We've talked about the different levels of sushi restaurants before. On one end of the spectrum, there's the cheap spot you put up with for delivery even though you know it's not great. On the other end is the excellent and expensive place you can't afford, but you eat at anyway on a weekend or special occasion.
And then there's the elusive middle of the road sushi restaurant - solid and reasonably priced. You don't have to go out of your way to eat at these restaurants, but if it's mid-week and you want sushi nearby, these are the spots to go.
We're generally into simple sushi that tastes great, and you can get a bit of that here in the form of straightforward sashimi and nigiri. But if you like absurd rolls like yellowtail with sautéed banana pepper and Japanese black peppers, who are we to say no. Macku is good to get a little weird during the week.
There aren't too many neighborhood type spots on Rush St. in the Gold Coast, but we'll always have Friends. From the outside, it looks like a little decrepit building with a random sushi sign out front. But inside, it's a hip Japanese sushi lounge.
Sushi Dokku does a good job of catering to all needs - straightforward sashimi and nigiri, interesting combinations like a hamachi nigiri with grapefruit and black lava sea salt, plus the "Godzilla" roll you might crave. The prices aren't ridiculous though, and that's the best part.
Before Tanoshii went all Hollywood with Tanoshii Sushi Mike's in their fancy new West Loop location, it was a simple sushi restaurant in Andersonville. So definitely go to the location up north for a more low-key meal. Try one of the creative chef's choice rolls, which often come with a light truffle sauce that's good but not overbearing. Don't forget it's BYOB.
Mirai is the one spot here that we would probably go out of the way for. It consistently serves great sushi and is good for everything from a midweek meal to a Saturday night date. The kicker is it's not expensive at all.
Cheap prices, a sleek inside, and a BYOB policy make Coast the sushi equivlanet of an NBA stretch power forward. Coast is like Draymond Green - it can work both the low-post and the perimeter. Non-basketball fan translation: it's versatile, and you can come here for a variety of reasons - a date, a weekday dinner, or weekend group outings with your friends.
The stretch of Clark between Fullerton and Belmont is the undisputed king of cheap eats. But there are also a lot of places that aren't good, so you best know what you're getting yourself into. If sushi is what you want, check out Toro, because it won't disappoint.
Don't worry people of Old Town, we won't leave you hanging. While the majority of the neighborhood is full of different variations of the same sports bars, there are a few different restaurants scattered throughout Wells St. Kamehachi is one of them, and it's the easy sushi move in these parts.
If you're going to name yourself after the famous Tokyo fish market, then you better be a respectable restaurant. And while Tsukiji the restaurant isn't serving million dollar tuna that's been auctioned off in Japan, they pass our respectability test, particularly for the casual occasion.
Kyoto may have moved to a new location, but it didn't go far. And while it might look a little nicer on the inside than it used to, it still has those familiar Lincoln Park feels. Nothing makes you feel like a local more than having your go-to sushi spot, and that's what Kyoto still does for us.
Looking for traditional rolls simply prepared? That's not Yuzu. Instead, come for the massive rolls and the crazy artistic work that often accompanies them. A giant Dragon Roll with shrimp tempura, avocado, and unagi sounds generic, but then it shows up with a preposterous dragon drawn out of food-colored spicy mayo. It's a little crazy, but no doubt looks cool, and overall all Yuzu makes for a good time.
Good sushi, good value, and a nice little patio in River North. You know where else you can get that kind of thing in River North? Nowhere, and that's why Sushi Naniwa is on our radar.
You might be thinking, "hey, Wasabi is that ramen restaurant halfway between Wicker Park and Logan Square." And you would be right. But Wasabi also has a full sushi menu that's good. Bonus points for sushi and ramen together like one big modern family.