Red snapper
Bread service
A photo at Yugen
Miso soup

*** (3 stars)

This is a beautiful restaurant in the former Grace space. It’s difficult to avoid comparisons with Grace, since the owner is the same (but not the chef or GM) and the room is mostly unchanged. It’s soft and welcoming.

I was never a huge Grace fan, so I really wanted to like Yugen. The first impression was good, in that the service was cordial and professional, but not the affected robotic dance that Grace was.

The problem is the food. This is one of those restaurants that prepare a ten-course tasting menu of astonishingly beautifully plated dished, but where the plethora of ingredients rarely adds up to more than the individual components. Highlights were the mussel dish and the dessert, and there was nothing that was bad, just a lot of meh.

This is a huge problem, because Yugen is at a similar price point to two and three-star Michelin restaurants like Alinea, or the amazing Oriole, which is just a few blocks away. But there is simply no comparison in the resulting product.

The wine list is good, if expensive. The wine pairing didn’t particularly match the courses, and was one of those comprised of wines sommeliers love because they are made from unusual grapes at good wholesale prices. I’d rather have half as many actual quality wines.

The cocktail list is cute. It’s currently themed to the films of Hayao Miyazaki, and was probably the highlight of the evening.

The nearly empty dining room on a Wednesday night doesn’t bode well for the future of the restaurant, and I just don’t foresee a lot of return business when there are so many high-end options at this price point.

652 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL
(312) 265-1008






Chef B.K. Park

Real wasabi

Fluke, pickle, king crab

Abalone in a smoke-filled bowl

Sashimi: Bree’s, kanpachi, salmon, otoro

Mushroom and crab custard

Scallop nigiri

Golden eye snapper

Fluke with truffle sea salt

Horse mackerel with ginger and chives

Sea bass



Blue mackerel



Flaming red prawn from Argentina

A5 Wagyu

Soy marinated sea water eel

Soy marinated tuna roll

House made Kamago

Marinated Asian pear, kumquat, shiso

Japanese sweet potato with whisky miso cream and caramel

Sake and wine

***** (5 stars)

Even though the restaurant had only been open a few days, Mako provided an amazing food and beverage experience. Easing into it, Chef B.K. Park (Juno) and one other chef worked behind the counter to provide a 21-course omakase for nine lucky guests.

The meal focused on nigiri sushi, presented one piece at a time, but there was also sashimi, a hand roll, and several cooked dished.

Highlights included salmon, fluke, kanpachi, A5 wagyu, a delicious mushroom and crab custard, duck, and an amazing Asian pear and ice kumquat intermezzo.

While the omakase was not cheap, it was well worth the price, and the accompanying wine and sake pairing was masterfu–and an excellent deal.

An auspicious start indeed for this terrific dining experience.

731 W Lake St
Chicago, IL
(312) 988-0687

Radio Anago

Warm miso scallops

Uni flight – Hokaido and Santa Barbara

Fluke sashimi special

Salad Handroll


**** (4 stars)

I held off going to Radio Anago because early reviews said it was very loud, and I want to have a conversation over a meal. But the sound has been lowered to appropriate levels and, as my server put it, “We’re now the restaurant we intended to be.”

And it’s a good restaurant. If you want sushi, and don’t want to sit in a bright space or at a sushi bar, Radio Anago is what you’re looking for. Lighting is subdued, it’s a surprisingly intimate space, and just quite different from other sushi restaurants.

That said, you’re not going to have the best sushi of your life here. A few years ago, this might have been the best sushi in Chicago, but a lot has happened in the past year or two, with impressive omakase experiences opening seemingly every week. So there are lots of higher end sushi offerings, but if you’re looking for an intimate place to have good sushi, Radio Anago is probably the best choice.

Radio Anago
226 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL
(312) 796-3316





Interior and bar

Patrick at the bar


Eggplant dip

Loup de Mer

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p>***** (5 stars)

This brilliant new cocktail bar combines drinks from creative director Julia Momose (GreenRiver, Aviary, Oriole) and food from chef de cuisine Mariya Russell (Oriole). Also involved, of course, are Noah and Cara Sandoval from Oriole, which is almost around the corner.

Oriole earned its Michelin stars in a flash, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some impressive awards coming to Kumiko soon, too.

As at Oriole, your first challenge is to find the place! The unmarked door is at the corner. Your experience begins with a warm greeting and a welcoming beverage (herbal tea the night I was there) at the host stand. Then you are ushered into the intimate dining room with its limited table seating and eight spots at the bar.

The atmosphere is welcoming, refined, and calming, with Japanese influenced simplicity that immediately puts you at ease.

The focus is definitely on cocktails and spirits, with an emphasis on sochu and Japanese whisky. There are also some very interesting rums, and a whole world of aperitifs and exotica.

Patrick, my bartender, was a charming host, and it was a delight watching his meticulous preparation of each drink. The main cocktail list offers a wide range of styles, so I had no trouble finding the bitter and complex flavors I favor. Patrick also helped me choose selections to match the food I ordered.

Speaking of food, the offerings are currently limited to three types of small bites (oysters, prawns, and steam buns), an eggplant dip, and two entrees (loup de mer and short rib).

I started with two of the tempura prawns, which seemed pricey at $8 each, but when they were served I realized we were in Michelin territory. They looked like something you’d find at Oriole, perfectly coated in a delicate tempura and artfully graced with yuzu, mint and edible flowers. Fabulous.

I also had the eggplant dip, which was nothing like I was expecting, but was also excellent. It was served in warm miso, and the primary flavor was of the fresh herbs–especially mint–topping it. The accompanying rice crackers were also wonderful.

My entree was the loup de mer, a delicate fish served with its crispy skin in place, and already sliced into manageable bites perfect for combining with the accompanying ponzu and bok choi. A crunchy mix of furikake (a mixture of dried fish, sesame seeds, and salt) added a great texture.

For dessert I had Japanese milk bread, which is essentially a caramelized French toast served with truffle flakes and ice cream. It was delicious.

The night I was there the omakase tasting was not available, so I wasn’t able to try that, but I’m just as glad I had a chance to explore on my own.

Because there are so many interesting spirits on offer, it’s an ideal place for people who like their drinks neat. I particularly suggest you try the El Dorado 15 year rum aged in dry Madeira casks; it’s a very complex treat.

The combination of great ambiance, perfect service, divine food, and meticulous mixology make Kumiko a winner, for sure.

630 W Lake St
Chicago, IL
(312) 285-2912


El Topo

Peruvian sea scallops

Kanpachi, yellowtail and yellowtail ceviche

Pumpkin spice old fashioned for Thanksgiving!


**** (4 stars)

Very good sushi with a slight Peruvian spin, such as the sauces used for the sashimi preparations. Fish quality was good, and service was friendly. Chill vibe.

3327 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 607-0700

Deep Blue



Chirashi bowl

**** (4 stars)

This place has surprisingly decent sushi for an airport. The interior decor is pleasant; and it’s arranged into two bars, one where the emphasis is drinking, the other for dining. There are also some tables. And of course the mandatory televisions.

All the sushi we had was good, if not cheap (it is, after all, an airport). Be warned, though, that the crudos don’t really match their descriptions (shishito peppers became jalapenos, ingredients were missing) and the ones we tried were both topped with unmentioned olive oil.

Service is pleasant but leisurely, so this is a good choice if you have plenty of time.

Deep Blue
John F Kennedy International Airport
Terminal 5
Jamaica, NY 11464
(866) 508-3558

Yamashiro Hollywood

Samurai roll

Truffle hamachi

Scallop ceviche

Yellowtail and Serrano pepper sashimi




*** (3 stars)

Yamashiro is one of the neatest, most magical spaces in LA. I’ve been coming here for decades for the spectacular view, and the tranquil Japanese courtyard in the center of the building. On each visit, I am amazed at what a great spot it is, and equally amazed that the food never lives up to the promise of the location.

On this visit they were out of: sparkling water, 9 out of ten types of sparkling wine on their wine list, one type of chicken, and Kirin beer. I was beginning to suspect we’d wandered into Monty Python’s cheese shop.

But they did have (nearly) all of the fish on their sashimi menu, and we tried most of them. They were all fine–okay fish quality, and good sauces. Maybe it’s just that we’d been to Sugarfish for lunch the day before, but this sushi was not remarkable, just serviceable.

Our waitress was nice, although totally unfamiliar with the wine list, and seemed a bit shaky on the food, too. Maybe the focus of the business is on selling the fishbowl-sized fruit drinks; they were certainly doing a lot of that.

Still, I’ll no doubt go back. I always do. There’s no place quite like it.

Yamashiro Hollywood
1999 N Sycamore Ave
Hollywood, CA 90068
(323) 466-5125

SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa

Toro hand roll

Yellowtail, scallop, snapper, sea bass

Albacore and salmon

Tuna sashimi



***** (5 stars)

I was afraid this might be all celebrity chef smoke and mirrors, but it was just really great fish quality, really great rice quality, and some subtle sauces coming together to create a fantastic experience.

We went at lunchtime and were lucky to walk in and get a table, as we soon realized the tiny 40-seat space almost always has a line.

We had the Nozawa omakase, which took us from edamame and sashimi through ten pieces of wonderful nigiri, and ended with two superb hand rolls. The standouts were the amazing scallop nigiri (which was the day’s special) and the two hand rolls. Normally handrolls aren’t a favorite of mine because of the high ratio of nori to stuffing, but these were wonderful. The nori was paper thin and had been crisped somehow, and the warm rice and cool stuffing made an amazing combination.

This was just absolutely great sushi. And at $37, the lunch Nozawa omakase is well worth it.

SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa
212 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 276-6900


Green tea pudding

Sashimi (second round of omakase)


Corn custard




***** (5 stars)

There are so many sushi places to choose from on the west side of town, but some are over-priced without delivering a truly high-end experience, and others deliver the experience but only if you let the chef boss you around (eat this like this, don’t put soy sauce on that, etc.)

Hamasaku avoids these pitfalls. The atmosphere is laid back, and the price is great.

I was very impressed with the omakase. There are two basic options, a mostly cooked version, and a sushi option. We opted for the latter, and it was a great choice.

Your meal includes an oyster appetizer, corn custard, two separate plates of seven assorted nigiri (14 total), a complex miso seafood soup and dessert. The nigiri was really excellent, with a great variety of interesting fish, and deftly prepared. At $65 for the complete meal, it was a great deal.

We also opted for the $20 optional sashimi course. It was good, too, but frankly it was superfluous, given all the other excellent fish on the nigiri courses.

Note that the wine list is much more extensive than the version on their website.

The place is a bit tough to find, tucked into the inside corner of a strip mall. It’s simply but nicely decorated. It seats more people than you would guess, but even when full the noise level is fine.

11043 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 479-7636

Yojisan Sushi

Complimentary dessert

Salmon skin roll



Salad and soup

**** (4 stars)

This is a good sushi restaurant offering fairly standard fare in the heart of Beverly Hills. If the prices seem a bit higher than other places it might be due more to the rent than anything extraordinary about it, but the fish is all fresh, and the service is friendly and efficient. There is also a small outdoor seating area that is quite pleasant, an unusual feature in this area.

Yojisan Sushi
260 N Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(424) 245-3799