TAO Chicago

Special dessert stout cake with chocolate soft serve

$99 omakase

Eight 8 Greens Fried Rice

Interior

Interior

Interior

Exterior

Satay of Chilean Sea Bass with miso

**** (4 stars)

Obviously, TAO is stunning. It’s probably the most impressive dining room I’ve been in, and that is steep competition. Of course, that makes one all the more suspicious that the food and service don’t need to live up to the decor. I’m pleased to say that was not the case, and I came away from TAO a fan.

I went at opening on a Sunday because I wanted a quieter environment and to avoid the club scene that develops next door later in the evening. And indeed, it was a reasonable noise level until near the end of my meal.

The compact wine list has some nice choices, including a stellar Gruner Veltliner that was wonderful with my first course, a miso crusted satay of Chilean Sea Bass (okay, Patagonian Toothfish if you want to be pedantic). It was probably my favorite item of the whole meal.

The other dish I really loved was the 8 greens fried rice, a succulent blend of veggies that I had to push away from myself to keep from finishing the whole bowl!

Tao is kind of expensive, so I ordered the largest omakase figuring it wouldn’t be all that big. I should have known I was in trouble when my waiter suggested I change tables so he’d have room to put it down! I ended up at the under-used sushi bar on a corner for four people. Holy cow that was a lot of fish for $99! Two people would have been pressed to finish it.

The various sashimi slices were good, but the highlight was the nigiri assortment, each topped with a different relish or pepper. I was less enthusiastic about the specialty rolls, which both had an almost pureed inside consistency. The “tacos” also seemed superfluous. But I would definitely get nigiri sushi here again.

Service was friendly and attentive.

I highly recommend TAO if you’re looking for wow factor, and the food is almost as good as the decor.

TAO Chicago
632 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL
60654
(224) 888-0388
https://www.yelp.com/biz/tao-chicago-chicago-2

Jellyfish

Interior

Tuna tartare

Spicy crab mini tacos

Banging sweet Thai chili chicken

Spicy salmon, kiss of fire, black diamond

*** (3 stars)

Jellyfish is divided into two distinct spaces. The inside is a long bar with facing booths. The bar is backlit with a spectacular wall of sliced geodes, and the blue lightning is very cool. Then there’s a sort of outside space that is like a solarium, with a glass ceiling that lets in the sun. It’s like sidewalk dining, but indoors.

The highlights here are the small plates, both cold and hot.

Our favorite was the tuna tartare, which was served on very tasty guacamole, accompanied by wonton chips.

The mini crab tacos were also very good.

We also tried the “bangin'” chicken with a sweet Thai chili sauce, which was fine but not remarkable.

Much of the menu consists of sushi, of course. Prices seem very high, with each individual piece of fish costing about $5. There was nothing we observed about the quality of the fish that seemed to justify the premium.

We opted for three rolls: spicy tuna, kiss of fire, and black diamond. All were fine, but none were that magic combination of flavors that would qualify them as “signature” rolls, as listed.

Service was good, as it should have been, since we were alone during Sunday at lunch. I suppose this is due to the second floor location, which makes it a bit non-obvious to the casual traffic on the busy street below.

Jellyfish
1009 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 660-3111
https://www.yelp.com/biz/jellyfish-chicago-2