Sunday, April 15, 2012
It seemed like a good idea at the time. I like sushi and some friends of mine decided to go see a documentary about the most famous sushi chef in Tokyo and then go out for sushi afterward. The documentary was very good and made us all very hungry for sushi. The problem is that Jiro Ono, the subject of the documentary, is also a Michelin three star chef (the oldest anywhere) and the sushi that he makes are works of art. Any sushi we would have just could not stand up to the sushi that the sushi that he makes. While there are some fancy sushi places in Chicago, Yuki Hana is not one of them. It is a small BYOB with a simple storefront design and not a lot spent on decor. While it is simple, it also seemed pretty popular and we had to wait a few minutes for a table to open up so we could sit down. The menu seems to be pretty wide and varied with the standard fish that you would see on a sushi menu and maki rolls divided into standard, vegetarian, and VIP. After the movie, I was hungry so I ordered a VIP maki (which are all named after movies) and several nigiri (a single type of fish served with enough rice to give it some shape). They both arrived at the same time so I attacked the maki first. The maki that I had was called Clock Work Orange. I am not exactly sure what it had in it other than the rice and seaweed that comes with all maki. It had a slice of orange on each roll with a slight bit of hot sauce on top that I imagine was as much for color as it was for spice. The fish was light colored and mild flavored, there was a white sauce around spread around the plate, and black sesame seeds used as a garnish. It was creative and flavorful even if it wasn't the sushi that was filmed in Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
While tuna is generally the biggest seller in most sushi restaurants, to me, if the fish itself is fresh, there doesn't seem to be a tremendous difference from restaurant to restaurant so I tend to go for something different. While the nigiri is a little cheaper here than at other places, you only get two pieces of a given type as opposed to three or four that are offered at other restaurants. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, because it allows you to try a variety of different things. I ordered the Tako (octopus), Kani (crab), and Tai (red snapper) all of which were pretty good. The octopus was a little surprising in its appearance and texture, I was kind of expecting to recognize it as part of an octopus but it was served skin side down. The crab and snapper looked and tasted as I would have expected them to.
Despite our disappointment, I would go back to Yuki Hana because our disappointment was self inflicted. While it isn't exceptionally high end, it is good for an average night and can be fun with friends.