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Best of Chicago 2009

Best Japanese Restaurant

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The Reader's Choice: Tampopo

A great Japanese restaurant—owned by Koreans. Daniel Choe named his place after Juzo Itami's "noodle western," whose eponymous heroine is named for the Japanese word for dandelion. Like that woman's ramen shop, Choe's restaurant is bright and earnest. Unlike her, he offers more than just three kinds of noodles—he's got 14 types of ramen, udon, and soba, plus donburi, bento boxes, sushi, and nearly two pages of traditional Japanese appetizers and entrees. Choe has a deft touch with the deep fryer, rendering delicate items like panko-fried oysters light and greaseless. He handles artistic presentations—like a startling whole reassembled squid that looks capable of wrestling a submarine—just as easily as home-style dishes like good ol' sukiyaki or agedashi tofu (fried bean curd with ginger in a minced radish sauce with tiny mushrooms and soybeans).  5665 N. Lincoln, 773-561-2277. —Mike Sula

&Our readers' choice: Japonais

 600 W. Chicago, 312-822-9600, japonaischicago.com.

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