Japanese cuisine is in bloom and it seems like every corner in Chicago has a great selection of Japanese restaurants, from sushi to ramen to the izakaya to tonkatsu. Out of all Japanese food, one of my favorites is "Robatayaki (炉端焼き)" style cooking. There is something fascinating about fresh ingredients grilled on top of charcoal that makes it tastes amazing.
As you walk up to Chicago Street in the Ukrainian Village, there are a few Japanese restaurants to pick from. Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill is one of the places I recommend for you to try.
Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill opened their first location on May 27, 2011, and is the first place that introduced Robatayaki (炉端焼き) to Chicago. It has an intimate space enough to seat comfortably 35. In February of 2015, Chef Yoot the owner decided to move Yuzu into a bigger space just a few doors down. This new location still keeps the same concept with comic-inspired walls, a fun system that's full of energy, and a trendy soundtrack playing in the background.
At the front area, there is a commercial table made up into a party table. It is a 2x4 studded table with a wood top that "inspires" forth folks to strike up with fun conversation.
Time to Meet The Chefs:
First, we have the owner Chef Yoot, who has worked at the Sushi Wabi for over 7 years. Following that experience, Yoot continues with the delectable dish that has the potential to transform food into a piece of art.
Chef Pamela Cariquitan, a native of Sterling Heights, Michigan, began her culinary career young and humble. Cariquitan started work as a garde manger chef at the Takashi for 2 years and then continued her work on at The Arami as a Sous Chef for 2 years.
In 2015, she made another transition to Yuzu as the Executive Chef. With Cariquitan Japanese background and inspired with spicy Korean cuisine, Yuzu is a concept that makes big bold flavors in every dish.
Chef Tammasorn Sunsan, maybe better known as Tob, has more than five years of experience as a sushi chef around the city. Behind the sushi bar, he knows his fish just well as he knows his knife skills. While he was showing me how to cut Salmon and Hrame, he said: "This is the best part of Hirame called Engawa." Tob let me taste some Green Negi Engawa: Engawa sushi top with ponzu sauce. It is crunchy and a little chewy for me with a very bright flavor from ponzu sauce.
Chef Tob said, "We cut 25 salmon (the whole salmon) per week." As I have been coming to Yuzu for years, I know this place has fresh fish and chef Tob confirmed that it is the truth and how fast they rotate the fish.
This is a chewy part (katai), is known as Sashimi inside the Japanese Flounder Fin. Hirame is one of the fish (white fish) that you begin to warm up the palate.
Chef Worawit Boonyapituksaku, Ray, who shows how to cut the whole tuna in the back of the sushi bar, so every bite has a fresh taste from the sea. Ray is packed with experience as a sushi chef over 8 years.
Chef Sunijit Srilcaew, Nine, is one of the sushi chefs that put art on the plates. Before being handed across the bar, most of the sushi plates are decorated with art that comes with an iconic cartoon theme. He took my breath away when I saw the Chicago roll; The Chicago skyline above the Chicago Signature roll and a nice touch of Yuzu Chicago Sushi. This menu speaks for itself that if you are in Chicago, you have to take a trip to Yuzu.
Let’s get to know Yuzu's menu:
There is nothing traditional about Yuzu; they spin the food into a piece of art that associates with creativity. From the Izakaya menu to Robata to Yuzu rolls to the Special menu, each menu changes every 4 to 6 months (you can stay tune at Yuzu.com). It is well worth it for you to make a plan and stop by.
Tuna Poke: Fresh Hawaiian Tuna marinated in soy sauce and house special spices adorned with fancy thinly sliced avocado. I order this item every time I stop by and suggest you try the tuna and avocado all in one bite. The creaminess of avocado balances out the tangy taste of the marinated sauce.
Avocado Mango Salad: They create a completely satisfying salad with avocado, mango, spring mix and a vibrant, spicy ponzu dressing and plenty of delightful.
Chicken Golek**: Chicken is grilled on top of charcoal that makes it taste amazing with southern Thai curry sauce. For a curry lover, this is an item you must try!!!
Pork Shoulder**: Juicy pork shoulder is marinated in a Thai special sauce, grilled on the skewers, and served with sweet chili sauce. I would say the idea is similar to that of the Thai Grilled Pork on Skewers (Mooh-Ping/หมูปิ้ง).
Rib Eye** Beef is marinated in a house special sauce with a nice touch of Thai herb sauce.
Shishito**: Whether eaten as an Izakaya or joined into the main dish, these sweet and crunchy shishito peppers are delicious. This charred shishito is served with a Teriyaki sauce that gets a salty and a hint of tangy taste from ponzu sauce.
Hustler Lamb (2pcs): These delicious imported Aussie lamb is served with a luscious black garlic chutney sauce.
Asparagus: Care for some grilled asparagus and ponzu? Yes! Especially for a special occasion and a glass of wine must be involved.
Nasu: For these, a charcoal vision of Japanese eggplant served with a Thai favorite, peanut sauce.
Yuzu Rolls :
Chicago Spring**: This jumbo roll comes with crunchy shrimp tempura, avocado, and cream cheese inside, topped with red Tobiko, masago, chili sauce, wasabi mayo, sweet soy sauce, scallions, and more crunchies from tempura bread crumbs.
Dragon: There is a perfect marriage with Japanese style shrimp tempura, Unagi, and avocado; nothing to go wrong with these 3 together. With fresh cucumber balancing out the saltiness from Unagi, crunchy tempura crumbs add more texture to the roll with spicy mayo and Unagi sweet soy sauce. With these, 2 dragons are flying around the roll, made me feel like watching an old school Chinese movie.
River Walk**: 3 kinds of my favorite fish appear here as Salmon, Tuna and Super White Tuna are all on parade in the roll with avocado, cucumber, cilantro, jalapeno, scallions. Topped with crunchy tempura crumbs, wasabi, Tobiko, a kick of chili sauce, wasabi mayo and sweet soy sauce. I vote for that Darn Cute Snail!!.
Sorry, I Am Drunk**: Unagi and cooked shrimp are combined with a tasty array of flavors, from spicy mayo, massago, sesame oil, avocado, and both black & red Tobiko.
Shrimp Tempura: An amazing crunchy shrimp tempura, cucumber, tempura crumbs, tasty spicy mayo and sweet soy sauce.
Yakuza Mussel**: Andrew Zimmern recommends to Food and Wine Magazine to use plump, wild Mediterranean mussels! Here the juicy plump Mediterranean mussels are imported and combined with amazing alternative flavors of garlic, ginger, yuzu juice, dashi, and gochujang. Served with Asiago Batard bread grilled with chili pepper flake.
Killing me Softly**: This luxurious green frisee is tossed with mint sauce, asparagus, and sautéed Maitake mushroom with red pepper coulis. It is a delightful accompaniment to a pan-fried imported Hokkaido Scallop.
Hamachi Collar**: The Hamachi collar is simply the section just behind the head and gills, or the best part of the Yellowtail. It is not on the menu, but you can ask the server if it is available for you to order.
**Note - Here are my top recommendations for you to try.
Atmosphere: Japanese Industrial-Rustic Sushi Bar.
What to eat:
Izakaya - Avocado Mango(6), Grilled Squid (10), Sweet Potato Fries (6), Tuna Poke (11)
Robata- Pork Shoulder (3.5), Chicken Golek (3.5), Beef Short Rib (4), Rib Eye (4), Shishito (3), Bacon Scallop (4)
Yuzu Roll- Born to Chill (17), Chicago Spring (16), Breaking Bad (17), Riverwalk (16), Sorry I Am Drunk (11)
Special- Yakuza Mussel (18), Killing Me Softly (22), Dope (22), Hamachi Collar (12)
What to drink: BYOB
Thank you for stopping by and checking out the review.
3/31/2016 04:42:53 pm
This was a joy to both read and salivate over!
3/31/2016 04:49:06 pm
Awesome review and excellent read! I enjoyed all of it.
4/1/2016 06:07:22 pm
Thank you for the wonderful review. I love that restaurant!
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Hi, I am Natty! And Thank you for stopping by!! I am a foodie girl who has a passion for cooking, exercise and photography. There are so many favorite recipes from my family and friends I have tried throughout my journey that balances out and makes a healthy meal. I would like to take you on a journey to a different pantry around the world to share my favorite stories and recipes. My hope is that they inspire and benefit you.
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