Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hachi's Kitchen

Since moving to Chicago about two months ago, I had not had sushi until Hachi's Kitchen. I'd heard mixed things about sushi in the midwest - even in its biggest metropolitan city - and I wasn't that anxious to eat it. But, the craving overtook me and I'm mighty glad that it did.

Hachi's Kitchen sits on a charming stretch of California between Altgeld and Logan Blvd that also houses restaurants like Buona Terra, Anong, and Rustico. It has a cool contemporary vibe and a sleek, swanky interior anchored by a large, oval-shaped bar in the front. To be honest, I was surprised to see a place that looked like Hachi's in a modest neighborhood like Logan Square.

As my friend and I perused our menus and enjoyed the XM station's contemporary jazz, we were each given an oshibori (hot towel), which is a Japanese custom for those of you that were curious. I will say that I do appreciate this formality as cleanliness is crucial when it comes to eating sushi.

I ordered the spicy white tuna crunch ($7) and vegetable yaki soba ($9). The spicy white tuna crunch rolls were delicious - the tuna and its avocado partner were fresh and flavorful and the tempura offered a nicely contrasting crunchy texture. It's also important to mention that the accompanying clump of gari (pickled ginger used for sushi) was wonderfully crisp and potent with a vibrant deep orange/pink color.

The yaki soba needed more yaki soba sauce (a Japense worcestershire) and could've been pan-fried for a bit longer. At times, it reminded me too much of a limp, American-style chow mein take out dish. That said, it wasn't wholly unsuccessful - the vegetables added much needed texture and character, there was some nice pepper and sesame flavor, and the portion itself was respectable.

For sushi and drinks and an awesome ambience, I think Hachi's Kitchen is a safe bet. I do have some qualms though. Why do they put that cheap fake grass on the sushi plates? I mean, c'mon, it really spoils their classy style and delicious cuisine. That's the sort of thing I expect when I get sushi at a supermarket and it comes in a plastic container... Also, the XM station that they roll with does set up a nice contemp jazz playlist, but the voice of the host in between sets is a real vibe-buster. BUT, I do love how they keep a bowl of wint-o-green lifesavers for you on the way out. Kudos to that.

Back or Forth? I will be going back.

Hachi's Kitchen - Logan Square - (773)276-8080 - 2521 N. California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 - Public transportation: California stop of the Blue Line or bus 52.

spicy white tuna crunch - $7
vegetable yaki soba - $9

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