Chef Macku Chan, the engine behind respected eponymous Japanese dining spot Macku Sushi, in late April formally announced the closure of his Clybourn Avenue restaurant after a dozen years. The restaurant’s demise is sad news for its fans, many of whom shared well wishes and memories of past meals on social media.
Fortunately for Chicago, Chan’s sushi talents are still on display at his newest establishment, Komo, a decidedly non-traditional Japanese restaurant that debuted in fall 2021 at 738 W. Randolph Street in the West Loop. The restaurant was originally Latin American-Japanese fusion, but the owners decided to drop the Latin American aspect.
“This restaurant, it’s really about telling the story between Macku and myself,” owner Nils Westlind, who previously owned Spanish spot Ronero, which occupied the Komo space from 2017 to 2019, told Eater in 2021. He also owns Esco Bar, the cocktail lounge upstairs.
Westlind and Chan’s friendship dates back more than 20 years (they met when a teenage Westlind was working in a pet store in Evanston and Chan came in looking for help with a monkey), and the pair have spent the last decade concocting a restaurant that would represent a mashup of their respective experiences and backgrounds. The result, we now know, was Komo — a portmanteau of kaiseki and omakase, as well as a play on “como,” Spanish for “I eat,” as a nod to California-born Westlind’s childhood in Colombia.
As the name promises, Komo’s menu blends some conventions of kaiseki, a highly formalized multi-course culinary genre, with omakase, presenting a seven-course meal ($160) that includes delicate chawanmushi (savory egg custard) with burgundy truffles and sea urchin, as well as the always-popular A5 wagyu beef on a sizzling hot stone. A la carte options are also available, including lobster croquettes with Japanese curry, miso black cod, and grilled lamb chops (Indian eggplant, spicy Asian slaw).
Komo is designed to evoke a more “mature” dining experience than Ronero, Westlind previously told Eater — fewer sake bombs, more pours of high-end Japanese whiskey. A tight cocktail list includes options like Hello Kitty (The Botanist Islay Gin, hibiscus-guajillo chili syrup, pineapple juice) and lychee martinis, alongside a solid selection of high-end sakes and a few Japanese beers.
With 82 seats, Komo fits few patrons than Ronero did, a tweak Westlind attributes in part to the pandemic. Instead of creating a dark, cavernous sushi den, he and Chan opted for a light and bright color scheme with a Carrara marble bar, spacious teal booths, whitewashed brick walls, and pops of blush pink from faux cherry blossom trees placed around the space.
Komo isn’t the first Chicago restaurant to juxtapose Japanese and Latin flavors, but Chan’s renown and its noteworthy location on the West Loop’s Randolph Restaurant Row set it apart from those with similar themes, like Mansion on Rush, and traditional high-end sushi venues such as Omakase Yume, Mako, and Momotaro.
Explore Komo’s intricate West Loop location in the photos below.
Komo, 738 W. Randolph Street, Open 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.