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My Spring Break Sushi Tour of Chicago

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03/24/2010

My Spring Break Sushi Tour of Chicago photo

‘Tis the season for spring break.  Left and right, nearly everyone I know is heading somewhere, whether they are graduate students heading on exotic vacations or colleagues leaving town for Passover to avoid the stress of de-chametz-ing the kitchen.

I’m not going to Palm Springs, Florida or Israel.  I’ll be spending my glorious four days off from work during the Passover holiday on my couch, and to add insult to injury, my husband is spending his spring break in Japan, quite possibly the most far-away place he could possibly be.

While David is experiencing a “Global Immersion in Management,” schmoozing with Japanese executives (yes, I told him to yell at the Toyota execs about my defective, recalled Camry), I am stuck in Chicago, where the weather is rapidly yo-yoing from 60 degrees and sun to nearly freezing slush coming down sideways.

I decided that if I can’t go to Japan (or anywhere for that matter), I’m bringing Japan to me!  What better way to relish in my favorite carbs before eight days of eating cardboard then two straight weeks of raw fish, seaweed and soy.  And so, the sushi tour was born.

When we lived in Old Town, we always relied on a few regular sushi joints: Cafe Sushi for takeout, Shine when we went out, and the occasional venture to a new place.  In Evanston, the pattern continues – Sashimi Sashimi for takeout, Kansaku when we go out, etc.  David’s temporary disappearance gave me the perfect excuse to scarf down maki after maki with friends.

While the tour is still continuing, I thought I’d share a few favorites and poll the crowd for your recommendations as well.

I started my sushi adventure with a tried and true favorite – Rise.  Now I know that this does not follow my pre-set rules of trying new places, but Rise is never a bad idea.  There is nothing better than Rise’s Honey Roll, and many of their rolls have delicious unique touches, like their Volcano Roll with the surprise sweetness of strawberry wrapped inside.

Last week, I also went to Sushi Wabi in the West Loop.  Having heard only good things about their food, I was more than ready to join fellow Oy! blogger, Ron Krit, for a few rolls after work.  Of course, since Ron is inching toward elderly, we ate at 5:30 p.m. (can you say early bird special?) and had the place nearly to ourselves.  Being that Ron is our resident fitness fanatic, I was concerned that he would avoid anything with sauce or lecture me about brown rice and whole grains, but that was not the case at all.

We started with this incredible sashimi appetizer of tuna with truffle salt and avocado that just melted in your mouth.  Heaven.  And then we split several rolls that came out one at a time, and each one was better than the next.  Not only that, but the presentation was stunning.  I would share photos but someone (my darling husband) ran off with my camera and is letting it sit in his backpack in Japan, most likely unused.

No sense stopping there.  If David can spend five grand on a two week trip to Japan, I have rationalized that a couple hundred dollars over the course of two weeks would not break my bank.  This week, I hit two local sushi hot spots that somehow I had managed never to visit before: Wakamono on Broadway and Butterfly on Grand.

Monday and Tuesday night were both long leisurely dinners with great friends who introduced me to their favorite haunts.  I’m no Stacey Ballis but in the effort to blog about food, I’ll just say this: both restaurants are definitely worth a visit, if you haven’t already been (I think I may be the only one).  In the world of BYOB sushi, they are both top notch.

Now after four nights of Japanese cuisine in a seven day period, you think I’d be over it.  Not a chance.  Tonight, I’ll be heading to Toro Sushi in Lincoln Park with another Oy! blogger, Jacey, and if the reviews are indicative of the quality of tonight’s dinner, I know I’ll be content (and hopefully not full to the point of feeling ill – my constant fear).

Tomorrow night is still open – not sure where I’ll visit or with who.  But I’d love your suggestions – what is your favorite Japanese restaurant in Chicago?

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