LANDLOCKED CHICAGOANS REJOICE AT THE COMING OF MIRAI, A SUSHI RESTAURANT THAT STACKS UP WITH SOME OF THE NATION’S BEST.
Byline: Rebecca Kleinman
New York may have Nobu, and Bond Street too, but Chicago’s got Mirai — the city’s sole three-star sushi restaurant. Though the constant comparisons to its eastern counterparts are flattering indeed, partner Miae Lim sees her restaurant and lounge as being entirely unique.
“We chose its name, which means ‘future’ in Japanese, because we felt that we were pioneering a concept of Japanese food. Everyone serves hot sake and tuna rolls — we wanted to take it to the next level.”
That means a finely tuned mix of hip decor, extensive wine and sake list, and chef Jun Ichikawa’s determination “to track down the fish that people don’t see every day,” according to Lim.
A glance at the innovative menu is enough to make any sushi fan realize this isn’t going to be a one-time-only visit — many patrons turn up at Mirai two or three times a week.
The most sought-after appetizer, a delicate carpaccio of tuna, salmon and whitefish sprinkled with cilantro, capers and sesame oil, is a seamless fusion of East and West. The Alaskan king crab served nigiri-style — wrapped in seaweed atop a bed of rice — is another must.
“People love it because of its flavor, and for its appeal to both serious sushi eaters and novices,” said Lim.
For less-adventurous types who won’t stray far beyond a tuna roll, even that’s been spiffed up. Instead of a mayo-based sauce, Mirai’s pluckier version uses a spicy sesame oil. “It’s a lot healthier, which is why people started eating sushi in the first place. Plus, [the sesame oil] lets you really taste the tuna,” said Lim.
2020 West Division Street Sun.-Wed., 5:30-10:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 5:30-11:30 p.m. Reservations recommended. (773) 862-8500.