Food & Drink

Literally eat from an aquarium in the West Loop

Shellfish aquarium dish at Kabocha Japanese brasserie in the West Loop

Pulling inspiration from the French and the Japanese (Frapanese?), Kabocha is a seafood-laden brasserie from chef Shin Thompson (Bonsoiree) that's serious enough about its under-the-sea creatures to bring you out a fish tank and tip the whole thing over to create this shellfish aquarium platter, loaded with lobster, oysters, scallops, king crab, prawns, squid ink “coral”, and seaweed. Don’t worry, Nemo is still happily reunited with his family. Once that thing hits the table, your eyes aren't going anywhere, so take some time before you sit to admire the elegantly chiseled tile walls and woven chandeliers. If you're big time, you can get a private kaiseki table for two with a one-way mirror to watch the kitchen in action, interrogation-style. While seafood's the star of the show, they aren't overlooking land-based proteins, like these pot stickers with duck prosciutto & shaved fennel in a sour orange sauce. If you prefer your meal Eddie Murphy-style, pull up to the eight-seat raw bar with an ever-changing array of fresh oysters or this nearly-too-beautiful-to-eat tuna and hamachi mosaic (fine herbs, smoked bacon, and pickled shallot). The bar offers a mix of Japanese and local beers to go with an extensive sake and wine menu, plus concoctions such as plum wine mixed with shochu, yuzu, and umeboshi, which're Japanese plum pickles, not to be confused with lobster pickles, aka, "How do I get out of this aquarium?!" Photos courtesy of Galdones Photography

Kabocha Japanese brasserie in the West Loop
Duck and fennel potstickers at Kabocha Japanese brasserie in the West Loop
Tuna and hamachi mosaic at Kabocha Japanese brasserie in the West Loop
Bar at Kabocha Japanese brasserie in the West Loop