Yugen is a “promising restaurant” but the experience is not without faults according to Jeff Ruby. Ruby clearly misses Grace, chef Curtis Duffy former restaurant. He starts his review by comparing dining Yugen, which replaced Grace in the same space, to cheating on a partner. When he’s done mourning, Ruby writes about how Yugen chef Mari Katsumura “uses Japan as a springboard while working within the traditional Western framework,” and she creates several memorable dishes. Poached Alaskan king crab is paired with a cured egg yolk, puffed rice and furikake, fried mushrooms, and a frothed uni sauce. The result is a “luscious mix” of salt, fat, crunch, and pop. A “revelatory” sashimi course stars yellowtail with smoking yuzu ice, Okinawa sea grapes, and a sake broth. Katsumura pushes flavors to “weird new frontiers peaks” with her chawanmushi, which takes Japan’s savory egg custard and complements it with uni, foie gras, and Asian pear chips.
Nothing else “quite reaches these heights.” A dish of “aggressively overseasoned roast lamb and duck has none of the nuance or spark that precede[s] it.” Confusingly, Ruby wrote the kitchen forgot to bring out a course of A5 wagyu. The restaurant would later counter and claim they no longer serve the course and Ruby was using an outdated menu as reference for his review. Desserts are “inventive but feel more like experiments than fully realized dishes.” Service also “moves at a breakneck speed, often with no breathing room between courses, as if the staff believes it’s being judged against an impossible standard and is terrified to lose your awe for even a moment.” Nonetheless, “it may be worth a little awkwardness to experience” Katsumura’s inventive flavors anyway. [Chicago]
Finom Coffee is a “delightful” café that offers “the sort of food we should expect alongside a $3.50 cup of coffee,” writes Maggie Hennessy. Housed inside a historic two-story building, the shop “hearkens to Europe’s cozy, time-worn coffeehouses” with a “high-quality lineup” of drinks and “hearty” Hungarian small plates. Gulyásleves is a “nourishing” soup teeming with “silky” beef knuckle, sweet Gypsy peppers, and flour-and-egg dumplings, while an “unctuous” pate of veal brain and chicken liver is spread on toast and topped with watermelon radish and edible flowers. Mushroom paprikás is also worth licking the bowl, featuring enoki mushrooms, truffles, nokedli, and caviar in a mushroom-and-paprika sauce. Drinks include a “fragrant” Turkish delight latte made with espresso, steamed milk, ground cardamom, and rosewater syrup and finished with dried rose petals. [Time Out]