The owner of one of West Town’s most revered Japanese restaurants plans to open a new fast-casual spot inside the former Halal Guys/FireFin Poke Shop space along Milwaukee Avenue. The ownership behind Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill wants to open Yuzuya Asian Grill in January at 1415 N. Milwaukee Avenue. If successful in Wicker Park, owner Yut Vong wants to open additional Yuzuyas downtown and in the West Loop.
While Yuzu — a full-service restaurant — focuses on Japan, Yuzuya will be a Pan Asian and assembly line-style restaurant with rice bowls, said Yuzu social media manager Paracha Vongphattarakul. The goal is to give customers a quick and healthy lunch using the same quality ingredients as Yuzu including hormone- and antibiotics-free beef, chicken, and salmon. Meat-free options will include tofu and a selection from Beyond Meat. Ownership is still considering which Beyond option they will use. Customers will also be able to add a variety of veggies and three sauces: teriyaki, curry, and Thai-style yum yum. The offerings will come on either white or brown rice. No noodles.
Ownership wants to keep the costs down to grab repeat customers who will visit a few times a week. The bowls should cost between $8 to $10, Vongphattarakul said. They’ve remodeled the space and there’s seating for 20. They’ll partner with all the major delivery companies, Vongphattarakul added.
Yuzu opened eight years ago along Chicago Avenue, before developers and real estate agents began describing the West Town strip to would-be restaurant owners as an alternative to pricey Randolph Restaurant Row in the West Loop. This part of West Town now includes very popular restaurants Arami, Roots Handmade Pizza, Funkenhausen, Soulé, Forbidden Root, and the newly opened Porto. It serves sushi, skewers, and noodles, and its bento box lunch specials are among the best in town.
As Chicago restaurant owners battle through tough financial times, the news of a family-owned restaurant pivoting into the world of fast-casual restaurants is a new narrative. Stay tuned for updates.
Yuzuya Asian Grill, 1415 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Scheduled to open the second week of January.