Radio Anago is permanently closed
Japanese in River North
- Perfect for
- Date Night
- Drinking Good Cocktails
- Impressing Out of Towners
- Late Night Eats
- People Watching
- Quiet Meals
- Special Occasions
Before having dinner at Radio Anago, you need to know two things: where to get some night vision goggles, and what to order. We’re kidding about that first one (although it is very dark - more on that later), but we’re serious about the second. This is the kind of place that definitely succeeds in creating an impressive atmosphere, and as long as you stick with the dishes they do well, you’ll enjoy it.
First, let’s talk about the space. The entrance is inside Sawada Matcha, a brightly lit coffee shop, but Radio Anago is incredibly dark (there’s a heavy curtain separating the two, and the difference between them is dramatic). It’s full of comfy chairs and big velvet booths, and there’s a well-curated playlist with just enough bass to vibrate your seat. Each table even has its own little lamp, so you won’t be blinding everyone with the flashlight on your phone (unless you want to). These things all create a compelling environment you’ll want to spend a few hours in. If you’ve ever eaten at Au Cheval or Bavette’s (both owned by the people who opened Radio Anago), elements of this place - like the dim lighting and cushy seats - will feel familiar.
But the food isn’t all as successful. There are definitely hits, and we’ll start with those: the wagyu tartare with sesame oil and miso is well-seasoned, and the light and fluffy pork buns are made with a delicious pork belly that will remind you of the bacon on Au Cheval’s burger. The tuna poke with avocado is tasty, and the wasabi dressing gives it a nice amount of spice. The sushi rolls are also very good - especially one with warm miso scallop, and another with plum, cucumber, and refreshing shiso leaf. Each of the above things deserves to be on your table.
The nigiri, however, is a problem. Starting with the rice, which falls apart, sometimes before it even gets to the table. Pieces are frequently made with too much wasabi and/or sesame oil, and the seafood is inconsistently cut - coming out either uneven or too thick. So if nigiri is what you want, you’re better off going somewhere else.
We’re also not sold on the Houji fried chicken. It’s gimmicky - the chicken is topped with edible gold and served with matching gold scissors for cutting - and the meat is over-fried and greasy. At $26, it’s also the most expensive thing here. It’s not worth your time, or the potential grease stains.
There are plenty of reasons to go to Radio Anago. It’s intimate enough for date night, and it works really well for a fun dinner with a few friends. Half the menu is great. But you can’t come and expect everything to be well-executed, you shouldn’t eat here if you just want a lot of really good nigiri. Focus on the dishes that work, settle into the atmosphere, and have fun watching people try not to bump into stuff.
If you want an appetizer that takes five seconds to eat, you might like this. It’s a $9 shot of uni, yuzu, and ponzu, and it tastes fine.
Steamed Pork Buns
The buns are light and fluffy, and the pork belly is glazed with a hoisin sauce. These are fantastic.
This tartare is dressed with sesame oil, and mixed with seaweed and Asian pear. The garam masala taro chips that come on the side are a little sweet, and complement it perfectly.
This poke is tasty. It’s made with a wasabi dressing that adds some spice, and it’s served with the same garam masala taro chips as the wagyu tartare.
Salmon Deluxe Roll
You should get this roll. It has a good ratio of crunchy tempura bits to avocado inside, and it’s topped with tobiko.
Warm Miso Scallop Roll
Another great roll, filled with buttery scallop and topped with a generous amount of spicy mayo. It’s rich, but it’s absolutely delicious.
Cucumber And Plum Roll
You should order this even if you aren’t vegetarian. It’s filled with pickled plum, cucumber, and shiso leaf, and it’s a light, tasty break in between bites of the heavier rolls.
Spicy Tuna Roll
Nothing more or less than a very good spicy tuna roll (the fish is mixed with spicy mayo and tobiko).
You should skip the nigiri here for a few reasons. The rice falls apart when you pick it up, and individual pieces often have too much wasabi and/or sesame oil. Plus, the preparation of the seafood is inconsistent - we’ve had too-thick octopus, rubbery spot prawn, and unevenly cut salmon and tuna.
Houji Fried Chicken
The boneless thighs in this are greasy and over-fried, and the batter is strangely flavorless. We’re pretty sure it’s not meant to be taken too seriously (it’s dusted with edible gold and served with gold scissors), but it’s $26, and it’s not very good.
Big Fluffy Coconut Cake
The name here is misleading, because this is not at all fluffy - it’s actually very dense. The icing is also overly sweet. But it is indeed big, so we’ll give them that.
Matcha Soft Serve
Smooth and creamy ice cream with the perfect amount of matcha flavor. This is what you should order for dessert.