The Rise of Sushi Yeezus

I did not expect things at the restaurant to start out like a Viagra ad. Me: “It’s ok. It happens.” Chef: “Not to me it doesn’t. I don’t think that has ever happened.” Advertisements


Static on the Radio

When I first walked in to Green Street Smoked Meats, I remember telling owner Brendan Sodikoff to fuck off.


The good news is the restaurant ceiling didn’t fall on my head. When I dine at chef Iliana Regan’s restaurants, weird things happen. When I reviewed Regan’s Elizabeth, I went to the restroom, and when I closed the door, ceiling tiles fell on my head. I didn’t mind. The tiles were soft and I was so buzzed on the foraged pre-fixe meal (and, to be honest, a little too much Hermitage blanc wine), I wouldn’t have felt pain anyway. That night, Regan and her crew were very gracious and apologized for the mishap. Regan and I had a good laugh about this when we spoke last week about her new spot, Kitsune, a Japanese-skewing restaurant in North Center. “I think the bones of this place are much more solid,” she said

Naoki Sushi

I have reached peak taco status. The same goes for steak, pad thai and pulled pork. Even if all of the restaurants that specialize in these foods closed tomorrow, I’d still be golden. I’ve been to the mountaintop and back—and back up again. You may think this is sacrilegious, and I understand. In case you’re wondering, there’s no such thing as peak fried chicken or pizza status. The same goes for really good sushi

Lure Izakaya

Death and food are inextricably linked. Sure, food sustains you, but if you eat too much of the wrong thing—I’m looking at you, Halloween-themed Burger King Whopper—it could kill you. The basis for any good wake is usually an incredible dinner spread. Heck, the Mormons have a special dish for the occasion called funeral potatoes. Some even contemplate what their final death-row meal would be. Last-meal desires have a wide range. But they’re usually characterized in two ways: nostalgic desires for Mom’s meatloaf and ziti or a tendency for luxurious things such as wine, truffles and foie gras.

Furious Spoon

Chef Shin Thompson has always seemed to be ahead of the curve. To me, his food seems as detailed and thoughtful as the work of a super-chef like Curtis Duffy of Grace, but, unlike Duffy, major success has eluded him. Bonsoiree was one of Chicago’s first underground restaurants, and his next restaurant, Kabocha, was a unique attempt at fusing upscale Japanese flavor with a French brasserie spirit. “We didn’t have a very clear vision [at Kabocha,]” Thompson said. “That’s why I’m trying to be so focused with Furious Spoon.” Unlike Kabocha or Bonsoiree, Thompson’s new noodle joint in Wicker Park is almost behind the curve, following a flurry of ramen restaurants: Strings, Ajida, Ramen-san, High Five Ramen and Oiistar, the latter of which is only a few blocks away from Furious Spoon. I stopped in to Furious Spoon recently to see if a calculated and focused late arrival to the Japanese noodle party would pay off—or if it would be a tiny splash in an already crowded pool

Izakaya Mita

The jury is out on whether Jay Cutler is going to get his act together anytime soon. And so, the 1985 Chicago Bears continue to loom large as one of the greatest Chicago sports teams ever. For those of you who sported headbands like Jim McMahon as a kid or still rock that No. 34 Walter “Sweetness” Payton jersey on the weekends, you’ll likely want to check out the new Bucktown Japanese spot Izakaya Mita for its vintage Bears connection.


Restaurateurs Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm of The Boka Restaurant Group have quite the collection of successful restaurants, from the crispy pig-faced glory of Girl & the Goat to the bustling raw bar at GT Fish & Oyster. But even before they opened their very first spot, Boka in 2003, they’ve been dreaming of opening a Japanese restaurant. Planning a restaurant for that long can be both a blessing and a curse. The devil (or akuma, as they say in Japanese) is in the details. After recruiting two chefs to bring their vision to life—Mark Hellyar to handle the hot dishes and Jeff Ramsey for sushi—Momotaro opened last week in the West Loop. I stopped in to see how this dream of more than a decade in the making shaped up.

Ramen Reviews

Bowls of ramen are like snowflakes: no two are alike. At least that’s what many owners and chefs of Chicago ramen-focused spots told me.