Guide

9 Chicago Japanese Spots Worth Checking Out

by Fernanda DeSouza

posted on September 18, 2017

Photo Courtesy: Arami

Is there anything better than a hot bowl of ramen on a cool autumn day? Probably not, tbh. Japanese food is beloved across the country and the world for a reason, and in Chicago, there are more than enough places to scratch that particular itch. From traditional to modern, you'll want to sink into these places for sure. Just remember to not rub your chopsticks together and to slurp that miso soup as loudly as you can—it's a polite gesture in Japan after all. Itadakimasu, that is, bon appétit in Japanese.

Sunda

A moody pendant-lit bar gives way to a buzzy, earthy, loft-like dining room where scenesters linger over hip cocktails, top-shelf sake and updated Asian favorites, from crisp-rice sushi to nigiri laced with truffles and seafood longevity noodles.

Checkout: Signature spicy tuna crispy rice, pork bulgogi, crispy Brussels sprouts

Oiistar

Chic and casual Oiistar serves fresh, flavorful ramen and Taiwanese-style steamed buns at a reasonable bang for your buck. From the globally-inspired menu to the pale wood interior, this place might be a window into America's culinary future.

Checkout: Oiimen Ramen, Musclemen, Tikkamen Ramen, tempura cod bun, pork belly bun

Furious Spoon - Wicker Park

Furious Spoon is an homage to chef Shin Thompson's grandfather's ramen-ya, but hipped-up a bit. Take a number and warm up with a comforting bowl of pork-y noodle soup while listening to classic hip hop and sipping an alcoholic slushie.

Checkout: Ramen. rice bowls, draft cocktails, pickles

High Five Ramen

This masculine sixteen seat ramen bar might just be the best place in Chicago to take yourself out for an indulgent solo date. Grab a seat, a beer, some super spicy miso ramen and lose yourself in the intricacies of a simple, good noodle soup.

Checkout: Half spice ramen, High Five ramen, no spice ramen

En Hakkore 2.0

Expect counter-style ordering, communal and intimate table seating and a BYOB policy at this minimalist sushi-burrito mashup serving unconventional hand-helds, bowls, modern rolls and Korean faves in an exposed brick storefront in Wicker Park.

Checkout: Kimchi fries, Korean wings, crunch+fire burrito, bibimbap burrito

Kai Zan

Sidle up to the marble-topped sushi bar or slide into a cozy banquette for artful Japanese plates and beyond-basic sushi at this neighborhood izakaya, complete with BYO policy and views of brothers Melvin and Carlo Vizconde working magic.

Checkout: The omakase menu, escolar or maguro pearls, point-and-pick selection of sashimi and maki

Arami

At Arami you can dine on contemporary sushi, sashimi, tsukemono, and unexpected vegetable-forward small plates in an exposed brick, skylit setting where neighborhood types linger over the sake list and ice cream menu for dessert.

Checkout: Seared tuna togarashi, followed by hamachi carpaccio and torched hokkaido hotate

Tanoshii Sushi Mike's

While the bells and whistles at this beloved sushi spot can be a little grating, if you stick to the traditional offerings like nigiri, sashimi, and simpler specialty rolls, Tanoshii Sushi Mikes is one of your best bets for fresh fish in Chicago.

Checkout: Sashimi, goma-ae, cooked mushroom and escolar makimono

Sushi Dokku

Dark wood accents and two-person sushi bar stools set the tone at this sleek spot, which features a menu of Japanese small plates, artsy maki and sashimi, as well as a solid sake and cocktail list that makes is a great choice for a date.

Checkout: Hot Daisy maki with albacore, masago, spicy mayo, cucumber and lime in soy paper and the Northern California roll featuring fresh and soft shell crab, onion, masago and avocado

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