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“Let’s go for sushi” is one of the most common phrases uttered between my friends and I – as well as just me to myself – at any given time. However, Chicago is home to loads of places for sushi. From the little neighborhood gems, to fusion cafes, to Asian restaurants, Chicago can be overwhelming when picking a sushi spot. I wanted to highlight and feature four of my favorite places for the city’s finest sushi, downtown Chicago edition. While they aren’t all necessarily in the loop, they are all in the city proper. These restaurants are all primarily known for sushi and lean toward the pricier side, but they are absolutely worth it. Besides, you can plan with a few at home meals and save up. With each profile, you’ll find a must-have dish, or two, from each restaurant, how much I spent, and what makes it some of the finest sushi in downtown Chicago.
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1829 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
With its quiet vibe and outdoors-but-you’re-indoors look, Arami is one of my favorite places to grab a solo dinner. Yes, it is technically sushi in West Town and not sushi downtown Chicago, but it’s close enough. Their sushi is always fresh and their robata items are small enough that when dining alone, it’s easy to try a wide variety of dishes.
Must have dish(es): Toro Tartare Bite (pictured above) & Pork Belly Robata Skewer
How much I spent: ~$80
What makes it one of the best spots for sushi in downtown Chicago: The daily specials – the hamachi belly nigiri and uni quail egg nigiri (pictured above) were unbelievably fresh and delicious.
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226 W. Kinzie Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Many a restaurant for sushi in downtown Chicago comes and goes. Radio Anago opened within the last six months in River North and has been on my list to try since day one. Guests enter through a bright matcha shop to reach a dim dining room with an incredible, albeit limited, menu. A few pointers for diners at Radio Anago: they don’t take reservations so be prepared to dine early or wait a while. My friends and I met at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday evening and were seated immediately. When we left, however, the waiting area in the matcha shop was filling up. Also, be sure to check out the unexpected surprise in the back of the restaurant near the restrooms.
Must have dish(es): King Crab Roll & Houji Fried Chicken (pictured above)
How much I spent: $110+
What makes it one of the best spots for sushi in downtown Chicago: Presentation and service. The Houji fried chicken, pictured above, is dusted in edible gold. Instead of using a knife to cut, diners are provided elegant gold craft shears to portion it out. The staff was attentive and warm to all guests, providing insight into the menu and complimentary matcha gogo shots before we left.
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990 N. Mies Van Der Rohe Way, Chicago, IL 60611
Walking distance from my home, Mirai Sushi is sushi in downtown Chicago located in the Gold Coast. There is also a second location in Wicker Park. It is a small spot with refined dishes and some of the freshest sushi I have ever tasted. In the small dining room, I noticed that I wasn’t the only solo diner enjoying my meal on a rainy Monday night. In fact, there were three other singles down the line at the sushi bar. Parking is tough around Mirai but its proximity to so many Chicago hotels makes it a great spot for tourists as well as locals. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly to guests who aren’t sure exactly what to order.
Must have dish(es): Hirame Ponzu, pictured above, and nigiri. I opted for chu-toro & uni quail egg
How much I spent: ~$105
What makes it one of the best spots for sushi in downtown Chicago: Quality of fish. The hirame shown above was one of the most delicate fish dishes I have ever tried. My nigiri was so delicious that I ordered a second round of it to close my meal.
2557 W. Chicago Street, Chicago, IL 60622
I couldn’t wait to return to Kai Zan. It had been at least three years since I had last eaten here. For sushi lovers with no restrictions, I highly recommend their omakase experience. I have done it in the past but this time around, opted to order a la carte with a few friends. Getting a table at Kai Zan is not difficult if you plan your reservation ahead of time. Due to high demand, they maintain a firm, yet reasonable, dining time allotted for your meal. That way, they can accommodate as many guests as possible in one evening. If you do go a la carte like I did, I also suggest chatting with your waiter or a friend who has visited in the past. Why? Because many of their best items are not on the regular menu.
Must have dish(es): Uni Toro Tartare (featured photo and arguably the tastiest dish in the city of Chicago) & “Steak & Eggs” (pictured above)
How much I spent: $100
What makes it one of the best spots for sushi in downtown Chicago: The specials. One of the reasons Kai Zan is a favorite for Chicago sushi aficionados is because there are a handful of delectable items that are not on the regular menu. The staff is well-versed in all the daily specials, but it helps to get a few tips from a friend so as to avoid being overwhelmed by all the options. Both my “must haves” were daily specials.
What is Your Favorite Spot for Sushi in Downtown Chicago?
I could highlight many more of Chicago’s finest sushi spots, but these four places are standout, can’t miss spots. What are your favorites and when are we going to try them together?