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'Focused' Naoki Sushi Impress Sula; Crain's Calls Arbor a Sleeper Hit; More

But Ugo's Kitchen & Bar in an inconsistent mess

Naoki
Naoki
Barry Brecheisen

Mike Sula praises Naoki for staying "focused, reverent, but still a lot of fun." Chef Naoki Nakashima shows restraint, letting the ingredients shine. On the signature sashimi plates, "perfect, glistening" pieces of fish are arranged like flower petals, with a delicate garnish and a bit of oil. There are several sashimi options but in each case, the "Japanese-appropriate dressings don't fuck with the integrity of the fish." He shows similar skills on other offerings: "light, almost translucent" mackerel is lifted with "just a touch" of yuzu-chili paste while the "lush fattiness" of red salmon is given a "lick" of smoked soy. And the tamago at the core of a salmon-miso maki is "probably the smoothest omelet [Sula's] come across in a sushi bar." In the end, it's a refreshingly gimmick-free experience that doesn't disappoint. [Reader]

Arbor is a hidden "virtuoso" worth your attention, according to Graham Meyer. The restaurant, located on the second floor of the Green Exchange, offers a modest-yet-delicious lunch menu. Among the sandwiches, the espresso-cured roast beef "vies for best in show" with the grilled cauliflower, cranberry mostarda and MontAmore cheese. Just as good is a salmon and shrimp banh mi on a long, crusty roll that tastes like a "sunny ceviche submarine." The grazing board "crams in more than a dozen miscellaneous delights," including eight-year-aged cheddar, malted-rye butter, shaved Serrano ham and more. As for service, cooks also serve so it makes you feel like "you're at the house party of a food-obsessed and wickedly competent friend of a friend." [Crain's]

New Italian eatery Ugo's Kitchen & Bar "frequently fails to deliver" and consistency "varies wildly from dish to dish," Elizabeth Atkinson writes. Starters are a high point as "pungent and crisp" fried Parmesan and an "earthy and vinegary" beet salad are solid options. Unfortunately, entrees don't fare as well and include a "so-so" black-pepper-heavy carbonara pasta. The worst, though, is the pizza featuring crust that's "dry and powdery with very little flavor." Even desserts are a miss€”too-sweet banana cream pie is "heavy and hard to finish." [TOC]

Naoki Sushi

2300 N. Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 868-0002 Visit Website

Ugo's

, Chicago, IL

Arbor

384 Hayes Street, , CA 94102 (415) 626-1211 Visit Website

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