After 10 years in business on Chicago Avenue, Japonais added Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame to freshen up a restaurant and lounge that lost longtime chef Gene Kato to his own restaurant, Sumi Robata Bar. Morimoto's changes and branding to the menus and space are drawing stargazing diners from around the city. Open since February 5, here's the early word on Japonais by Morimoto.
The Nitty Gritty News: You're probably wondering how different the menu really is, and according to RedEye's Samantha Nelson, it's "entirely new." She also says the new space, which now has an elevated sushi bar and an open kitchen, has a "sophisticated look." [RedEye]
The Makeover News: Urbandaddy compares the before, "An East-meets-West pleasure dome, filled with celebrities eating sushi" and after, "Brighter interiors; an elevated sushi bar; plus the obvious change: The chef is now a celebrity. [UrbanDaddy]
The Something Went Wrong News: Food blogger Everything Erica was disappointed with her experience of the pork gyoza dumplings. "I mean, how can you go wrong with garlic chives, puttanesca and bacon foam?" she writes. "The tomato puttanesca sauce at the bottom just didn't go well with the dumplings at all and the bacon foam was a little slimy." [Everything Erica]
The Booze News: Morimoto is stamping his likeness behind the bar as well, as Zagat's Sarah Freeman reports on his shochu bar that carries the celebrity chef's "own lines of sake, beer and shochu." [Zagat]
The Made to Order News: Anthony Todd from Tasting Table raves that the "tofu made table-side is a nail-biting adventure." Quoting a sous chef, he says it "only works 60 percent of the time, and diners are instructed not to bump or tap the table while the tofu is doing its thing. But it's worth the 15-minute-long wait." [Tasting Table]
The Rice News: When Michigan Avenue's Meg Mathis asked Morimoto what ingredient he can't live without, he chose rice. "In my restaurants, I care so much about rice. We buy brown rice and polish it with a rice milling machine on site to retain moisture." [Michigan Avenue]
· All Japonais by Morimoto Coverage [-ECHI-]
· Japonais by Morimoto [Official Site]
Eater Chicago intern Aimee Gasior contributed to this story.