Hours: Dinner: seven days
Open late: Friday-Monday till 1
Matthias Merges's Avondale yakitori.
Matthias Merges, a 14-year veteran of Charlie Trotter's, opened this Avondale izakaya with backup from his former sous chef Jennifer Petrusky and onetime Trotter's assistant sommelier Alex Bachman. And the tiny open kitchen at Yusho puts out skewers garnished and accented with a mostly Japanese palette of interesting exotica that recalls the same precise and audacious flavoring schemes that Trotter's became known for decades ago. That's in substance if not style; unfussy constructions rule, particularly with generously loaded skewers such as billowing ribbons of beef tongue dressed with Malaysian chile sauce or thick blocks of glazed pork belly topped with kimchi and funky fermented black garli. Nonanimal options are almost as meaty in their savoriness: a grilled leek formation is slathered with acidic miso and fried shallot, a plank of dense tofu topped with chrysanthemum and pineapple. Bachman, who these days tends bar at Merges's Billy Sunday, still oversees the cocktail menu, which riffs on classics with obscure spirits and novel garnishes. But general manager Timothy Koenig's expertise in Japanese spirits make those a welcome option, whether draft beer, Japanese whiskey, or sake. Yusho's the sort of place where the deceptively attractive prices might tempt you to order more than you can handle, if only to prolong your time at the bar. Read the full review >>
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Opening barman Alex Bachman was the ace in the hole at this yakitori from chef Matthias Merges, and he still oversees a list of inventive and sometimes challenging takes on classics. But general manager Timothy Koenig's expertise in Japanese spirits make those a welcome option, whether draft beer, Japanese whiskey, or sake; he's certified in the last. —Mike Sula