So, this past weekend was my birthday. Not a milestone or anything exciting, but it did give me the excuse to eat at several awesome restaurants. The first of which was Toro Sushi . . . now, I will preface this post by saying it will probably sound like a paid advertisement for Toro Sushi – but it’s not. This is just an actual, genuine endorsement. Toro Sushi is so good, you’ll slap your own face. Then you’ll turn to the person you’re with – and slap their face. And by the time you leave, you’ll be slapped silly!
I need to update my running list of favorite sushi places, because Toro Sushi has just made a bee line for the top spot. Toro Sushi is the BEST sushi in Chicago. No other sushi here in the Windy City really compares. It’s that good – and I’m not lying. I promise. I went with some friends who happened to be Toro Sushi regulars. I myself had never been before this past weekend. I’ve heard some several different people around town that it’s the best. And it’s here in my neighborhood – a super-tiny restaurant and every time I walk by, it’s always (ALWAYS) packed out, with something like a 45 min-to-an-hour wait. So I’ve just never been. But these friends know the place well – they put their name in and walked to a wine bar nearby for a quick drink and by the time we met up with them, it was already time for to be seated – perfect timing!
Long story not-so-short, we were seated and the ordering commenced. Our friends, being the experts that they were, had great recommendations and we ordered a slew of rolls like it was the last sushi to be had. Here’s what we ordered:
- The MJ
- The Sunny
- El Fuego
- Some kind of spider roll (can’t remember the name – or was this the Awesome roll? I can’t remember)
- Bento Box
- 2 orders edamame
- 1 seafood salad
We pretty much split everything – and it was all AMAZING – my favorite was either the MJ or the Sunny and it was probably the Sunny. This place is apparently known for using more non-traditional sushi ingredients – the Sunny had sunflower seeds – they were ground up and it gave the roll a hearty, nutty, slightly salty flavor that melted in my mouth and sent me clean over the edge. All of the rolls were creative, with different sorts of ingredients – with cool presentation for the rolls we ordered.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the rolls were their specialty. There’s a set variety of sushi rolls that I’ll choose from different restaurants, like the negi hamachi, soft shell crab, some sort of spicy hot roll, usually named volcano something-or-other. All pretty pedestrian stuff once you know your way around a sushi menu.
One thing I normally don’t care for is sashimi - however, I’m guessing because our friends were regulars, the chef, Mitch (also the owner) sent over a sampler of sashimi. There were slices of yellow tail, salmon and tuna. I tried one of each – they were all super-fresh and tender. Not what I usually go for, but most definitely appreciated.
It was also this extra little bit that made fall in love even more. For all I know those slices of sashimi could have been left over from other rolls – but the fact that the chef was kind enough to share with us, even with such a crowded house all around, made a difference and I was thoroughly impressed. Also, the place is BYOB – does it get any better than that?? As far as prices, they’re definitely comparable – I would say most of the rolls were in the $8-$12 range (I hope I’m remembering that correctly). For the quality – it’s a damn good deal. Toro Sushi is definitely a local place – not big and splashy like some of the more touristy spots here in Chicago, and seemingly proud of their waay-to-small seating space. But, does it compare to the hype of any of those other restaurants? All that and more. Is it worth the wait? And, how!
Need More Seating!
- Name – Toro Sushi (sorry, no website!)
- Neighborhood – Lincoln Park
- Where – 2546 N. Clark Street
- Phone – (773) 348-4877
- Meals – Dinner Sunday – Thursday, Lunch and Dinner Friday – Saturday
- Attire – Casual