An Outsider’s View of Chicago, Pt. 2: Captivating Comestibles–Ai Sushi

Posted: August 8, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Oh, the joy of a good meal.  I admit it.  I love good food.  So does my husband.  In fact, Chicago’s foodie reputation is so powerful, it was one of the motivating factors in our choice of destination.  He researched restaurants for a couple of weeks before we went. Again, most were in the area of our hotel due to the demon time constraints. We settled on two upscale, way-out-of-our-normal-budget restaurants, and picked a few other in-budget possibilities based on food “genre.”  We were not disappointed.  In fact, the food was so amazing, that I overloaded the post I’d intended to cover this aspect of our trip.  I decided to break it down into bite-sized pieces, rather than serving up the whole banquet like I did in An Outsider’s View of Chicago, Pt. 1.

Our first night in town, we decided to go light.  Sushi, a family favorite.  We’ve eaten a fair amount of sushi of varying qualities, though admittedly never in a place that has any reputation for excellent seafood.  We’ve even rolled our own, so to speak.   Ai Sushi was the best to date.  We did not have blowfish, although they do prepare it on occasion.  I was tempted, but I think the Columbo episode, “Murder Under Glass,” caused a permanent fugu phobia.  That and the fact that they serve it in December and we were there in July.  I did have the Sake Ceviche.  I thought it would be an interesting experience to have South American acid-cooked fish in a Japanese raw fish restaurant.  It was tasty, as was my main course, the Chirashi Sushi.

The surprise of the meal was the uni.  I had never eaten sea urchin before, and the texture and taste I find extraordinarily difficult to describe.  It looks something like a tiny, turmeric-infused tongue, though the texture is nothing like that.  The feel of it on my own tongue was fascinating.  The softly gelatinous morsel literally melted in my mouth.  The flavor started out light, then deepened into a rich, somewhat musky, mineral-toned aftertaste that my sushi-loving daughter did not relish. Not at all fishy.  I liked it, but it was strong.  Sometimes a small portion is enough.

I hope this whets your appetite for your own visit to Chicago.  And if you are from the city or have visited, please share your favorite restaurants and dining experiences.  I’d love to hear from you.

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