Mike Sula is unimpressed with Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar and Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill. He thinks these "similarly themed but quite different vaguely Japanese fish-and-stick-meat joints" are "part of a so-far unimpressive offshoot of the izakaya trend." Sula describes Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar as "David Chang-style confluence of carnicentric excess and pan-Asiatica that I can see making the most sense during animalistic bouts of marijuana-driven binging."
He enjoys the alligator and cubes of beef tongue, but finds "some terrifically ill-conceived starters and large plates," and even thinks that the "more-promising-sounding dishes can be subject to disastrous execution." A few highlights include agedashi sweet-potato tater tots, the cone of oxtail rice and the "underground salad." However, for being "fundamentally" a sushi restaurant, "the specialty house makimono and "classics" feature the surfeit of ingredients, incomprehensibly clashing textures, and muddled flavors that represent the worst excesses of the nonpurist school of fish."
Although Sula finds a far less ambitious menu at Yuzu, it "unfortunately doesn't treat fish any more seriously." The skewers are "mostly fine" and although the restaurant is "simple and flawed" it has "a few more things going for it than the far more audacious Union." He appreciates the BYOB and the "young, hyperkinetic, and likable staff." Overall, what Sula thinks of the sushi-kushiyaki trend: "in its current state this a trend I wish would be nipped in the bud until someone can do it right." [Reader]
Pat Bruno feels transported upon arriving at Arami. He finds the atmosphere "gardenlike" with the atrium "giving the room an indoor-outdoor, yin/yang feeling that is comfortable and casual yet stimulating." The menu offers a "nice range of choices," which is "the work and artful creativity of chef and co-owner B.K. Park." The special sashimi, he finds to be "a pleasing journey of textures and flavors." [Sun Times]