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Passing on the uni shooter, we started with a small plate of hamachi with jalapeño, pickled radish, and ponzu vinaigrette, the perfect beginning for a steamy summer supper—we devoured it in a flash. We ordered multiple robata, which range from a host of vegetarian options ($1.25 per) to seafood and meat; the Moo Ping, garlic-marinated pork shoulder, and the bacon-eggplant emerged as our favorites. The Sakana, a fish ball, was also tasty, its texture not dissimilar to a firm marshmallow. With the vast majority of these skewers priced at under two bucks, you can afford to go wild.
The a la carte portion of the menu offers a choice of preparation for each: sushi, sashimi, or maki. We went with sushi for our uni, a large, velvety mouthful. Ditto for the tamago, whose eggy sweetness balanced out the faintly savory seasoned rice, setting the tone for the maki to follow.
The soft-shell crab maki ($8.50) alone is worth a visit—though hurry, as the season typically ends in mid-September. In addition to classic maki (California, dragon, and rainbow rolls, etc etc), Uni Sushi has the de rigueur signature maki, the majority named for our beloved but exasperating sports teams. Looking forward to football season, we ordered the Bears maki: salmon three ways (regular, spicy, and crunchy) in conjunction with avocado and sweet potato. It did not disappoint; let's see if Cutler and crew can do the same.
Now. Sea-urchin ice cream, for real? With a quail egg yolk, no less? We tried to order it—how could we not?—but, alas, were told the kitchen was out. Instead we satisfied ourselves with green tea and mochi ice creams, both served in enormous portions. Meanwhile, it had begun to pour, and we followed suit, finishing up a bottle of rosé we'd picked up from the well-supplied liquor store down the street—Uni Sushi is BYO with no corkage fee. In fact, as we waited for the rain to let up, one of the sushi chefs returned with a 30-pack of PBR.
Uni Sushi, 1752 W. North, 773-276-9899, unisushichicago.com