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Irving Park's been no exception, even though it recently lost two dependable sushi joints in the adjunct restaurant next to Paradise Sauna and in the Ecuadoran Galapagos Cafe, which fled for Albany Park after a kitchen fire. And Sanook, the Thai-sushi combo that briefly stood in this strip mall, just wasn't cutting it. But now the space has been rededicated as a sleek, fully Japanese something-for-everyone standby with a menu that spans unpretentious appetizers (shumai, gyoza, agedashi tofu), generously sized entrees (teriyaki, udon, rice bowls), and a full complement of unadorned sashimi and traditional and wacky maki. The chefs aren't working at Arami or Katsu levels, but you'd have to brave congested Lincoln Square to find comparably treated fish like the briny mackerel sashimi, lush spicy tuna maki, or even the fat, crunchy spider roll.
The pork tonkatsu is a cutlet as big as the plate, respectably breaded and fried; the miso ramen is a deep bowl with fat slices of pork belly, narutomaki, and corn; and while the broiled yellowtail collar may not be as sizable as you'd find elsewhere, it's still an acceptably pleasing and fatty bone to pick over. Since Umi opened in September, it's looked about as busy as its predecessor, but it deserves better treatment than that.
Umi Japanese Restaurant, 2845 W. Irving Park, 773-463-7299