I'm the sort that craves sushi and will eat it several times a week if that craving is in the house. And my little 'entertainment fund' has definitely taken many hits in the past 10 years due to this craving.
And, like all sushi cravings should be, mine is limited to good sushi. Fresh sashimi that tastes like the sea and melts in my mouth. Simple maki with spicy mayo folded into the chopped up maguro. And specialty rolls that are creative but don't have an 'everything but the kitchen sink' type feel. I've also been known to knock back an oyster shooter or two.
I live in the Old Town/Gold Coast area and for 5 years was extremely fortunate to have Tsunami in my neighborhood. This was not a trendy see and be seen restaurant (I'm okay with Mirai, Sunda and Japonais, but they're a little scene-y for me on a Tuesday night). Instead it was a simple restaurant with friendly sushi chefs and outstanding pieces of fish. I would belly up to the sushi bar about 3-6 times month and happily pay the steep bill at the end of my meal. When I returned from L.A. last fall I found this place boarded up and closed. Rumor has it that the landlord hiked up the price on the lease. With tears in my eyes, I stood on Dearborn and Division not knowing where to turn. Where to go? What to eat?
Also last year, I discovered Kaze Sushi in Roscoe Village. I loved this place. It was a clean and simple look with a very creative approach and fresh fresh fish. The article that was written about it in Bon Appetit helped lure us there one night and we returned several times. In fact, we tried to go for Valentine's Day on Sunday night after returning from a trip, but it is closed, too! Oh, despair.
So we headed down to the West Loop to Meiji a place that we hadn't tried, but had seemed to get good reviews. We were the ONLY ones in the restaurant. On Valentine's Day. Red Flag. We ordered a few starters, including a few pieces of sashimi. My maguro looked bad and tasted worse. My heart sunk. I'd been craving sushi and this fish was terrible. Nate encouraged me to try the hamachi. Also bad. We sent our food back and left, never to return again.
We hustled down the street to Sushi Wabi. We don't usually go here because it is so loud, but the music was more relaxed that night and they seated us right away at the sushi bar. Sushi Wabi is a dependable restaurant that has had years of success. We hadn't eaten since brunch in Minneapolis and we were starving. We had a fantastic meal with the highlight being the spicy shrimp.
Another upside to the meal is that the woman next to me heard me lamenting to Nate about the loss of Kaze Sushi and Tsunami. She informed me that the Tsunami chef might be at Kin Sushi a small sushi and Thai outfit. And she also shared with me that the Chef Macku Chan, who was the executive chef at Kaze, is now at Macku Sushi in Lincoln Park.
They're on my list. My short list.