Julia Momosé’s highly celebrated Japanese dining bar was ranked No. 5 on the best bars in North America list, and for good reason. The atmosphere is elegant, warm, and pleasantly minimalist, while the food and drink menu is beautifully curated and refined. Their cocktails are creative and dynamic like the Cloud Hopper, a mezcal and shōchū loaded drink with other ingredients like green cardamom and oat milk. You can’t go wrong with anything from the “Snacks” and “Savory'' menu, but standouts include the Karaage, a Japanese fried Chicken dish with charred pickled shishitō and kanzuri mayo, and the Japanese Potato Salad with smoked ham and pickled carrots. Whether you bring a date or a group of friends, come hungry and thirsty.
The gist: Kumiko, the Japanese-inspired drinking den from award-winners Julia Momose and Noah Sandoval, continues to dazzle longtime and newfound fans alike with artful cocktail flights and food pairings.
The food: Those yearning for a taste of Sandoval’s fare without the Oriole sticker shock can enjoy Michelin-grade handiwork for wallet-friendly prices in the form of expressions like Karaage with Kanzuri-spiked mayo and charred pickled shishitos, Cod Wings with charred lemon, house ponzu, and yuzu zest, A5 Miyazaki Wagyū Katsu Sandos, and Truffle Milk Toast for a fancy-ass dessert. Elsewhere, Thrillist 2020 Local Hero Momose makes her cocktail prowess known through expertly crafted concoctions (both boozy and non) as well as a world-class lineup of specialty spirits and sake.
Since opening its doors several years ago, Kumiko has created quite a buzz in Chicago’s culinary scene and for good reason—detail is an essential characteristic of each drink and dish over at this chic West Loop den. The concept was inspired by accomplished cocktail whiz Julia Momose’s background growing up in Kyoto, and infused with her fervent love for all things bartending and hospitality. The cocktail program revolves around Japanese-style renditions of the classics and can be enjoyed alone, or paired with any of their incredible sweet and savory bites.
From the expertly curated sake list and brilliant boozy concoctions (garnet milk punch, anyone?) to the delicate matcha shortbread cookies, tamago sandos bursting with velvety Kewpie mayo egg salad, and dreamy yakisoba bowls laced with Wavy Sun Noodles with Berkshire pork belly, 2020 Local Hero and award-winning drinks maven Julia Momose’s genius can be found buried within every magnificent detail of this Japanese-style West Loop cocktail den. She was also instrumental in legalizing to-go cocktails throughout Chicago last year, so obviously we stan.
How to order: Available for pick-up and delivery straight from the source and via Tock, Postmates, Grubhub, and DoorDash.