I find it hard (and vaguely pornographic) to describe individual dishes in much detail, but if I can just manage it with sole meuniere or a steak taco, the thing I really don’t feel I can do it with is sushi—I like good sushi, but describing it? Explaining how texture A is better than texture B? I feel like a kid who didn’t read the assignment having to write a paper anyway. On Thomas Hardy or peptide nucleic acids.

I mention this because the latest reviews in Chicago magazine are about sushi—but nobody tries writing 1500 words on one restaurant. Instead, it’s an overview of what’s new on our suddenly high end sushi scene, with emphasis on places like Kyoten, Jinsei Motto and Mako:

Yes, there are some crimes being committed in the name of omakase today, but they’re the mere byproduct of grand developments on the sushi front. More good and (finally!) great sushiyas have opened here recently, and they are all doing what they can to stand out: Some with tuna so fatty it melts on your tongue like chocolate. Others with actual chocolate. One, Kyoten, claims (rightly so, in my opinion) to be at a national level.

The “package” (as magazine people call such things) has several approaches. John Kessler starts with the fishy creme de la creme, the high end omakase scene, finding that too-good-for-Michelin Kyoten is the jawdropper on a suddenly broad scene:

Every piece is dressed to pair it to the rice; he mitigates but doesn’t cover the ferric edge of bonito, and he contrasts brined uni with crisp nori to make you think anew about its flavor. Sitting at his sushi bar, you realize you’re experiencing something that is happening nowhere else in the world. You’re eating a fish that has been caught, cut, and seasoned in such a way as to create a jolt between your tongue and your brain, and for a startling moment, taste is the sensation of life itself.

For more everyday pleasures, he orders a few basic pieces at different spots, and finds a worthy standout at Arami (I went along for much of this one, and agree that Arami and Sushi Dokku offer good value for money, but Nobu is a sucker bet). There’s also a meet-your-sushi-chef guide, a comparison of five top omakase spots, and more; see the full package here.


I was just mentioning how I was kind of burned out on tonkotsu ramen and here comes Nick Kindelsperger with another place doing gyukotsu-style ramen with beef, Monster Ramen, from a Strings veteran, Katie Dong:

Partly inspired by her love of beef noodle soup, Dong knew she wanted to serve beef ramen. “I just love beef,” she said. “If there are two bowls of ramen on the table, one pork and one beef, I’ll choose beef every time.”…

Instead of creating a super heavy and rich broth, Dong prefers to keep the broth on the lighter side. “My beef broth comes out more delicate than many pork broths,” she said. She’s right. Instead of thick and greasy, the beef-based broth tastes has a lighter consistency, yet is fortifying and deeply meaty.


Louisa Chu is, as many will know, a serious dog person, so it is perhaps not surprising that she reviews restaurants for dogs. Well, the dogs are not eating (at least not till leftovers) but the settings and choices are all about being dog-friendly. For example, Chinatown:

Go to the flagship location of Hello Jasmine, the Taiwanese street food restaurant that started out in the influential basement food court long known as Richland Center. Get their stellar popcorn chicken and boba tea (with customizable sweetness), plus they have the rare Chinatown combination of a free parking lot and an outdoor sidewalk patio. They’re normally counter service, but they will bring your order out to you and your dog if possible.

But if you want to see a restaurant review literally and primarily for your dog, check out this Fooditor piece from several years ago (my dog Buster, who is the dog model in the shot, is grayer now).


One of my goals in life is to actually be in the Detroit area on a day and at the hours when Dearborn Meat Market is open. The last two times I’ve been in the city were at times when it was impossible to go to the widely praised kebob spot. As Titus Ruscitti says:

No trip to Detroit is complete without a trip to Dearborn Michigan. The home of Ford Motors is also the home to some of the country’s best Middle Eastern food. Dearborn Meat Market is a Lebanese-American owned meat market that just might be Michigan’s best restaurant. They’re specialists so to say and their specialty is meat. You can buy it raw from the fridge up front or you can purchase kebabs to eat in back. The only other menu items they have is perfectly made hummus and fresh pita.

Anyway, it’s just one of a bunch of places, running from middle eastern restaurants to trendy downtown spots and Buddy’s pizza rivals, in Titus’ fourth installment of Eating Big in Detroit.


Who knew Cambodian was going to be the first new hot cuisine of the post-lockdown moment? (Well, along with beef ramen, I guess.) Eater has a profile of the woman behind Khmai Fine Dining in Rogers Park, Mona Sang, and the inspiration she got from her mother’s struggles in Cambodia and America:

Sang’s family suffered tragedy again in 2018, when one of Sang’s brothers died unexpectedly in his sleep. Her mother discovered him the next morning, Sang says, and that image haunted Sieng. She fell into a frozen emotional state that her daughter likens to a coma. “We fought so hard to get away from the genocide and come to freedom, just for him to die here in a free country,” Sang says. “My mom still has nightmares from the Khmer Rouge and she started screaming in her sleep.”

During the pandemic, the family once again faced challenges. Lettuce Entertain You furloughed Sang at the Ivy Room in spring 2021 and Sieng had to shut down the church’s catering operation. Sang and her family grappled for ways to help her mother cope with her depression. After many discussions around the kitchen table, they found the answer: cooking. “We started to cook together like we did when I was little,” says Sang. “Slowly, it brought her out and she started to smile again.”


Michael Nagrant has a post on Mother’s Ruin, a bar out of New York City in Avondale, that is also a meditation on the social acceptability of certain terms:

Mother’s Ruin kinda feels like an old man’s basement, the kind that always smells like flatulent stogies from last night’s poker game or a mafia initiation ceremony, except grandpa got woke.

There’s also a lot of fruity blue drinks and boozy slushies named things like Fuk’n Peachy and Funkin This and Funkin That, and the ever more creative Hot Local Melons in Your Area and Melons in the Front, Pickle in the Back, and the piece de resistance, Appalachian Ass Play which I assume is just regular anal amusement, but with a familial relation.


It’s been there 57 years. And I get pitches for it every anniversary. Rebecca Holland on a restaurant and a type of food that’s pure 60s romantic dining but still hanging on: Geja’s Fondue:

Sure, the chairs have been replaced and the colors of the tablecloths have changed. The patio has been remodeled and fireplaces were added outdoors. But over the years, the menu, music and experience have remained almost unchanged.


Yelp has announced the most photo-worthy restaurant in Chicago, and the fourth most popular one in the nation: Girl and the Goat. NBC 5 reports:

The review website released a list of the most photo-worthy restaurants in each state Thursday ahead of World Photography Day.

The list looked at reviews across the site and the number of images posted about each restaurant.

Not surprising, though what is surprising is that they illustrated it with a not very enticing picture of a half-eaten bowl of pasta.


Want to read a slice of the Chicago that is no more? Edward McClelland tells the story of a legendary sailor’s bar near where the barges used to drop off ore for the steel mills, Peckerhead Kate’s, and its rival, Horseface Mary’s.


Nice pics of Chinatown in a photo essay at Eater. Too bad the pictures are all thumbnail size, and the only way to see them big and get their full flavor is to click on them individually.


One of Steve Dolinsky’s food journalism students at Medill did a video about his Pizza City Fest. Looks tasty!


Jim Behymer at Sandwich Tribunal loved this Bitter Southerner piece about the steamed hoagies of Tennessee. So he, of course, set out to have one:

I had been waiting a long time to try this sandwich, but I had managed to keep my expectations in check. It was, after all, a fairly ordinary submarine-style sandwich, featuring ham and Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise and brown mustard, steamed to melt the cheese and served with a pickle wedge and an order of decent fries. I wasn’t expecting much.

I certainly didn’t expect the wave of nostalgia that hit me when I bit into it. I had never been within a hundred miles of Knoxville prior to that weekend. What right did this sandwich have to feel so familiar to me?


Hey, here’s an idea for a list (at Resy) I don’t remember seeing before: best places to eat on the North Shore.


This week’s The Bear piece, at Inside Hook: 10 Chicago Chefs on What “The Bear” Gets Right (And Wrong) About the Restaurant Industry. Here’s Zoe Schor of Split Rail:

“I think one of the things that is kind of jarring — and almost triggering about the show — is how it shows the sort of domino way things can go wrong when you work in a restaurant. Toilets backed up? Don’t worry, the health inspector should be knocking on the back door any minute. Someone didn’t show up for a shift? The least of your worries, because there’s an actual, literal fire to put out. I feel like the show really captures that intensity.”


Labor Day is always a challenging holiday for me—do I go to Taste of Melrose Park, subject of this Sky Full of Bacon video, or Taste of Polonia at the Copernicus Center? I won’t know till I decide which sounds better at the moment, but which are you going to?


I was heading to an interview for my book and they postponed at the last minute. So there I was in Edgewater, a part of town I haven’t been to much since my kids graduated from elementary school in Rogers Park. Where should I go? Aha, my chance to finally eat at Sfera Sicilian Street Food in its permanent location. I looked at the sandwich menu and, speaking of Taste of Melrose Park, found something that was similar to something I first tried there: the Pane e Panella sandwich, crispy chickpea fritters on a crusty semolina roll with roasted red peppers. Okay, yes, it’s kind of a carb on carb sandwich, and it’s also one of those sandwiches that you need to eat quickly—not for the reason that you have to do that with Italian beef (it’s not dipped) but because the fritters are best when they’re hot. Which honestly, it’s not easy to house the whole thing before it expires. So my first suggestion for this sandwich would be, to split it with somebody (and of course, eat it first). But with that advice in hand, I can recommend it as something pretty new and different, at least if you didn’t grow up in a family that made and ate such things.

One other thing: Kasama is hardly something new for this column, but I went the other morning with Son #1 and girlfriend (his, not mine) and since there was a line, I went ahead and ordered a bunch of stuff for all of us, most of which I’d tried before. But one thing I hadn’t, because it was always sold out before, was a ham and cheese thing—I can’t find what it’s actually called, and it’s at a level of abstraction that would fit a high end tasting menu so just saying “sandwich” hardly seems to cut it, a long stick of croissant-like pastry topped with prosciutto and some kind of creamy cheese. Anyway, it was wonderful, decadently Frenchish, and if I could have jumped the line and ordered two more I would have. It’s always nice when a place you already like a lot reveals something new you haven’t had, or even anticipated, before.