Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill is a fairly new sushi indie business located in Ukrainian Village that puts creative thought and taste into the average sushi dining experience. Yuzu offers a very different dine-in experience compared to other places due to their unique businesses personality & love for creativity.
The venue located at 1715 W. Chicago Ave. Chicago, IL 60622 is almost easy to miss driving down Chicago Avenue. Once we parked on this slightly chilly Sunday we were excited to meet up with our good friends Marcus Shadden & Leslie. Upon entering Yuzu we could see a very busy kitchen to the left with a few tables lining the wall to the right. We were not sure if our friends made it yet but the super nice hostess greeted us with a “Hello, Welcome to Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill” with such an eyes lit welcoming smile. This made us feel immediately welcomed into Yuzu as they directed us to the back table which was a four top nestled cozying in the back of the venue. We are greeted by one of the owners who was very very friendly welcoming us instantly as we sat to Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill while telling us how he use to also be a journalist back in the day. We asked him about the menu, recommendations and if they were a chain. He told us they had been open about 2 years with this location being the only one. As far as recommendations he quickly let us know that if we didn’t like something to send it back and that he wanted us to enjoy our dining experience completely. We can’t make this up we were quite impressed.
As we were all playing catch up you could hear Snoop Doggs (Lion) gin & juice followed by Aaliyah’s are you that somebody faintly playing in the background. Wait, sushi & hip hop? Say no more. At this point tea is brought to the table in quiet heavy traditional tea pots with waters in mason jars and an order of edamame hits the table freshly steamed warming up our cozy table. The menu had so many potentially delicious items we all were in individual huddles trying to decide on just an appetizer for all of us to share as my friend is a vegetarian. The prices were just right so a decision had to be made. The waitress came by so we asked her what did she recommend? She told us The Whole Squid was amazing, The Tuna Poke was very popular and Shiitake Mushroom where all favorites. We decided to order the cucumber salad, shiitake mushroom, avocado mango salad, and the grilled whole squid.
While playing catch up over music as our good friend Marcus Shadden now lives in Los Angeles we couldn’t help but notice the anime comic strips on the wall, the nice age wood interior and the intimate yet coziness of this place. When the food hit the table we were immediately out of room lol. The cucumber salad was a very nice portion (can’t go wrong with cucumber) and the avocado salad was humungous like enough for 4 people maybe 6 seriously it’s the largest salad appetizer I’ve ever seen and very colorful. The grilled whole squid was basically the Yuzu form of calamari, baked and cut in large ringlets topped with ginger and garlic served with jalapeno dipping sauce. We love some calamari it wasn’t the rubbery cheap stuff, very prime steak like quality which made it extremely delicious (should have ordered two).
Already stuffed at this point (the portions are very nice for the price guaranteed) it was time to order the main course. So many things to try eeek, decisions decisions. As we looked at the menu my eyes scoured the room not one upset face, tons of smiles with great music playing not too loud over the restaurant which seats maybe about 60 people tops. This is similar to a sushi dive bar we thought with amazing comfortable customer service. We decided to order the Dragon which contained shrimp tempura, unagi (eel), avocado, cucumber, tempura crumbs, masago, spicy mayo and sweet soy sauce. Our friends ordered the Green Harbor which was a jumbo roll, broccoli, tempura, sweet potato tempura, grilled asparagus, sunflower seeds, avocado, cucumber, wasabi mayo, with sweet soy sauce.
The presentation of each was very flawless like its own little art piece which shows this is a venue that takes pride in its dishes. As we talked about Los Angeles vs. Chicago for creative entrepreneurs I was looking through the menu and some of the funny menu titles, like the breaking bad, I’m drunk & what’s my name. At this point totally stuffed, with taste buds jumping for joy we are all full to the max.
The server asks us did we want to try a desert and we all pondered but ice cream did sound delicious all of the sudden. We decided to order some Mochi Ice cream one of each flavor. The presentation as the rest of the meal was beautifully done with a creative flair. As an artist & often dining snob (from years in the restaurant industry) you can’t help but appreciate these little tokens of making a dining experience memorable. We all dug in, I personally did not favor the Mochi outer texture but everyone else enjoyed it as the texture was weird on my palate.
What can we say about our dining experience at Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill? The service was astounding never did a dish sit longer than 2 minutes once finished. The staff is very knowledgeable of the menu from suggestions to vegetarian accommodations. The establishment is willing to go the extra mile to make your dining experience spectacular. The icing on the cake for us is the presentation, vibe from the music and over all cozy dining atmosphere. Yuzu is one of those tiny hidden gems that you will be glad you tried and just may not want to share with too many of your friend’s lol. Chicago you should definitely grab some friends & stop by when you can you won’t regret it! Yuzu we will see you again VERY soon!