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Sunshine Cafe
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  • Sunshine Cafe

    Post #1 - September 20th, 2005, 11:34 am
    Post #1 - September 20th, 2005, 11:34 am Post #1 - September 20th, 2005, 11:34 am
    Holey Moley. Sunshine Cafe's up on 5449 N. Clark The sukiyake is awesome! Everything I ate was awesome. And it's priced so I can go every other day. Are there any other homestyle Japanese restaurants to compare? Mitsuwa was the last tim eI had soba... like eating at Target...and I liked Katsu but it was a fortune - maybe that was the sushi... anyway.
    Sunshine Cafe... big time recommendation.


    Sunshine Cafe
    5449 N. Clark Street
    773-334-6214
    Chicago, IL
    Closed Mondays
    Sunday Noon - 9pm
    Tues - Sat 4pm to 9pm
    "Yum"
    -- Everyone

    www.chicagofoodies.com
  • Post #2 - September 20th, 2005, 12:41 pm
    Post #2 - September 20th, 2005, 12:41 pm Post #2 - September 20th, 2005, 12:41 pm
    I'm glad you liked it. I love the whole casual, family vibe. Go there with the 5 yr. old often and feel very comfortable. Bring my parents and their Asian-ist friends and colleagues as well. Have never had anything I would quibble with and the value is almost surreal. The place usually seems very busy with regulars (Asian and non-) which also speaks well.

    I seem to recall somewhat dismissive comments in other threads, though I don't recall the context. I don't know if it's a destination, but it definitely is a meaningful part of my life in the neighborhood. And if you're a student or living in your first post-college studio, you could live on one of those huge bowls of udon for almost a week.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #3 - September 20th, 2005, 1:44 pm
    Post #3 - September 20th, 2005, 1:44 pm Post #3 - September 20th, 2005, 1:44 pm
    Ditto the positive reaction, though perhaps a shade less enthusiastically. Lovely Dining Companion is of Japanese descent and we have visited many times for the low-key atmosphere and home cooking. It's truly hard not to enjoy yourself here. The food has no pretensions, is well-prepared without being haute cuisine, and given the prices, there's no reason not to visit repeatedly. We do and will.

    Concur with mrbarolo's point about whether it's a true "destination" place. We live in the 'hood as well and that undoubtedly affects our thinking. If we were coming from a greater distance, we might not be there as often. Still, for what it is, it's wonderful.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #4 - September 20th, 2005, 3:27 pm
    Post #4 - September 20th, 2005, 3:27 pm Post #4 - September 20th, 2005, 3:27 pm
    I would agree about the destination factor if I knew of other similar locations... Especially for folks in Lakeview and south... there really isn't much like it.

    I would assign Katsu with the destination designation but for a BYOB, low low key spot I can't think of a place better...

    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
    same goes with food...
    "Yum"
    -- Everyone

    www.chicagofoodies.com
  • Post #5 - September 20th, 2005, 4:01 pm
    Post #5 - September 20th, 2005, 4:01 pm Post #5 - September 20th, 2005, 4:01 pm
    Although with cheap food, "potent" can be a double-edged sword. :)
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #6 - September 21st, 2005, 9:48 am
    Post #6 - September 21st, 2005, 9:48 am Post #6 - September 21st, 2005, 9:48 am
    chicagofoodies wrote:Are there any other homestyle Japanese restaurants to compare?


    Renga-tei is touted for being 'authentic' here. and here for its goma ae.

    I personally like their katsu (in their ginormous tonkatsu) better than Takkatsu.

    Renga-Tei
    3956 W Touhy Ave
    Lincolnwood, IL 60712
    847-675-5177
  • Post #7 - September 21st, 2005, 9:54 am
    Post #7 - September 21st, 2005, 9:54 am Post #7 - September 21st, 2005, 9:54 am
    TonyC wrote:
    chicagofoodies wrote:Are there any other homestyle Japanese restaurants to compare?


    Renga-tei is touted for being 'authentic' here. and here for its goma ae.

    I personally like their katsu (in their ginormous tonkatsu) better than Takkatsu.

    Renga-Tei
    3956 W Touhy Ave
    Lincolnwood, IL 60712
    847-675-5177


    Good choice, Tony. Renga-Tei is about as close to homestyle-japanese as I've ever had (or so I'd imagine). I really can't get enough of this place. Their katsu is truly excellent and the Friday night katsu curry is one of my favorites.

    This weekend I recently ordered the hamachi kama (broiled yellowtail collar) and it was among the best I've had. It takes a careful hand to broil big hunks of fish to the right temperature. I was digging through cartilage for every little scrap of the sweet, sweet meat.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #8 - March 28th, 2006, 10:39 am
    Post #8 - March 28th, 2006, 10:39 am Post #8 - March 28th, 2006, 10:39 am
    bringing this back to discuss: "what is a destination"?

    if a hotdog shack like Gene and Jude's deserves a suburban jaunt... if Lagniappe's worth endangering one's mental health on the dan ryan... there's no doubt Sunshine Cafe is "chow worthy".

    i don't know where else one can get saba like this in the city (NW suburban Japanese homestyle restaurants not withstanding)... but if mackerel is served in Heaven, i believe this is how it would taste... the mackerel served at Matsuya/Ginza, etc. pales.

    Image

    BYOB, bad flourescent lighting, affordability and the forever-in-business feel are all compelling reasons why one can avoid joints like Tank/Tsuki/Oysy forever.
  • Post #9 - March 28th, 2006, 10:50 am
    Post #9 - March 28th, 2006, 10:50 am Post #9 - March 28th, 2006, 10:50 am
    I think Sunshine Cafe is definitely worth the trek from any part of the city if you're looking for homestyle Japanese cooking. I used to live right around the corner and would go up to two times a week. Even after I moved to Wicker Park, I would still make the drive there when I had a craving for a big bowl of white rice.

    I like my teriyaki chicken marinated first instead of sitting in a pool of sauce.

    All of their donburis are excellent, and priced under $8. The miso soup has been consistently good and their tempura is light and tasty.

    There is no ambiance, no firework displays or techno music. But the space is comfortable and inviting and the food is delicious and reasonably priced.

    What more could you ask for?
  • Post #10 - March 28th, 2006, 11:21 pm
    Post #10 - March 28th, 2006, 11:21 pm Post #10 - March 28th, 2006, 11:21 pm
    Sunshine Cafe is one of my favorite places in the city. I recently had one of the most pristine pieces of salmon, ever, cross my grease-stained lips. And honestly, I'm tired of Japanese food being represented solely by sushi. Besides, no one knows how to crisp a salmon skin like an 80 year-old woman. Go there. Get the fish.
    Take that!
  • Post #11 - March 29th, 2006, 3:45 pm
    Post #11 - March 29th, 2006, 3:45 pm Post #11 - March 29th, 2006, 3:45 pm
    saragrace wrote:And honestly, I'm tired of Japanese food being represented solely by sushi.


    I agree 100%. Japanese food is so much more than sushi/sashimi... Home-style cooking (ofukuro-aji meaning mom's taste) is so under-represented in the city. I usually have to head out to the burbs to get my fix. Although, thanks to my new Japanese cookbooks, and my declining bank balance, I am slowly learning how to make some of the dishes myself:

    Image
    Butajiru / Tonjiru (Pork belly soup with cabbage, daikon, carrots and miso)
  • Post #12 - May 24th, 2006, 2:06 am
    Post #12 - May 24th, 2006, 2:06 am Post #12 - May 24th, 2006, 2:06 am
    Mrs. Ro and I had lunch on Sunday with a neighbor at Sunshine. The meal included:

    STARTERS
    *edamame: served cold (no problem), with slightly overcooked pods so they didn't quite snap into your mouth in the way that I like 'em to, but they're soy beans. Well salted.

    *goma-ae: how do they get that sesame sauce on the spinach to be so sweet? I love this stuff.

    *gyoza: pan-fried pork dumplings, browned just to the edge of crispness, filled with savory, juicy meat.

    *miso soup: their miso was wonderfully balanced with a full flavor profile and a sufficient (not excessive) amount of salt.

    MAIN DISHES
    *Mackerel - yes, this is Mackerel as god intended - crisp skin, lovely seasoning, lemon juice, grated radish, and soy sauce, eaten with chopsticks.

    *Vegetable soba - huge heaping bowl of soba noodles and vegetables in rich broth.

    *Sukeyaki - glass noodles, beef, and some other stuff (this was the neighbor's dish, I didn't want to nose in too aggressively).

    Everything served with green tea - the kind of green tea that tastes faintly of toasted rice (discussed elsewhere).

    It was so good, I left my credit card behind. Retrieval of the card meant ordering takeout for dinner tonight (and several jokes with the proprietor about my credit card limit). Salmon Shoyiaki for me, chicken teriyaki for Mrs. Ro. The salmon was very good, but not as holy as the mackerel. Chicken Teriyaki is right up Mrs. Ro's alley.

    Sunshine is a humble restaurant run by a friendly family that prides itself on serving good food, even under flourescent lights. It's not a place to impress your business associates (unless your business associates yearn for homestyle Japanese cooking), but it is a place to enjoy delicious food prepared well at a very reasonable price.

    Go there at once!

    Keep eating,

    J. Ro

    Sunshine Cafe
    5449 N. Clark Street
    773-334-6214
    Closed Mondays
  • Post #13 - May 24th, 2006, 6:25 am
    Post #13 - May 24th, 2006, 6:25 am Post #13 - May 24th, 2006, 6:25 am
    I tried Sunshine for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I agree with most of the above posters: the food is great. My kind of comfort food.

    While we were dining, Katsu and his wife Haruko (sp?) came in for lunch. A ringing endorsement in my view!
  • Post #14 - May 24th, 2006, 9:39 am
    Post #14 - May 24th, 2006, 9:39 am Post #14 - May 24th, 2006, 9:39 am
    tapler wrote:While we were dining, Katsu and his wife Haruko (sp?) came in for lunch. A ringing endorsement in my view!


    I have never been to Sunshine Cafe when there were not one or more tables of Japanese or Japanese-American diners eating alongside me. If its authenticity (or at least the sense that what you are eating is often enjoyed by people from whose culture the food springs) you crave, then Sunshine is for you.

    Keep eating,
    J. Ro
  • Post #15 - July 17th, 2006, 12:12 am
    Post #15 - July 17th, 2006, 12:12 am Post #15 - July 17th, 2006, 12:12 am
    CrazyC wrote:
    saragrace wrote:And honestly, I'm tired of Japanese food being represented solely by sushi.


    I agree 100%. Japanese food is so much more than sushi/sashimi... Home-style cooking (ofukuro-aji meaning mom's taste) is so under-represented in the city.


    Ditto, just came back from a 15 days Osaka-Kyoto-Fukuoka trek, and I only ate Sushi twice. Quality of food and quantity of restaurants in Japan was simply amazing...
  • Post #16 - July 30th, 2006, 5:54 pm
    Post #16 - July 30th, 2006, 5:54 pm Post #16 - July 30th, 2006, 5:54 pm
    I love Sunshine but I admit I've been going Korean when I have a mackerel craving -- it's not the delicate Japanese saba exactly, but it's a hearty and more oily version where I get two large pieces that I have trouble finishing, 10+ panchans, and a bowl of soup. Is 24 Hr Korean open again?
  • Post #17 - October 7th, 2006, 7:27 am
    Post #17 - October 7th, 2006, 7:27 am Post #17 - October 7th, 2006, 7:27 am
    LTH,

    It had been a while, but as I read BR's GNR nomination of Sunshine Cafe I was reminded how much l liked Sunshine Cafe in general and homestyle Japanese food in particular. In recent months I've been 4-5 times for lunch, Wednesday being my last visit, and the food has been amazingly consistent, always good, grilled mackerel very good.

    Words like homestyle, simple, unpretentious are often misleading, implying easy, lack of thought, anyone can do it, sure, pretty much anyone can toss cold tofu on a plate and eat, but temperature, texture, consistency, management of other elements such as dried bonito flakes, spring onion, grated ginger, forming an attractive delicious whole are anything but simple.

    Hiya Yakko (Chilled Tofu)
    Image

    Tsukemono (Pickle), Goma-ae (spinach), Musubi (Rice ball w/umeboshi in background)
    Image

    Musubi w/umeboshi (Pickled plum)
    Image

    Gyoza, Miso soup in background
    Image

    Potato Croquette
    Image

    Mackerel
    Image

    Sunshine Cafe
    Image

    Good-by, see you soon. :)
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #18 - October 11th, 2006, 2:44 pm
    Post #18 - October 11th, 2006, 2:44 pm Post #18 - October 11th, 2006, 2:44 pm
    LTH,

    Presented the LTHForum GNR Award to Sunshine Cafe today, graciously accepted by Joni Ishida, owner. Pictures may be found here

    Paul Oda (L) Joni Ishida (R)
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #19 - October 11th, 2006, 2:57 pm
    Post #19 - October 11th, 2006, 2:57 pm Post #19 - October 11th, 2006, 2:57 pm
    Both this pic and the Katy's pic are very heart-warming. It's nice to see people who enjoy the appreciation that they deserve. Thanks for sharing these.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #20 - October 11th, 2006, 10:25 pm
    Post #20 - October 11th, 2006, 10:25 pm Post #20 - October 11th, 2006, 10:25 pm
    Sorry that I could not attend . . . especially after viewing the wonderful pictures and descriptions. It's been almost two months since I've stopped in, but all that I can say for those who have never visited Sunshine Cafe is go now. Sure, this is one of those places where you don't have to worry about the bill, but much more importantly, the food is prepared with the skill and affection you typically find only in movies. And with the weather turning colder, you won't find many better places to warm up.
  • Post #21 - October 19th, 2006, 8:42 am
    Post #21 - October 19th, 2006, 8:42 am Post #21 - October 19th, 2006, 8:42 am
    Sunshine will be closed until further notice starting Oct 22... :(
  • Post #22 - October 19th, 2006, 9:00 am
    Post #22 - October 19th, 2006, 9:00 am Post #22 - October 19th, 2006, 9:00 am
    TonyC wrote:Sunshine will be closed until further notice starting Oct 22... :(


    ????? Is there a GNR curse???? I know where I am going for lunch within the next couple of days.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #23 - October 19th, 2006, 9:04 am
    Post #23 - October 19th, 2006, 9:04 am Post #23 - October 19th, 2006, 9:04 am
    Only closed for 2 weeks for vacation starting on Oct 22 (according to the Chicgo Trib)
  • Post #24 - November 10th, 2006, 10:50 am
    Post #24 - November 10th, 2006, 10:50 am Post #24 - November 10th, 2006, 10:50 am
    Swanline wrote:Only closed for 2 weeks for vacation starting on Oct 22 (according to the Chicgo Trib)

    I stopped by last night... and alas, it was still closed. Two weeks, stretching into 3..?
  • Post #25 - November 15th, 2006, 11:08 pm
    Post #25 - November 15th, 2006, 11:08 pm Post #25 - November 15th, 2006, 11:08 pm
    Drove by today; Still closed.
  • Post #26 - November 28th, 2006, 9:56 pm
    Post #26 - November 28th, 2006, 9:56 pm Post #26 - November 28th, 2006, 9:56 pm
    Any word on this place? It has been closed for over 5 weeks. Centerstage is listing it as "Now Closed", as in out of business. That would be a real shame.
  • Post #27 - December 20th, 2006, 11:51 am
    Post #27 - December 20th, 2006, 11:51 am Post #27 - December 20th, 2006, 11:51 am
    Any recent word on Sunshine's status? Better yet, has anyone eaten there in the past week or so?
  • Post #28 - December 20th, 2006, 12:03 pm
    Post #28 - December 20th, 2006, 12:03 pm Post #28 - December 20th, 2006, 12:03 pm
    I phoned yesterday and the answering machine said that they were on vacation.
  • Post #29 - December 20th, 2006, 1:32 pm
    Post #29 - December 20th, 2006, 1:32 pm Post #29 - December 20th, 2006, 1:32 pm
    deesher wrote:I phoned yesterday and the answering machine said that they were on vacation.


    the sign in the door also says "on vacation" - but it's been there since october.
  • Post #30 - February 6th, 2007, 2:29 pm
    Post #30 - February 6th, 2007, 2:29 pm Post #30 - February 6th, 2007, 2:29 pm
    any word? some japanese comfort food would be nice today!

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