Life happens, sushi helps.
As Saturday, June 18, is international sushi day it feels like the right time to round up the very best spots to enjoy sushi in Chicago! There are few foods that provide so much joy yet don’t come with a little niggling guilt regarding their health consequences. Sushi is one of those rarities that is not only wonderfully tasty but it’s also great for your mind and body!
With seaweed, wasabi, ginger, fish, rice, and more sushi is jam-packed full of goodness. As well as being low in calories for anybody watching their weight and providing protein for those hitting the gym regularly, sushi offers a great dose of antioxidant properties, calcium, iron, and numerous vitamins.
Omega 3 fatty acids (aka brain food) are good for memory function and other mental abilities while Nori (the outer layer of seaweed) is also one of the best sources of B12 vitamins which we use for energy. What’s not to like? Sushi is just shrimply the best! (sorry).
Here are our top 10 places in Chicago to indulge yourself in the wonders of sushi with particular emphasis on some of Chicago’s best omakase experiences which leaves it all up to the chef. Let the good times roll!
1. Lawrence Fish Market
With many of the recommendations on this list being somewhat extravagant and expensive options, we’re going to start off with the most affordable. Lawrence Fish Market is a takeout-only spot in Albany Park but it has terrific sushi at incredibly good prices. The market has been around for over 40 years and offers a wide range of sushi options from $1 and up.
Single sushi and sashimi options here cost anywhere from $1-$3 a piece while the cheapest maki tray including 5 rolls and 31 pieces costs $23 and an 86-piece sushi tray for 7-12 people at $300 is the most expensive option on the menu. A sushi and maki tray is one of the best bets with 16 pieces of nigiri, a California roll, and a spicy tuna roll costing just $25.
Bear in mind that Lawrence Fish Market is cash only so make sure to hit up an ATM beforehand!You can find the full Lawrence Fish Market menu here.
Address: 3920 W. Lawrence Ave, Chicago
Many of you might be familiar with Sushi Mike, and if you’re not, a welcome message on Tanoshii’s website reading “this is the official site of legendary Chicago sushi chef Mike Ham, better known as Sushi Mike” will quickly give you something of an idea.
You’ll want to name your price, describe your likes and dislikes, and allow Sushi Mike to work his magic here as many of his local customers do, and you’ll soon understand what all the fuss is about.
The West Loop restaurant is large but relaxed with a wide-ranging menu, fantastic service, and first-class sushi. Single pieces of nigiri and sashimi are $3-$8 a piece here while various sushi combo selections cost $35 for 10 pieces.You can find the full Tanoshii menu here.
Address: 5547 N. Clark Street, Chicago
Lincoln Park’s Juno is one sushi joint not short of accolades and has been named one of the best sushi bars in the United States on more than one occasion. After closing due to a fire in 2014, the restaurant came back bigger and better.
Renowned sushi chef B.K. Park is one of the most prolific sushi chefs in the country and provides expertly-created sushi at mostly reasonable prices at Juno. The food comes creatively plated and beautifully put together. It’s sleek, scrumptious, and reliable.
The nigiri and sashimi options here are predominantly $4 or $5 while the Chef’s Selection of Sashimi made up of 16 pieces is $56 and the Chef’s Selection of Nigiri made up of 9 pieces is $42.You can find the full Juno menu here.
Address: 2638 North Lincoln Ave, Chicago
Of course, though we don’t like to repeat restaurants with the same owner, we do now have to mention Chef B.K. Park’s latest Chicago-based passion project – Mako. Here B.K. Park’s sushi magic earned him Michelin Star status just 6 months after opening.
The extensive omakase menu here is $175 a head for 15 courses and an optional beverage pairing for a further $95 but if you’re serious about sushi, you certainly won’t be leaving disappointed.
The small West Loop restaurant seats 22 in total with bar space for 12 and a dining room that can fit 10. You’ll spend three hours sampling some of the finest sushi you’ll ever experience in a nature-driven interior setup.
Address: 731 West Lake Street, Chicago
Frequently named one of the best restaurants in Chicago, Momotaro prides itself on its focus on “tightly executed cuisine and highly personal service” to provide one of the best mixes of traditional and contemporary Japanese dining experiences available in Chicago.
Chef Gene Kato is the mastermind behind this upscale Japanese restaurant in the vibrant Fulton Market District. Though there is far more than just sushi at Momotaro, an entire menu page is devoted to various nigiri, sashimi, and makimono options, all of which are exquisite.
Most of the nigiri and sashimi options are $6 or $7 while the larger-sized options like the Chef’s Seasonal Nigiri Selection and the Chef’s Seasonal Sashimi Selection cost $70 and $80 respectively.You can find the full Momotaro menu here.
Address: 820 W Lake Street, Chicago
6. Kai Zan
Kai Zan is another sushi Shangri-la in Chicago to have earnt Michelin recognition. Established in 2012, this hidden gem in Humboldt Park has been consistently placed in the Chicago Michelin guide over the last decade earning the Michelin Bib Gourmand staple for exceptional food at moderate prices.
The brainchild of twin brothers Melvin & Carlo Vizconde, the menu is full of opportunities to pick out a few different things or branch out away from sushi altogether. Speak to any fan of Kai Zan, however, and you’ll almost definitely be pointed towards the omakase dinner experience here.
For $85 Chefs Melvin and Carlo will spoil you with an array of flavors and innovative creations. You’ll find few places with such an exceptional and generous omakase experience at this kind of price.
There is also a Vegetarian Nigiri Assortment of 5 pieces of delicious and thoughtfully created vegetarian nigiri for just $15 as well as 8 pieces of Flaming Tuna Maki for $17 or 8 pieces of Green Monster Maki for $19.
Address: 2557 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
Unlike many others on this list, River North’s Sushi-san is far from an elegant, upscale dining experience. This is much more of a laid-back spot but the prices reflect as much and the sushi is up there with any other you’ll find in Chicago.
It’s the San-sets you’ll want to try out here. Through a direct partnership with the Yamasaki family at the Toyosu fish market, San-sets rely on daily deliveries making it some of the freshest fish and seafood available in the Midwest.
San-sets range from $17 for the ‘Edomae Vegetable’ set which consists of 4 nigiri, 2 gunkan, and 8 maki to the $105 ‘Megatron – This Is Serious’ set made up of 12 nigiri, 12 sashimi, and 2 rolls. Though there also sets in between these priced $30-$55.You can find the Sushi-san menu here.
Address: 63 W. Grand Ave, Chicago
Chef Sangtae Park is the veteran sushi artist behind the intimate Omakase Yume. Moving to Chicago from his native coastal hometown of Busan, South Korea, Chef Sangtae spent years at various highly-rated Japanese restaurants in the area before opening his dream omakase-focused sushi restaurant in the West Loop called Omakase Yume (yume translates to “dream”).
This omakase adventure offers a particularly unique “chef’s choice” dining experience with the contents changing regularly based on Sangtae Park’s whims. You can do a lot worse than placing your trust in Sangtae, however, who never fails to impress. A 16-course menu for $185 includes appetizers, daily sushi prepared by the chef, and dessert with a great emphasis on quality and the best product.
This is an omakase-only restaurant and only 16 guests are served each evening so if you want to experience this you’ll have to reserve in advance.
Address: 651 W Washington Blvd, Chicago
Despite all the extraordinary sushi experiences on this list, few can rival the speakeasy adventure of Sushi Suite 202. At this intriguing omakase extravaganza in Hotel Lincoln, the concierge will hand you the key to an exclusive dining suite where you’ll settle into a cozy 500-square-foot space with a delicate Japanese interior and a six-seat stone cocktail bar.
What follows is an unforgettable 17-course 60-minute omakase sushi dining experience courtesy of Chef Jordan Dominguez. Guests can watch on as he makes his sushi masterpieces in front of your eyes in your own personal suite. The experience costs $149 per person but for what you get that’s not much at all.You can find the Sushi Suite 202 menu here.
Address: 1816 N Clark St, Chicago
Logan Square’s Kyōten is a strictly reservation-only private sushi experience and again it’s omakase-only. At an intimate eight-seat sushi counter Chef Otto creates and explains over 20 dishes made from some of the world’s greatest ingredients from Japan and beyond.
The total menu price is $440 per person Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday but $490 per person on Fridays and Saturdays.
*The Kyōten menu is in constant motion, depending on what best ingredients are available at that moment.*
Address: 2507 W Armitage, Chicago
[Featured image from Unsplash / Gonzalo Mendiola]