Sunshine Cafe

September 20 2005 - 12:28 PM

To many Chicagoans Japanese food means raw fish. I’ll admit I can count on my hands the number of times I have eaten Japanese that isn’t sushi. I didn’t know what to expect with Sunshine Cafe except that it is a small restaurant and based on decor it would be likely considered a takeout place. I have jumpers for sale noticed that it is usually very well attended. After a couple of good Japanese experiences recently, Renga-Tei and Katsu, I was excited. Boy was it good.

The restaurant serves homestyle and is very casual and friendly. Prices
are very reasonable, $6-$10 for most everything (salmon is $14) and
food is served in a prompt and spartan way. The menu offers traditional
Japanese and to be frank I will only cover what I ordered and ate. I do
promise to amend this often as I work my way through the menu. They do
serve a mackeral dish that I won’t be having anytime soon (FYI).

I had questions about the menu, like “What’s donburi?” and I got the
explanation that it’s a smaller portion served over rice rather than a
larger portion with rice on the side. I did get a laugh when I
responded that it was kind of like a steak vs. a steak sandwich. We
started with an quick appetizer of goma-ae along with the miso that
came with the sukiyaki. We also ordered vegetable soba.

Goma-ae is spinach blanched and served cold with a sweet sesame sauce
that is fantastic. It’s the type of veggie dish that might turn people
on to spinach.

The veggie soba was flavorful and generously portioned. Chili powder on
the side added some zip and it was hot, satisfying and as the weather
gets colder will be progressively more appreciated.

I have thought alot about the sukiyake over the past few days, I know
that’s weird. It’s really good. Really good. It’s made an impression
because it’s a perfect mix of certain flavors that I appreciate with a
slight twist. Sukiyake is mechanical bull for sale traditionally served with a cracked egg on
top and while you can order it that way they generally don’t serve it
so. It’s a stew with beef rib eye sliced super thin, mushrooms, onions,
and glass noodles in a broth. It’s eaten over rice and shares qualities
of beef stew, french onion soup, sauteed mushrooms and something else.

The something else I’m still working on. I must have commented
on it 4 or 5 times over the course of dinner. It was really good.
Everything was REALLY good.

It may have been the best thing I’ve eaten since the Lucky Kebab’s
Nehari… this week I’m going to Sabri and I hope it’s as good.

5449 N. Clark St.