First Look: Sushi-X on Diversey

February 24 2008 - 3:45 PM

My wife, as an interior designer, was fortunate enough to get an invitation to get a sneak preview of Sushi-X. I admit I have not been to Sushi-X’s original location, on Chicago and Milwaukee in East Ukrainian Village.  One of the first thoughts I had was that this is a bold move for them:  there are quite a few sushi places around Lincoln Park and Lakeview, anywhere from more “old school” styles with bright lighting and lots of bamboo to trendy, hip places.  Sushi-X aims for the trendy and hip segment of the sushi market, with its dark colors, dark lighting, Japanese anime, and techno.  Maybe this is good timing as there have been more of the “trendy” places opening gonfiabili around Lakeview, and surprisingly, a few signs around Lincoln Park as well.

Comparing actual sushi and sashimi (you know, the raw fish!) between
places is somewhat tough.  Chicago doesn’t get the world’s freshest
seafood due to its location, and with a “been there, done that” sort of
feeling that you can’t do much more with raw fish on rice (chime in if
you disagree) we decided to go straight for the maki rolls, and there
were quite a few to choose from, from standard low-priced maki rolls to
more fanciful creations.

Their signature maki rolls were huge and took several bites to fit
inside your mouth.  The White Tiger was one of the table favorites,
which consisted of (are you ready for this?) tuna, hamachi (yellowtail), salmon, asparagus, avocado, cucumber, jalapeño,
scallions, lime juice, tempura flakes (batter of wheat flour), wasabi
mayo, chili sauce, cilantro, siracha (hot pepper seasoning), regular
mayo, roe (salmon eggs), spicy tuna, green onion, and eel sauce.  By
the time I was reading this description, as well as others, my eyes
glazed over.  It had a nice spice to it, and the complexity of flavors
made it interesting.

The Red Dragon was fairly popular on our table, with shrimp tempura,
siracha, jalepeño, mayo, roe, spicy tuna, green onion, and eel sauce.
The spiciness as well received, as it had a nice lingering kick that
snuck up on you.   Another interesting dish, also well liked, was the
Crab Rangoon maki roll, which was served with cream cheese, masago
(another type of fish egg from smelt fish), avacado, sweet chili sauce
with tempura.

Another winner was the Bhudda, which consisted of lettuce, avacado,
daikon, temp asparagus, mayo, cucumber, shitake, green onions, and
creamy ginger dressing.

Presentation-wise, another interesting maki roll was the Yellow
Jacket, which was inflatable water slide hamachi, shitake, avacado, wasabi mayo, with mango on
the outside, forming a hat to protect the maki from within..a clever
idea and with more mango than typically found in maki rolls.

Our final maki roll was the Pollo Loco, which  had panko-crusted
chicken (fried, I believe), with lettuce, avacado, jalepeno, daikon
sprouts, mayo, cilantro, and red sauce.  The chicken made it a bit
heartier than other sushi portions.

Since the restaurant had seatings the night we were in, we skipped
dessert to make room for the next table.  As far as service goes, it
may be wise just to get a couple more practice nights or open up low
key to keep the crowds away for a little while, giving the staff some
time to understand the menu.  I’m just a customer, and I’ve worked in
restaurants but never have opened one myself so I don’t understand the
complexities, but unfortunately perception is reality.

Sushi-X replaced the short-lived and so-so Sausalito Restaurant and
Martini Bar as well as Cucina Bella at this location.  The maki rolls
overall were very good and the portions were generous, and though they
are pricier than other sushi restaurants the quality was there.   The
place is BYOB for now, but the place is waiting for a liquor license,
so don’t expect it to last.

543 W. Diversey