I can appreciate a good paradox, an ironic juxtaposition and a thoughtful fusion of disparate elements as much as any man. That said, I was mildly skeptical when told to show up to the Chicago location of Sushi Samba on Wells St Saturday. Going into it, I knew only that Chef Dan, the EC, was a fellow Napervillian, and what I gleaned from the corporate website. While the former was encouraging, the latter managed to incorporate virtually every distasteful website attribute I can think of--obnoxious music, less than intuitive navigation, and in-your-face yet pointless animated graphics. Mike can offer a more substantive critique from a professional perspective, but the web design, and, frankly, much-though-not-all of the posted menu reinforced to me the idea that I was about to enter an uber-hip, there-to-be-seen club atmosphere that, while I realize is some people’s legitimate cup of tea (and may well be yours), hovers somewhere between utter disinterest and polite contempt for me. Perhaps at the root was that I can think of few more incompatible schools of culinary thought than Japanese and Latin. I like them both, but don’t want to enjoy either in any close proximity to the other; the essential elements of each struck me as fundamentally destructive to the important elements of the other. But in the hands of professionals, perhaps I’d be proven wrong.
Entries in Sushi (2)
I cannot emphasize enough my love for Chicago cuisine. It's the top culinary city in the country. We have a top 10 restaurant in the world, Alinea; best new restaurant, L2O; the godfather of Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless; countless other greats like Trotter, Tramonto, Kahan-- the list goes on. What we don't have, is great sushi. We have the best steaks (thanks to Gresh) and other land animals, but often struggle with creatures of the sea. We're not by any ocean, so proper procurement is difficult. There are still great places like Japonias and NoMI, but not much in terms of great, purist sushi for non-special occasions.
Too many sushi joints violate my three sushi sins: the integration of mayo, cream cheese, and/or deep frying. They try to be unique with various 'specialty rolls,' but like goth kids, when they all combat conformity in the same way, they become what they're fighting against. What's so special about a Philly or California roll? Every spider roll tastes the same to me too-- like fried.
I want more than fish, rice, and edamame. I found it at Mizu. Finally a great casual-nice place for sushi in Chicago.