Recently I gave you, oh faithful reader, my current list of favorite Chicago burgers. Today, I’m offering up my current list of favorite Chicago sushi spots. Much like any other type of food here in the Windy City, there are 100’s of sushi restaurants to choose from. I haven’t been to nearly as many as I like, but I’ve been to a few that were amazing and a few that fell flat (looking right at you, Sushi Para).
I’ve noticed most people that love sushi are passionate about they’re favorite places. So just like anything else, this list isn’t meant to be definitive by any means. I have my favorites – more importantly, I’m always anxious to try new sushi places. I guess I’m searching for that perfect Sushi Shang-ri-la. The closest I’ve come to finding that place is with my (current) first choice:
- Indie Cafe – My first time at this Edgewater eatery, I was struck by the extensive menu and quality. Very, very good with lots of rolls to choose from. I’m a huge fan of Spider and Volcano rolls and they do them extremely well here. Another thing I like to do at sushi restaurants is check out their more creative maki rolls. Indie Cafe doesn’t disappoint. They have a whole section devoted to ‘City Maki’, basing flavor profiles on different rolls named after different cities. Everything from Boston to Bangkok to Santa Fe and even our very own Chi Town (whoop whoop!) are represented. Indie Cafe is actually a sushi and Thai restaurant – be sure to try some of their Thai offerings as well. Everything is slap-your-face AMAZING.
- Sunda – High end. Downtown. Sophisticated. High Quality. And worth every last penny. This place is actually one of the best hot spots in the city right now. I was very much blown away. Service is also impeccable – spot on and consistent. I’ve only been the one time, but from what I’ve heard, everyone notes how great the service is. Menu is progressive – I think they refer to themselves as Asian Fusion, which in my mind equates to a higher level and quality of food, mixing in other cultures as well. Just freakin awesome. In terms of quality and atmosphere, this place is #1 – but my favorite is still prolly Indie Cafe. Sunda is more of a special occasion place for me. I’m a big fan of making sushi as accessible and affordable as possible. Indie is totally affordable and reasonable for a random night. Does that make sense?
- Ponzu – I’ve also been here once and I really, really want to go back. It’s within walking distance here in Lakeview- and is SUCH a great neighborhood spot. I went here with a small group of coworkers one evening. 2 things I tried here for the first time – Negri Hamachi and their Hawaiian Roll. The Negri Hamachi was recommended by a co-worker who said that was always one of her go-to rolls. Loved. It. And their Hawaiian Roll – Oh. My. God. It was yellow tail and avocado wrapped with mango and rolled in toasted coconut. Never had anything like it and I was blown away. Much like a lot of sushi places, they’re byob. We got there early on a Thursday with several bottles of wine and pretty much had the place to ourselves, initially. By the time we left, we were stuffed, wine-tipsy and the place was packed.
- Jai Yen – I used to come here a lot when I was visiting Chicago, before I moved. Decent menu with consistent, high quality rolls and other offerings. This Lakeview/Boystown restaurant also very accommodating to larger groups.
- Ringo – Average. Wasn’t bad sushi, but nothing exciting either. This is another little neighborhood spot in Lincoln Park, and I’m sure it’s somebody’s favorite sushi spot – but not mine. We went there sometime late last summer – it was really hot out and we kept guzzling water. It wasn’t very crowded (always a plus) and the people in there seemed like regulars. The place is byob (another definite plus) . . . but the food was just plain average. Maybe a half-step (or not even) above grocery store sushi. And I remember the acoustics were terrible. The music was way loud and everything seemed to echo.