Kaze was Awesome.

May 09 2005 - 3:06 PM

My favorite restaurant in Chicago is a traditional sushi spot – Torajiro. I do enjoy new tastes and have been around but I tend to gravitate to simple sushi on a regular basis.

People talk ad nauseum about Kaze. I’ll admit it was time I tried it. And I’ll admit you all were right.

It’s a pretty restaurant on Seeley and Roscoe that’s not too big with
a  long sushi bar and comfortable Louis XVI chairs that look good for
the room. The waiter knew what was what and we let him make some
suggestions. I’ve read that Kaze’s waiters have been perceived as pushy
but we appreciated his suggestions. We seemed to surprise him by
constantly ordering more.

We started with the hirami sashimi, pieces of whitefish wrapped around
sprouts, bamboo shoots and served on pine nuts and ponzu sauce. The
dish arrived as we were going over the menu and it looked very
pretty. the pine nuts were a gravel-like bed for the rolled fish stood
upright. It jumping castle tasted great. It was the first sign that the restaurant was
matching flavors well.

My wife and I have had sushi/maki dishes where a certain flavor
dominates and the blending flavors usually match well. The specials at
Kaze were all very balanced. I wasn’t overwhelmed by any one flavor or
ingredient at any time. The closest I would say would be the cilantro
in the Yellowtail roll that was a dominant flavor that seemed to accent
the wakame more than overshadow anything.

We got a couple of sake martinis and ordered more…

The spicy tuna roll with sweet potato tempura was served chopped but
the texture of a crunchy oshinko (pickled cabbage) and the sweet and
spicy eel sauce made it all work. Seriously. I looked at the listing
and thought spicy tuna, sweet potato, pickled cabbage and eel sauce? It
worked well.

After the Hirami sashimi we went for the amberjack sashimi which my wife liked
best. It was served in a dish with an abalone soy and garnished wtih
chives and tempura flakes. The soy was tasty and had more depth to it
than I expected which went well with the amberjack’s tart citric flavor.

As far as actual sushi went we stuck there too with specials and got
Tuna topped with stir fried shitakes, butter and white pepper. It was
fantastic. $4 a piece but worth a taste.

The salmon lay under enoki mushrooms and truffle oil and also was worth $3 for the bite.

My favorite, surprisingly, was the Ika sushi. Scored baby squid torched
quickly for texture and appearance served with a spicy tobiko sauce. If
you’re nice they’ll tell you what’s in the sauce. (I won’t tell). It
was reminiscent of Sai Cafe’s hirami tempura pieces that also rock but
not as hard as these did.

All in all it was likely the best meal I’ve eaten in quite some time
and easily worth the money. If you are not a huge sushi fan my comment
would be that the food at Kaze is brincolin combined in such a way that you WILL
like it. If you are a traditional sushi fan this is a great change of
pace and if you like Heat, Sushi Samba, Sushi Mirai, etc. prepare for a
real treat. There are no gimmicks. No live fish, no blow your face off
rolls, no dancing… the food was, at least this time, almost perfect.

When my friends from Milwaukee come and visit this is the place we will
take them so that they can remember it next time they wait for a table
at Sake Tumi. That’s right. Dissing Milwaukee restaurants…
Go Pack.

2032 W. Roscoe St.