god awful product, things don’t look good at first sight.

    Thankfully, LTH doesn’t disappoint. I’m happy to say that that Toro can live up to the moniker of actually good sushi. 90% of this battle is won on fish, and there’s solid work there — well sliced, no off tastes, nor is anything clearly defrosted. You’re probably never going for nigiri or sashimi, and they don’t have their namesake or even particularly impressive tekkamaki, but the futo rolls benefit from their ingredients.

    Service was pleasant, opting for the “neighborhood spot” vibe right down to the Christmas cards and thank you letters hung on the walls. Mitch cares about his operation, and though I hesitate to draw too many comparisons, at a high level I think it’s fair to draw parallels to Sushi Mike in that both seem to emphasize rolls to suit their customers tastes, not simply to cover up subpar chefs or ingredients.

    With some pleasant surprise and pleasantries out of the way, some issues:

    • given the solid-enough fish, why so many attempts to cover it up? It makes sense that sushi may require more introduction to certain demographics, but everything is mayo this or cream cheese that. While I'll admit to being a whore for unagi sauce, there's so much more to be had, and if the North Side sushi is trending towards less old school Japanese, and the trendy is more towards "experiential" and omakase, perhaps to be actually good need to offer what represents their view of the product and not just what Judy off Sheffield thought tasted good back in 1999?

    • food is king, food is first. service is next, leaving little left for presentation. Also, I'm hardly the type to try and wade into this sort of discussion when the cuisine itself is fraught with cultural mixing, marrying, family and the like. Still, The Sign. Is it really necessary? Do the 's' added on make it better? Can you blame someone for judging a book by its cover for thinking that regardless of the awesome benefits sushi may provide in someone's sex life, that doesn't help convey respect for your food?

    Back to LTH, it sounds like this Itto place was pretty solid. I'll have to look back through and see why it closed. In the meantime, Toro is a surprising eye raise that gives hope for fresh fish between Clark and the Park. But this is primarily a place for when you want a bit of LP Maki, and ask Mitch to hold back on the mayo.

    Next up: Juno.
  • Post #19 - August 7th, 2016, 11:34 am
    Post #19 - August 7th, 2016, 11:34 am Post #19 - August 7th, 2016, 11:34 am
    LVGamer wrote:Back to LTH, it sounds like this Itto place was pretty solid. I'll have to look back through and see why it closed. In the meantime, Toro is a surprising eye raise that gives hope for fresh fish between Clark and the Park...

    Next up: Juno.


    LV, thank you for this report and your continuing survey!

    As for why Itto closed, I'm not sure it's spelled out anywhere above, but the reason is that the husband/wife owners (he behind the sushi bar, she front of house) decided they were ready for a well-earned retirement after many successful years.
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #20 - August 30th, 2016, 12:16 pm
    Post #20 - August 30th, 2016, 12:16 pm Post #20 - August 30th, 2016, 12:16 pm
    Just checking in with a "Damn, almost got to go to Juno tonight." The fly in the ointment is that they don't have any cooked dishes like the teriyaki salmon or the chicken naki-yiku that mrs. riddlemay used to enjoy at Itto. So I had to cancel the reservation. (She's not a raw fish eater.)

    Do any of the other above suggested places offer these sorts of cooked dishes, so that both my wife and I can enjoy going there? I'm hoping so. (I could go down the list and call all of them individually, but it would be lovely if someone here happens to know.) I have a feeling Naoki might have to be crossed off our list for the same reason, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Sigh...missing Itto more and more.
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #21 - August 30th, 2016, 12:22 pm
    Post #21 - August 30th, 2016, 12:22 pm Post #21 - August 30th, 2016, 12:22 pm
    riddlemay wrote:Just checking in with a "Damn, almost got to go to Juno tonight." The fly in the ointment is that they don't have any cooked dishes like the teriyaki salmon or the chicken naki-yiku that mrs. riddlemay used to enjoy at Itto. So I had to cancel the reservation. (She's not a raw fish eater.)

    Do any of the other above suggested places offer these sorts of cooked dishes, so that both my wife and I can enjoy going there? I'm hoping so. (I could go down the list and call all of them individually, but it would be lovely if someone here happens to know.) I have a feeling Naoki might have to be crossed off our list for the same reason, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Sigh...missing Itto more and more.


    Kameya has a series of hot appetizers, plus ramen + bulgogi + bi bim bap. As someone who grew up on Itto Sushi, this place is a tad bit more "trendy" but still has a nice neighborhood vibe and good sushi/service, and is still affordable sushi compared to Juno, et al.
  • Post #22 - August 30th, 2016, 12:54 pm
    Post #22 - August 30th, 2016, 12:54 pm Post #22 - August 30th, 2016, 12:54 pm
    Thanks, jb. Meantime, I notice (from perusing online menus) that two places we've been in the past (but haven't been to in eons, so that I forgot about them)--Sai Cafe and Mirai Sushi--have teriyaki salmon and such on the menu. Neither one has come up on this thread (in Mirai's case, possibly because it's not in LP/LV, but then some other places not in LP/LV have been mentioned), so possibly they are "out of favor"? Or judged inferior as sushi venues to the places that have been mentioned?
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #23 - August 30th, 2016, 1:04 pm
    Post #23 - August 30th, 2016, 1:04 pm Post #23 - August 30th, 2016, 1:04 pm
    Riddlemay I've been to Sai a few times and was never very impressed. Mirai is good - one of my friends says it's his favorite restaurant in Chicago - but I think they're heavy with their sauces and have never really understood the hype.

    The beauty of Itto was that it was effectively a good, authentic, little-mayo sushi restaurant that served fresh, quality fish for relatively affordable prices. All the others seem to lack their charm, or tow the line on being too trendy.
  • Post #24 - September 1st, 2016, 6:38 pm
    Post #24 - September 1st, 2016, 6:38 pm Post #24 - September 1st, 2016, 6:38 pm
    Not in Lincoln Park or Lakeview but the best sushi to my mind is at Taketei in Edgewater. A tiny spot, no cooked entrees, no gimmicks ... just a beautifully clean bright space with pretty wood tables and friendly personal service. BYOB - superb nigiri, sashimi and rolls. Call for a table as they are often booked up. https://www.facebook.com/Taketei-216271695163553/
  • Post #25 - September 2nd, 2016, 9:52 am
    Post #25 - September 2nd, 2016, 9:52 am Post #25 - September 2nd, 2016, 9:52 am
    I actually like Sushi Mon a little bit in East Lincoln Park. I've only been there a handful of times, but I like it because they actually give you more fish than rice and aren't skimpy on it (at least everytime I went there). It's not like Hatsu Hana in Lakeview East where the amount of rice in the nigiri is small, which makes the amount of fish they're giving you look bigger than it actually is. The quality is better than average, though maybe not amazing. I was introduced to it by a friend originally from Asia who spent a good amount of time in Japan and used to live in NYC. He was a pretty big fan of the place and was a regular there.

    Sushi Mon
    2441 N Clark St
    773-529-8812
  • Post #26 - September 2nd, 2016, 1:05 pm
    Post #26 - September 2nd, 2016, 1:05 pm Post #26 - September 2nd, 2016, 1:05 pm
    Mirai's sushi is good. We haven't gotten their cooked items, so I can't answer there. The upstairs is kind of sexy-loungey and downstairs more standard restaurant. We like to sit on their patio, if we can, it's pleasant. Unlike the Division Street patios East of Damen, theirs is closer to the restaurant, and not right up against the street.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #27 - September 2nd, 2016, 10:05 pm
    Post #27 - September 2nd, 2016, 10:05 pm Post #27 - September 2nd, 2016, 10:05 pm
    I hadn't been to Juno for a while before tonight, but they're still leaps and bounds above anyone else when it comes to nigiri. Nobody is doing rice like they are - texture, temperature and flavor. You pay for it, but at least they deliver what they should for the price.
  • Post #28 - September 13th, 2016, 6:33 pm
    Post #28 - September 13th, 2016, 6:33 pm Post #28 - September 13th, 2016, 6:33 pm
    Wakamono has always been consistently good quality and delicious.
    I was at Naoki recently and was seriously disappointed, the quality didn't seem that great and the prices were ridiculous for what we were served. Another favorite is Macku, which is more of a special occasion kind of place, but I would have much rather gone there than Naoki.

    Wakamono - 3313 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60657
    Macku - 2239 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
  • Post #29 - September 14th, 2016, 10:50 am
    Post #29 - September 14th, 2016, 10:50 am Post #29 - September 14th, 2016, 10:50 am
    A friend went to Macku last week and could not sing its praises enough. Definitely firing on all cylinders.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #30 - September 15th, 2016, 11:00 am
    Post #30 - September 15th, 2016, 11:00 am Post #30 - September 15th, 2016, 11:00 am
    In 1997, we had been regulars at Itto for many years, when a friend suggested Sai Cafe. Well, we never made it back to Itto after that. We're not a fan of the bizarro, fancy rolls found at some of the newer places, and the freshness, portions and constant quality and excellent service at Sai satisfies us every time. I just wish they'd expand the beer selection beyond Kirin and Sapporo.

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