B.K. Park [Photo: Chicago Reader]/[Photo: Jason Chan]
After a few months of waiting after news broke of the location, there's finally more details arising about Jason Chan and B.K. Park's joint Japanese spot Juno. For starters, they finally took control of the old Merlo space two weeks ago and they're shooting for an April opening. There will be 80 total seats in the 2500 square-foot space, down from 94, creating a more comfortable dining environment. That number includes a 16-seat 30-foot sushi bar with a menu-less reservation-only seven-seat Omakase bar on one end. In describing the concept, Chan says "we want to do something very simple and very powerful."
Chan describes the food as "contemporary Japanese, focused on seafood." The menu will feature 70 percent sushi and sashimi, in Park's focused style, meaning they'll sacrifice fish quantity for quality. The rest will be hot food with classic structure and a contemporary twist. "We're not reinventing the wheel," Chan says. Look for a selection of chicken, pork, and beef among them.
On the beverage side, keeping with the focused theme, there will be only five seasonally-rotating cocktails and small lists of sparkling, sake, wine, and craft spirits. The beer menu will be small as well, look for a selection highlighting Japanese beers and white ales.
A clean, minimalist vibe highlights the decor. The dining room will be simple and classic, with skylights to take advantage of the daytime sunshine. Chan says they chose the location because previous ownership left the space immaculate. The service will professional yet comfortable, sans kimonos.
There will be an exclusive ticket-only guest chef series on one Sunday night a month where each chef will collaborate with Park on a private menu for just seven of their best customers. The first is Schwa's Michael Carlson.
Chan and Park spent a fortnight researching in Asia, now they're ready to get underway. "B.K. is under a microscope," Chan says. "Everybody is waiting to see what he's going to do. We didn't want to rush into anything." There's a good chance people will be rushing to Juno in April, however.
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