My parents started taking me out for sushi at a young age. Maybe I was five or so. They started my on cooked shrimp and those bean curd pockets, moved me up to tuna and salmon, and then I took it from there. Since I moved to the Midwest for college, and then stayed here afterwards for work, I’ve generally been mortified by the quality of the sushi I’ve been able to find.
At any time since I’ve lived in Chicago I’ve been able to find one or maybe two places that I’ve been willing to eat sushi from on a regular basis. When I first moved here Mirai was the answer in the heart of the city (yes, yes, I know…Katsu. We went once, didn’t sit at the bar, and had an average experience. Plus I’m rarely out that way). Then there was Heat. Then we found Tsuki (we loved Tsuki so much we got engaged there). I have no issues paying a premium for good sushi. I always tell people that they need to eat better sushi, just eat it less frequently.
Our current favored place is Arami. Arami has gone through a number of changes since the first opened, and admirably they’ve been able to weather each one and maintain an extremely high quality level. One of the biggest changes they’ve endured has been the loss of BK Park, who is one if Chicago’s best sushi chefs.
Park’s new restaurant Juno is now open and is about a 15 minute walk from our place. We headed over last night after making a last minute decision to go out. Fortunately we are able to grab a couple of seats at the sushi bar. As expected, we had an incredible dinner. We started off with round of sashimi: hirame, kampachi, madai, chutoro, and King salmon. All of it was absolutely pristine and cut perfectly.
Next we moved on to what the restaurant calls “smoked” sashimi. These are nice sized slices of fish placed on a spoon with two or three “condiments” and served under a smoke-filled glass dome. We went with the tuna, which was served with ankimo and fresh wasabi. Outstanding.
After a soft shell crab roll that was ok but not stellar, we finished things off with a miscellaneous round. Marissa had a yellowtail and scallion handroll which she pronounced “really good” and I had three nigiri: live scallop, uni, and tobiko. The live scallop and the uni were two just really special bites. The uni was that perfect balance of tasting of the sea and butter. The live scallop was sprinkled with just a bit of sea salt, which is my favorite way of dressing the best sushi.
Juno has a nice list of sakes and craft beer (both Japanese as well as other imports). Service was exceptionally well polished, and not even for a restaurant that’s only been open for a week. You can tell that Park and Jason Chan really took care to hire the right staff for this place. The room was a little loud, but I’m not sure if that was an acoustical issue or the fact that the restaurant looks to be drawing the type of folks who would normally be hanging around the Lincoln & Wrightwood area.
I’m really excited to have Juno in our neighborhood, and place it right alongside Arami on the list of places where I will gladly eat sushi here in Chicago. We have a world class city, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have two or even more great sushi restaurants.
2638 N Lincoln
Chicago, Illinois 60614
PS – Yes, I realize this is a post about a new restaurant that also has pictures. Whatever…my blog, my rules.