It doesn't matter how far we are from the coasts (FYI, we're actually pretty far) -- there's still a shload of quality Chicago sushi options. Here are the nine best of those -- a range of raw fisheries that offer everything from straightforward cuts to omakase of the freshest fish. Kampai.
The 9 best sushi spots in Chicago
Kai Zan (address and info)
Despite its status as a relative newcomer, Kai Zan has already made a name for itself. Twin brothers Melvin and Carlo Vizconde -- veterans of the Chicago sushi scene -- are putting their own twists on sushi with signature rolls like the Orange Rush (scallop wrapped in salmon with a citrus glaze), but it’s the chef’s choice omakase that gives diners a true taste of the essence of quality sushi.
Arami (address and info)
B. K. Park put himself and Arami on the map before leaving to start his own restaurant, but the sushi hasn’t skipped a beat. Start with an uni shooter before trying the hamachi maguro maki (yellowtail, tuna, shrimp, scallion, jalapeño, spicy mayo), which is heightened by the use of Tamaki Gold rice. The cozy, tropical dining room evokes the feeling of Hawaii, and the fish will make you feel like you’re actually there. Sorta.
Toro Sushi (address and info)
Sandwiched between a cupcake shop and a Korean taco joint on Clark St, Toro manages to stand out with its sheer variety. Owner and chef Mitch Kim delivers on both traditional and non-traditional maki with creations like the aptly named "Oh My God Roll" (shrimp tempura, kani salad, unagi, cream cheese, mango, cucumber, avocado). Make sure you get there early, and prepare to pick up some alcohol while you wait, 'cause the crowds always pack the small spot and they've got a BYOB policy!
Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill (address and info)
An intimate neighborhood BYOB spot with comic-inspired walls and a trendy soundtrack, there’s nothing traditional about Yuzu. The menu features an eclectic mix of rolls with a dizzying array of options that somehow just work. You’ll want to try the jumbo Pot River Roll, packed with tuna, super-white tuna, salmon, avocado, cucumber, and, weirdly, no actual river of pot.
Katsu (address and info)
West Rogers Park
It’s easy to miss this unassuming restaurant in West Rogers Park, but once you step inside, you’ll see why it’s hailed as one of Chicago’s finest. Lauded for its high-quality, melt-in-your-mouth raw selections, the sushi keep things simple and straightforward with options such as spicy octopus, salmon, and a Katsu Maki Roll (tuna, yellowtail, masago, king crab, avocado, cucumber). The real adventure comes in the form of the nigiri or sashimi omakase, leaving fate in the hands of the talented chefs.
Macku (address and info)
Chef Macku Chan elevates sushi to white-tablecloth levels with a creative menu and elegant presentation. There’s the usual selection of rolls for maki lovers, but it’s the signature sashimi and nigiri that're the real stars here. The beautifully plated mebachi sashimi (big eye tuna, pickled onions, burdock root, chives, truffle oil, soy) is a favorite, showing off the type of inspired combinations that are possible with just a few ingredients and quality fish.
Mirai (address and info)
Stylish and chic, Mirai has been serving some of the best sushi in town for more than a decade. The Spicy Mono Roll is a crowd pleaser -- spicy octopus topped with spicy tuna and sweet unagi sauce -- as is the artful fish tank backing the sushi bar. You’ll see (and taste) why it’s the go-to spot for many critics, when the sushi shows up.
Lawrence Fish Market (address and info)
Who says sushi has to be an expensive outing? No, but besides "everyone ever"? Tucked away in Korea Town is Lawrence Fish Market, a regular seafood market that doubles as a takeout sushi joint. The prices are almost unbelievably low, but the quality of the fish is far from it. You can’t go wrong with classics like super-white tuna, but you ALSO can't go wrong with the more complex offerings like the Godzilla Roll (shrimp tempura, eel, avocado, cucumber). You’ll be amazed by how much $20 can get you, and the party trays are excellent values if you're partying.
Juno (address and info)
Although a fire has the restaurant out of commission until it reopens sometime this Summer, Juno is renowned sushi Chef B.K. Park’s latest venture. Teamed with Jason Chan, formerly of Urban Union, the two are replicating Park’s success at Arami with a selection of sashimi and maki that rivals the city’s best. The signature “smoked” sashimi are elegant bites of fish served under a smoked glass dome, while the omakase or chef’s choice of sashimi/nigiri are always a safe bet.
Jeffy Mai is a freelance writer who's a little too obsessed with Chicago and food photography. Follow him @jmai.
1. Katsu2651 W Peterson Ave, Chicago
2. Kai Zan2557 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
3. Arami1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
4. Macku Sushi2239 N Clybourn, Chicago
5. Juno2638 N Lincoln, Chicago
6. Toro Sushi2546 N Clark St, Chicago
7. Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill1751 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
8. Mirai Sushi2020 W Division St, Chicago
9. Lawrence Fish Market3914 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago
West Rogers Park is hiding incredibly fresh, high-quality sushi at Katsu, an unassuming restaurant with a must-try omasake experience. Though the dining room is casual, the prices are not, particularly for the omasake, but it's well worth it for the treasures the chef presents with precision, flair, and even flecks of gold. The other rolls on the menu keep things simple yet elegant, with options such as spicy octopus, salmon, and the Katsu Maki Roll (tuna, yellowtail, masago, king crab, avocado, cucumber).
This Humboldt Park Japanese eatery has made quite a name for itself thanks to the quality signature rolls like the Orange Rush (scallop wrapped in salmon with a citrus glaze), created by Twin brothers Melvin and Carlo Vizconde.
This West Town Japanese spot serves a stellar selection of cooked and raw fish. The sushi-centric menu includes à la carte nigiri, sashimi, and maki rolls, plus grilled robata meats and ramen. The sushi is more creative than what you'd find at a run-of-the-mill Americanized spot but more affordable than a fine dining omakase, and everything is of the highest quality and beautifully prepared. Aside from dinner, Arami also serves Sunday brunch where you'll find French toast beignets alongside bento boxes.
From the trio behind Roscoe Village's dearly departed Kaze, MS is a bright, narrow sushi spot with light green banquettes and an eight-person bar where they're pouring an extensive wine and sake list to pair with signature seasonal sashimi and nigiri.
Juno in Lincoln Park is serving up authentic Japanese sushi and other maki, and's got an omakase area where you can entrust the chef to prepare you something truly worthy of your palate.
This BYOB sushi bar is one of Chicago's best kept secrets. Everyone working here knows their sushi and can tell you want to get, whether you're a first timer or regular.
It's another BYOB in Chicago. It's decorated with 100 year old Japanese wood for an authentic atmosphere to complement the food.
Open for over 10 years, Mirai is a classy sushi staple with some unique dishes that keep its fans coming back for more -- like its Spicy Mono Roll, made with spicy octopus topped with spicy tuna and sweet unagi sauce.
Don't be scared off by the low prices at this Korea Town joint -- the fish is quality, the rolls are delicious, and you'll enjoy their special offerings, like the Godzilla Roll (shrimp tempura, eel, avocado, cucumber). Make sure to bring cash, and get there before they close at 8pm.