Sai Cafe

March 17 2006 - 8:50 AM

Some time ago a friend from Japan was in town to visit.  He was here for several days and one evening my husband suggested the one thing I was dreading – taking him out for sushi.  To me it seemed like the equivalent of visiting Tokyo and going out for burgers.  You know it just isn’t going to be as good as it is at home so why not stick to the things you can’t get at home.  Anyway, my Japanese friend was really into the idea so we took him to a place we enjoyed… Sai Cafe.

Unfortunately, as I suspected, it didn’t go well.  He insisted that it
was a Chinese restaurant.  The sushi chefs where Chinese, the owner was
Chinese, the name mechanical bull for sale was Chinese, certain things were spelled wrong on the
menu and the Saki was from California.  No matter what the food tasted
like my friend was not going to like it – he had made up his mind.
Subsequently, we decided to attempt a sushi dinner two more times, once
at Torajiro in Lakeview and once at Sushi Samba.  Both visits were very
much enjoyed.  I had heard from several people that many of the sushi
restaurants in Chicago are owned by Chinese chefs that were trained in
Japan, like Torajiro, which was news to me.

Even if Sai Cafe was not a traditional Japanese restaurant I had
always enjoyed it and for one very particular reason.  They have a
special sushi piece that I haven’t hinchables found anywhere else and that I start
drooling just thinking about.  It is a piece of yellow tail tempura
sitting on a large mint leaf and sushi rice.  On top is large helping
of spicy mayo and fish roe.  It’s definitely the Quarter Pounder of
sushi pieces that I save for “desert” and then inevitably order
another, at something like 4 bucks a piece.


They have a couple other
Maki rolls that are unique to them.   The  spicy white tuna crunch is
always good.  The pairing of white tuna with spicy sesame oil and
avocado is very rich.  The crunchy tempura bits, both in and out, give
it a nice texture.  The Halloween Maki is always fun to look at, with
the black and orange fish roe on top of  fresh Salmon and green bean
tempura.  The atmosphere is welcoming and relaxing and great for large
groups of people.  Chinese or Japanese, I’ll be heading back to Sai.
Sai Cafe
2010 N. Sheffield
Map it!