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Yoshi’s Café
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  • Yoshi’s Café

    Post #1 - February 18th, 2007, 9:35 am
    Post #1 - February 18th, 2007, 9:35 am Post #1 - February 18th, 2007, 9:35 am
    Yoshi’s Café

    The Wife and I stopped in at Yoshi’s last night for the first time in over 20 years. We’d heard it had become more casual and affordable, though I must say, even in the 80s, it’s seemed like a very unstuffy, fairly-priced place.

    Nobuko, Yoshi’s wife, greeted us and although the place was crowded, showed us right to our table…which was in front of the kitchen doors: “Is this table okay?” she asked, and because we felt it was a little hectic in that area, we agreed to wait for a nicer table. We were seated within minutes (in that short timeframe, Nobuku came by twice to give us updates: “Should be a few minutes; they’re paying right now” and “It’s being set up.”).

    Which brings me to my point: this is a very friendly, considerate, warm place. People all around us all seemed to be smiling, the wait staff was very friendly but just as importantly, very focused on making sure everything was right – servers anticipated needs, sensed concerns, and suggested resolutions with the kind of telepathy you’d expect at Le Francais of ye old days.

    There’s a lot of inventiveness on the menu here, and not the sort of silliness into which some Fusion efforts descended in the late 80s and 90s. The wife’s skate had a light dusting of Cajun spicing (‘tis the season), mounted on a potato/crab croquette and surrounded by a moat of tomatillo sauce, all with very pleasingly coordinated flavors. I had a Wagyu steak with wasabi mashed potatoes (a fine invention) and Japanese mushrooms that would not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the rich meat.

    I like this place.

    Yoshi’s Cafe
    3257 N Halsted St
    773. 248.6160
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #2 - February 18th, 2007, 11:02 am
    Post #2 - February 18th, 2007, 11:02 am Post #2 - February 18th, 2007, 11:02 am
    We haven't been to Yoshi's in probably 5 years. The food and service were, as I remember it, very good.

    The thing that really bugged me though were the huge TV's they had hanging up. I think they had two of them and they sort of killed the vibe for me. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed sort of weird that they had them there.
  • Post #3 - February 18th, 2007, 11:05 am
    Post #3 - February 18th, 2007, 11:05 am Post #3 - February 18th, 2007, 11:05 am
    chicagogrrl wrote:We haven't been to Yoshi's in probably 5 years. The food and service were, as I remember it, very good.

    The thing that really bugged me though were the huge TV's they had hanging up. I think they had two of them and they sort of killed the vibe for me. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed sort of weird that they had them there.


    I don't remember seeing any monitors. There certainly were none in the main dining room, though there might have been one tucked off to the side in the bar. It's also very possible that they decided to take them out.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #4 - February 19th, 2007, 5:36 pm
    Post #4 - February 19th, 2007, 5:36 pm Post #4 - February 19th, 2007, 5:36 pm
    Apparently my last visit to Yoshi's predates LTHForum, for I could not find it. And my search of CH was also unsuccessful, though I know I posted on it there.

    So I will figure it was 3-4 years ago, with the Bride. Very good meal, well done if not terribly creative food, good attentive service, pleasant atmosphere. I sure do not remember a host of TVs and that seems quite out of keeping with the place in any of its incarnations, but it has been a while.

    As I mentioned a while back about Erwin, there is this class of old (meaning they have been around for at least 10 years, often much longer), chef-owned places that are no longer the exciting new thing, and so exist on repeat clientele, often from the neighborhood. The help knows a great percentage of the clientele, and much of the clientele knows the menu by heart. I would guess half their business comes from people who eat there at least once a week.

    These places feel so relaxed, homey and welcoming, and they have it down after decades of practice. It is dining with an exended family of a sort. Yoshis has all that, and of course the asian-fusion thing, even if it is a dated version of it - Japanese cuisine meets French Nouvelle Cuisine. Comfy and good food, too.

    Thanks for the reminder.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #5 - February 19th, 2007, 7:01 pm
    Post #5 - February 19th, 2007, 7:01 pm Post #5 - February 19th, 2007, 7:01 pm
    Although I live in the 'hood, I frequently forget about Yoshi's when trying to think of solid neighborhood restaurants for dinner. And each time I eat here, I tell myself, I need to come back here more frequently.

    One of the little touches that I enjoy...by the door, there's a basket of individually wrapped, freshly made meriengues (yeah, I think I spelled that wrong). It's a classy touch on the ubiquitous Starlight mints.
  • Post #6 - February 24th, 2007, 10:10 am
    Post #6 - February 24th, 2007, 10:10 am Post #6 - February 24th, 2007, 10:10 am
    i frequent yoshi's for brunch. 1 of the best bento boxes in the city. the crab cake eggs benedict is possibly the biggest i've ever seen in this town's brunch circuit.

    the brunch bento features catch-of-the-day fish prepared shioyaki style coupled with some rice, some pickled vegetables and a slice of fruit. very simple, but a few months back, i had the most perfectly done fillet of salmon in years. amazing bargain and style.
  • Post #7 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:35 pm
    Post #7 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:35 pm Post #7 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:35 pm
    When I was house hunting in the hood on a cold, rainy day about a year a go, I cluelessly dragged myself into Yoshi's, bellying up to the bar to order a medium-rare Wagyu burger topped with Brie and a glass of wine.

    Hooked I was.

    And am. Yoshi's continues to be a once-a-month walk across the street for me.
  • Post #8 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:38 pm
    Post #8 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:38 pm Post #8 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:38 pm
    Epoisses wrote:Hooked I was.


    Yoda on Yoshi's :D
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #9 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:50 pm
    Post #9 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:50 pm Post #9 - March 2nd, 2007, 7:50 pm
    David Hammond wrote:
    Epoisses wrote:Hooked I was.


    Yoda on Yoshi's :D


    It was actually a throwback to Dr. Seuss. :wink:
  • Post #10 - March 2nd, 2007, 8:09 pm
    Post #10 - March 2nd, 2007, 8:09 pm Post #10 - March 2nd, 2007, 8:09 pm
    we love yoshi's. great food, great service, great atmosphere. why this restaurant flies under the radar is beyond me.
  • Post #11 - March 6th, 2007, 9:09 am
    Post #11 - March 6th, 2007, 9:09 am Post #11 - March 6th, 2007, 9:09 am
    chgoeditor wrote:Although I live in the 'hood, I frequently forget about Yoshi's when trying to think of solid neighborhood restaurants for dinner. And each time I eat here, I tell myself, I need to come back here more frequently.

    I could have written this. But you did first.

    we love yoshi's. great food, great service, great atmosphere. why this restaurant flies under the radar is beyond me.

    I have a theory, but not really an explanation. My theory is that Yoshi's is so-often forgotten for the same reason that Erwin's and X/O are--they're all along a 5-block length of N. Halsted St. that is not known for interesting dining. All three restaurants would probably garner more ongoing acclaim if they were located in Bucktown or Ukrainian Village or Lincoln Square or someplace like that. Now, why this stretch of Halsted should feel somehow antithetical to fine and/or exciting dining, I won't hazard a guess. I just know that it does. Such that I think that even a brand new terrific place opening up there would have a hard time making a go of it. I'm glad there are enough neighborhood regulars to keep Yoshi's et. al. hanging in despite all that--and I hope to get back to all three places soon.
  • Post #12 - March 6th, 2007, 9:37 am
    Post #12 - March 6th, 2007, 9:37 am Post #12 - March 6th, 2007, 9:37 am
    riddlemay wrote:Now, why this stretch of Halsted should feel somehow antithetical to fine and/or exciting dining, I won't hazard a guess.


    I'll take a shot since I just moved out the neighborhood (lived right across the street from Yoshi's on Halsted for about 2.5 years).

    Let's say you go to X/O for an 8pm reservation. You get done eating at about 10:30 and step outside. You step into absolute chaos. Halsted gets filled up with people bar hopping from one place to the next. As the night goes on people get more and more drunk. It was a fun neighborhood to live in, but fighting through a bunch of drunk people to get home every Friday and Saturday night got a little old. That really isn't the sort of setting people seek our for fine dining. Although I agree that X/O and Yoshi's are both fantastic.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #13 - September 3rd, 2011, 9:44 am
    Post #13 - September 3rd, 2011, 9:44 am Post #13 - September 3rd, 2011, 9:44 am
    Had dinner at Yoshi's last night. I don't know why it's been so long since our last visit. (Actually, we did call a few months ago for a reservation that evening, but they were doing a special event that night.) Anyway, we finally returned last night, and my entree, the Japanese-style Chilean Sea Bass, served in a bento box, was absolutely fantastic. Fresh, moist, chopstick-tender, superbly seasoned--all-in-all one of the best things I've eaten in a long time. Mr. and Mrs. Yoshi greeted us warmly, and it was nice to see some of the same waitstaff who have been there for years. It was also nice to see that by around 8 PM the place was full. Yoshi's is hanging in there!

    My wife and niece were as happy with their choices as I was with mine, which is to say, extremely so. Wife's main dish was a Nicoise salad containing beautifully very-rare, thinly sliced, impeccably fresh tuna; vegetarian niece had a stew served inside a roasted pumpkin, which she raved about. We will definitely not let as long an interval occur before our next visit.
  • Post #14 - September 3rd, 2011, 11:31 am
    Post #14 - September 3rd, 2011, 11:31 am Post #14 - September 3rd, 2011, 11:31 am
    riddlemay wrote:The Japanese-style Chilean Sea Bass, served in a bento box, was absolutely fantastic. Fresh, moist, chopstick-tender, superbly seasoned--all-in-all one of the best things I've eaten in a long time.


    Was this a special or on the regular menu? I went in a few months ago & was dismayed to find the bento box was gone from the menu. I'll be very happy if it's returned to the regular menu.
  • Post #15 - September 3rd, 2011, 12:52 pm
    Post #15 - September 3rd, 2011, 12:52 pm Post #15 - September 3rd, 2011, 12:52 pm
    I believe it was a special--but couldn't swear to it. Both menus were on ordinary paper (like the kind that's in your printer). If the regular menu were on heavier stock and the specials were on plain paper, I'd have a sensory memory of which of them listed the bento box, but such is not the case.
  • Post #16 - August 4th, 2015, 8:08 am
    Post #16 - August 4th, 2015, 8:08 am Post #16 - August 4th, 2015, 8:08 am
    Sad news: Yoshi Katsumura passed away over the weekend after battling cancer: http://opuschicago.com/2015/08/03/boyst ... of-cancer/
  • Post #17 - November 17th, 2018, 3:11 pm
    Post #17 - November 17th, 2018, 3:11 pm Post #17 - November 17th, 2018, 3:11 pm
    Frozen in amber. Classic or venerable. Yoshi's remains right down the middle of the fairway. And, as they're celebrating their 36th anniversary this week, it seems to be a formula that's worked out just fine for them.

    Our meal this past week was competently prepared, unadventurous and pretty unexciting. The menu feels like it's from the mid-1980's: Tuna Tartare (with Oyster Shooter), Panko Breaded Goat Cheese, Maki Sushi, Molten Chocolate Cake and, from the brunch menu, "Bump yourself up to First-Class with Truffle Oil for your plate for additional $3.50." What probably was once considered edgy fusion cuisine seems so dated now that it almost feels intentionally nostalgic.

    One trend that was born, grew up and went completely mainstream in the three and half decades since Yoshi came on the scene is seasonality. Perhaps it's been partially ignored here in favor of keeping some change-averse regulars happy. I had to chuckle when I found asparagus tips in the lamb tagine and fresh berries adorning a few of the desserts we ordered. November be damned!

    On the plus side, most of it was tasty enough. With the exception of a trio of pretty weak desserts, I didn't think anything was exceptional in either direction. Service was friendly and efficient. And it really was nice to have a meal in a truly conversation-friendly space.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #18 - March 11th, 2020, 10:41 am
    Post #18 - March 11th, 2020, 10:41 am Post #18 - March 11th, 2020, 10:41 am
    Son of acclaimed Yoshi’s Cafe founder takes over longtime Lakeview spot

    https://chicago.eater.com/2020/3/11/211 ... boka-group
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard

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