News & Features

Charlie Trotters' Vet Opens Yakitori Spot Yusho Tomorrow

December 02 2011 - 9:57 AM

Yusho Chicken SkinWill Chicago finally get a stand-out yakitori restaurant? Long-time Charlie Trotters' chef-de-cuisine Matthias Merges hopes his new street food-inspired restaurant, Yusho, will draw the masses to the outskirts of Logan Square in search of grilled meats.

After fourteen years at Trotters', Merges left to open his own neighborhood restaurant that focuses on grilled poultry (yakitori), vegetables (yasai), and meats and seafood (kushiyaki). Yusho's shareable menus, neon-and-brick interior, and late-night hours are certainly a departure from Trotter's, but one that could finally up the standard for Japanese grills in Chicago.

Just over a year ago, the much-hyped Chizakaya opened in Lincoln Park, hoping to break the city's cursed relationship with Japanese gastropubs (RIP Shochu and Masu Izakaya). After a buzzy opening, the restaurant has steadily chugged along without much fanfare. Then there was the even more blogged-about Union Sushi + Barbecue, whose owners fanatically Tweeted their pre-opening trek through Asia. When the doors finally opened earlier this year, reviewiers were largely unimpressed. Most recently, River North welcomed the glitzy Roka Akor, a high-end Japanese robata restaurant that has impressed the critics, but whose price tag keeps it the domain of executive lunches and anniversary dinners.

Given Chicago's fraught relationship with accessible Japanese street food, it's going to take some very inspired food to not only draw diners to the edge of Logan Square, but to keep them coming back. Though if there's any chef who's up to the task, it's a seasoned Trotters' alum.

Yusho, 2853 N. Kedzie Ave., 773-904-8558