Chest-high stacks of plywood are everywhere you turn. Dodging electrical cords feels like a game of double-dutch. But by the time some dig into stockings and sip eggnog, traditional Japanese charcoal pits and loose stone gardens will make these construction necessities a distant memory. Welcome to Sumi Robata Bar (702 N. Wells), chef Gene Kato's "lifelong goal."
Kato, the former Japonais chef, is masterminding one of the most anticipated openings of the year with only his wife alongside, calling it a "mom and pop operation." Two Japanese terms, iori (Japanese firepit) and sumi (charcoal), sum up Kato's clear vision: experiencing authentic robata (northern Japanese grilling), a 16-seat communal bar surrounding, with minimalistic Tokyo decor. It's so simple, yet so rare. "The focus is not to introduce my style or interpretation," Kato says. "It's about staying true."
[Rendering via Sumi Robata Bar and Charcoal Bar]
Look for an array of grilled fish, meat, and vegetables; the first selection of Japanese pastries in Chicago, and rare Japanese melons. The exclusive Charcoal Bar sits underneath, with Matthew Lipsky helming Chicago's introduction to Japanese chipped-ice bartending, with only 12 seats available for walk-in only. A 20-seat patio will feature cabanas, loveseats, and a Japanese raked dry garden. A separate second-floor lunch concept, the idea under lock and key, is coming in eight months. Odds are there will be charcoal.
· All Sumi Robata Bar Coverage [~ECHI~]
· Sumi Robata Bar [~ECHI~]