Thursday, June 28, 2012

yusho - chicago, il
2853 north kedzie avenue
chicago, il 60618

aside from our extended tasting at l2o, the meal i was most looking forward to on this chicago trip was definitely yusho. located in avondale, yusho is the recently opened japanese street food inspired restaurant from former charlie trotter's chef de cuisine matthias merges. i suppose after 14 years of working in a super stuffy fine dining environment merges was ready for a change...but about a complete departure from the restaurant he called home for almost a decade and a half. thinking that such a dramatic changing of gears must mean that chef merges has an incredible amount of passion for this new project, i had a feeling that bumping yusho ahead of the publican and the bristol in my small plates restaurant queue would be a good idea.
with reservations made via yusho's own online booking system, carrie and i arrived right at 5pm. and basically had the place to ourselves. walking past the long bar and open kitchen we were seated in the back dining room which features exposed brick walls, an eclectic mix of light fixtures and chairs, and even a film projector showing japanese movies. the menu at yusho is strictly small plates, with roughly 25 choices ranging from $3.25-$18. for drinks, the main focus is cocktails crafted by one time trotter's assistant sommelier alex bachman, however an interesting selection of beer, wine, sake is also available. there will unfortunately be no dish by dish breakdown this time as i do not take notes during meals and simply too much time has passed for me to accurately do justice to what was eaten.
new culture - redemption rye, rhubarb, lemon, vermouth di torino, abbot's bitters
paloma on draught - tequila, mezcal, grapefruit
tuna - taro root, pine nuts, breakfast radish
chicken skin - japanese mustard, garlic, togarashi
octopus - haricot vert, egg yolk, enoki mushrooms
duck breast - hon shemeji mushrooms, scallion
three arrows - whipper snapper whiskey, barolo chinato, fenugreek bitters
cate's esters - lemon hart demerara rum, lime, cane sugar, orange and myrrh bitters
takoyaki - salmon roe, chile, bonito, scallion
2x fried chicken - kanzuri, matcha, lime
sweetbreads - umeboshi bbq sauce, frisee, toasted soy beans
foie gras - kabocha squash, kombu, honey
soft serve - green cardamom, rhubarb, toffee
mochi - ginger, dark chocolate, kaffir lime
kalamansi - peanut, coriander

given the number of dishes we sampled it may sound silly for me to say that there simply were no duds, but it is the honest truth. each and every offering was well prepared and the flavors were spot on, often being unlike anything i had ever tasted before. the progression of the meal was very logical with the lighter dishes coming out first and the pacing was perfect as there were never more than three plates on the table at a time. the dessert menu doesn't look very exciting on paper but nevertheless we ordered all three choices and trust me when i say the sweets at yusho are not to be missed. if you are on the fence about visiting yusho, i urge you to give it a shot as i honestly could not have been happier with my meal there and can't wait to go back again someday to see how the place has progressed. 
Yusho on Urbanspoon

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