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Arami’s sushi rolls
Javier Perez

The 10 Essential Japanese Restaurants in Chicago

Find some of the best sushi, robata, ramen, and more

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Arami’s sushi rolls
| Photo by Javier Perez

Between fresh fish, strong whiskies, and from-scratch noodles, there’s much to love about Japanese dining — and luckily for Chicagoans, the city is now seeing some of its most exciting takes on the cuisine yet. From piping hot bowls of ramen and robata-style skewers, to crazy fresh sashimi and nigiri, here are Chicago’s best choices for Japanese fare now.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Mitsuwa Marketplace

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100 E Algonquin Rd
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
(847) 956-6699
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This market opened its doors in Arlington Heights in 1991, and since then, it’s been serving as one of the largest Japanese grocery stores and food courts in all of the Midwest (quickly gaining the reputation as “The Mall of Japan”). Come 365 days a year for favorites like tonkatsu, ramen, and Japanese-style burgers, along with a series of other Asian eats — dim sum, bibimbap, and kalbi have also been spotted at stands.

Mochi nuggets at Mitsuwa Marketplace
Facebook/Mitsuwa Marketplace

2. Kitsune Restaurant and Pub

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4229 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 687-9179
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Fans of Iliana Regan’s cooking will know they’re in the right place upon entering this cozy corner spot, which is brimming with some of the chef’s signature animal-inspired quirks including chopsticks that rest on a porcelain rabbit and red fox pitchers to hold broth and guard the kitchen pass. Kick things off with one of the team’s house made sodas (make it the Galangal ginger beer) before delving into texture-driven starters like green garlic chawanmushi and steamed scallop gyoza with charred turnips. A donabe hot pot is packed with mackerel and serves as the perfect accompaniment to an umami-rich bowl of ramp ramen noodles. No matter how full people are, don’t miss the doughnut, a billowy, whiskey glazed phenomenon that will give a new meaning to the word nightcap.

Kitsune’s koji porridge bread
Iliana Regan

3. Raisu Japanese Fine Dining

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2958 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 961-7299
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In addition to high-quality sushi and sashimi, this Irving Park newcomer is becoming best known for its omakase menu, a multi-course experience customized to the customer’s flavor preferences and budget. For those going a la carte, stick with go-tos like the toro sashimi and seasonal whole fish, served sashmi-style. For tastes a bit less traditional, sample through a medley of signature maki, such as the Inferno Dragon (with white tuna, fried smoked salmon, and fried jalapenos) or the Hi Jack (with tempura shrimp, cream cheese, and unagi sauce).

Raisu’s scallop sashimi
Raisu Japanese Fine Dining [Official Photo]

4. Juno Sushi Chicago

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2638 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 935-2000
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This Lincoln Park restaurant is frequented for chef BK Park’s omakase menu, a dining experience featuring a generous array of appetizers, nigiri, sashimi, and hand rolls. Start with tastes of Kumamoto oysters with Japanese mignonette or king crab dressed in Kobe butter, and save room — more than 20 courses are offered in total. Those ordering off the menu can do so with signature bites, such as the smoked hamachi (Japanese amberjack sashimi smoked in a glass dome) and the uni shooter (accompanied by orange zest, cucumber, and wasabi tobiko). Pair it with an extensive list of premium sake or one of their house cocktails — namely the chamomile mule or spiced matcha flip.

Juno’s smoked hamachi dish
Izui Photography

5. Izakaya Mita

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1960 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 799-8677
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This family-owned Bucktown restaurant has one of the largest sake selections in the city, and that list is rounded out by a carefully curated selection of shochu, Japanese whisky, and beer. It’s all meant to accompany its array of Japanese pub-inspired plates, a selection ranging from takoyaki and edamame, to binchotan bites and rice sliders. Do try some of the house favorites, too, such as the okonomiyaki (a savory pancake with shredded cabbage and ground mountain yam) and the house made chicken meatballs, with ginger, shiitake, and shiso. Come brunch hours, all eyes are on the omuraisu, an omelette-topped bed of fried rice.

Izakaya Mita’s omuraisu
Brian Mita

6. Furious Spoon Wicker Park

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1571 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 687-8445
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There are now seven locations of this fast-casual, Tokyo-style ramen shop, which specializes in handmade noodles and plenty of hip-hop tunes to accompany them. At the helm of the restaurants is Michelin-starred chef Shin Thompson, who has gained a steady following for bold bowls like the pork shoyu (with tonkotsu broth, chashu pork belly, and nori) and the holy cow (with chili-infused noodles, spicy beef bone broth, and fresno chilies). And then, of course, there’s the namesake, a menu item comprised of tonkotsu broth, chashu pork belly, chicken dumplings, and fury sauce. Try it with the signature margarita, a glass of Libelula tequila, Combier, and habanero syrup that packs its own heat.

Furious Spoon’s holy cow ramen
Facebook/Furious Spoon

7. Arami

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1829 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 243-1535
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Traditional Japanese cuisine meets forward-thinking fare at this six-time Bib Gourmand award-winning restaurant, where two kitchens work together to offer eaters a comprehensive dining experience. For a front-row vantage point of the team’s handiwork, grab a seat at the sushi counter. It’s here where guests can watch as their plates are prepped, from tuna tartare with pickled Asian pear and black tobiko, to the beloved trio maki roll, complete with tuna, salmon, hamachi, cilantro, and chili oil. Make sure it’s all happening alongside the Ichi No Torii, a junmai-style, custom-brewed sake made exclusively for the restaurant from Omuraya Brewery in Shizuoka.

Arami’s maki
Javier Perez

8. Sushi-san

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63 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 828-0575
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The team behind River North noodle den Ramen-san opened up this sushi-centric outpost, where hip-hop and hyper fresh seafood are the specialties. The vibes are perfect for post-work groups in need of solid, shareable fare, which is found in plates like shrimp toast nigiri bombs and san-sets (the Mr. Maguro packs in 10 pieces of Bluefin tuna alongside a maki roll). Dessert is an absolute must — make it the Japanese pancakes with matcha butter and Okinawan black syrup or an order of the nama chocolate, cubes of crazy-smooth ganache dusted in coconut charcoal.

Sushi-san’s sushi sets
Zoe Rain

9. Katana

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339 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 877-5544
Visit Website

This River North restaurant is all about customary styles of Japanese comfort food, from robata-style dishes, to bold, clever riffs on familiar sushi offerings. Bamboo-skewered items are grilled over traditional Japanese binchotan charcoals from the seaside village of Wakayama, resulting in smoky, bite-sized takes on Chilean sea bass, American wagyu steak, and chicken wings. Sushi enthusiasts should go straight for rolls like the smoked eel (with avocado, cabbage, and karashi aioli) or the spicy tako (with Spanish octopus, spicy tuna, and jalapeno).

Some of Katana’s sushi
Francis Son

10. Momotaro

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820 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-4818
Visit Website

Seasonal Japanese cuisine is the focus at this Fulton Market destination, where chef Mark Hellyar serves a menu comprised of plates best enjoyed shared. Start with house favorites like the ikejime hirame (flounder sashimi with 12-month-aged citrus ponzu) and the mentaiko spaghetti (a rich serving of noodles dressed in spicy cod roe and parmesan) before checking out a sampling of the kushiyaki, their take on yakitori. Shigeru Kitano oversees the sushi program, an entire menu page devoted to elevated strips of nigiri and flavor-forward maki (try the zuke salmon, a smoky six-pack of salmon skin, citrus, and ginger). A just-sweet black sesame custard meets orange curd and smoked milk tea sorbet for a light, satisfying finale.

A sample of Momotaro’s fresh fish
© 2016 Galdones Photography

1. Mitsuwa Marketplace

100 E Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Mochi nuggets at Mitsuwa Marketplace
Facebook/Mitsuwa Marketplace

This market opened its doors in Arlington Heights in 1991, and since then, it’s been serving as one of the largest Japanese grocery stores and food courts in all of the Midwest (quickly gaining the reputation as “The Mall of Japan”). Come 365 days a year for favorites like tonkatsu, ramen, and Japanese-style burgers, along with a series of other Asian eats — dim sum, bibimbap, and kalbi have also been spotted at stands.

100 E Algonquin Rd
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

2. Kitsune Restaurant and Pub

4229 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
Kitsune’s koji porridge bread
Iliana Regan

Fans of Iliana Regan’s cooking will know they’re in the right place upon entering this cozy corner spot, which is brimming with some of the chef’s signature animal-inspired quirks including chopsticks that rest on a porcelain rabbit and red fox pitchers to hold broth and guard the kitchen pass. Kick things off with one of the team’s house made sodas (make it the Galangal ginger beer) before delving into texture-driven starters like green garlic chawanmushi and steamed scallop gyoza with charred turnips. A donabe hot pot is packed with mackerel and serves as the perfect accompaniment to an umami-rich bowl of ramp ramen noodles. No matter how full people are, don’t miss the doughnut, a billowy, whiskey glazed phenomenon that will give a new meaning to the word nightcap.

4229 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

3. Raisu Japanese Fine Dining

2958 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60618
Raisu’s scallop sashimi
Raisu Japanese Fine Dining [Official Photo]

In addition to high-quality sushi and sashimi, this Irving Park newcomer is becoming best known for its omakase menu, a multi-course experience customized to the customer’s flavor preferences and budget. For those going a la carte, stick with go-tos like the toro sashimi and seasonal whole fish, served sashmi-style. For tastes a bit less traditional, sample through a medley of signature maki, such as the Inferno Dragon (with white tuna, fried smoked salmon, and fried jalapenos) or the Hi Jack (with tempura shrimp, cream cheese, and unagi sauce).

2958 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60618

4. Juno Sushi Chicago

2638 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Juno’s smoked hamachi dish
Izui Photography

This Lincoln Park restaurant is frequented for chef BK Park’s omakase menu, a dining experience featuring a generous array of appetizers, nigiri, sashimi, and hand rolls. Start with tastes of Kumamoto oysters with Japanese mignonette or king crab dressed in Kobe butter, and save room — more than 20 courses are offered in total. Those ordering off the menu can do so with signature bites, such as the smoked hamachi (Japanese amberjack sashimi smoked in a glass dome) and the uni shooter (accompanied by orange zest, cucumber, and wasabi tobiko). Pair it with an extensive list of premium sake or one of their house cocktails — namely the chamomile mule or spiced matcha flip.

2638 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

5. Izakaya Mita

1960 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Izakaya Mita’s omuraisu
Brian Mita

This family-owned Bucktown restaurant has one of the largest sake selections in the city, and that list is rounded out by a carefully curated selection of shochu, Japanese whisky, and beer. It’s all meant to accompany its array of Japanese pub-inspired plates, a selection ranging from takoyaki and edamame, to binchotan bites and rice sliders. Do try some of the house favorites, too, such as the okonomiyaki (a savory pancake with shredded cabbage and ground mountain yam) and the house made chicken meatballs, with ginger, shiitake, and shiso. Come brunch hours, all eyes are on the omuraisu, an omelette-topped bed of fried rice.

1960 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

6. Furious Spoon Wicker Park

1571 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Furious Spoon’s holy cow ramen
Facebook/Furious Spoon

There are now seven locations of this fast-casual, Tokyo-style ramen shop, which specializes in handmade noodles and plenty of hip-hop tunes to accompany them. At the helm of the restaurants is Michelin-starred chef Shin Thompson, who has gained a steady following for bold bowls like the pork shoyu (with tonkotsu broth, chashu pork belly, and nori) and the holy cow (with chili-infused noodles, spicy beef bone broth, and fresno chilies). And then, of course, there’s the namesake, a menu item comprised of tonkotsu broth, chashu pork belly, chicken dumplings, and fury sauce. Try it with the signature margarita, a glass of Libelula tequila, Combier, and habanero syrup that packs its own heat.

1571 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

7. Arami

1829 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Arami’s maki
Javier Perez

Traditional Japanese cuisine meets forward-thinking fare at this six-time Bib Gourmand award-winning restaurant, where two kitchens work together to offer eaters a comprehensive dining experience. For a front-row vantage point of the team’s handiwork, grab a seat at the sushi counter. It’s here where guests can watch as their plates are prepped, from tuna tartare with pickled Asian pear and black tobiko, to the beloved trio maki roll, complete with tuna, salmon, hamachi, cilantro, and chili oil. Make sure it’s all happening alongside the Ichi No Torii, a junmai-style, custom-brewed sake made exclusively for the restaurant from Omuraya Brewery in Shizuoka.

1829 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

8. Sushi-san

63 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Sushi-san’s sushi sets
Zoe Rain

The team behind River North noodle den Ramen-san opened up this sushi-centric outpost, where hip-hop and hyper fresh seafood are the specialties. The vibes are perfect for post-work groups in need of solid, shareable fare, which is found in plates like shrimp toast nigiri bombs and san-sets (the Mr. Maguro packs in 10 pieces of Bluefin tuna alongside a maki roll). Dessert is an absolute must — make it the Japanese pancakes with matcha butter and Okinawan black syrup or an order of the nama chocolate, cubes of crazy-smooth ganache dusted in coconut charcoal.

63 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654

9. Katana

339 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60654
Some of Katana’s sushi
Francis Son

This River North restaurant is all about customary styles of Japanese comfort food, from robata-style dishes, to bold, clever riffs on familiar sushi offerings. Bamboo-skewered items are grilled over traditional Japanese binchotan charcoals from the seaside village of Wakayama, resulting in smoky, bite-sized takes on Chilean sea bass, American wagyu steak, and chicken wings. Sushi enthusiasts should go straight for rolls like the smoked eel (with avocado, cabbage, and karashi aioli) or the spicy tako (with Spanish octopus, spicy tuna, and jalapeno).

339 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60654

10. Momotaro

820 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60607
A sample of Momotaro’s fresh fish
© 2016 Galdones Photography

Seasonal Japanese cuisine is the focus at this Fulton Market destination, where chef Mark Hellyar serves a menu comprised of plates best enjoyed shared. Start with house favorites like the ikejime hirame (flounder sashimi with 12-month-aged citrus ponzu) and the mentaiko spaghetti (a rich serving of noodles dressed in spicy cod roe and parmesan) before checking out a sampling of the kushiyaki, their take on yakitori. Shigeru Kitano oversees the sushi program, an entire menu page devoted to elevated strips of nigiri and flavor-forward maki (try the zuke salmon, a smoky six-pack of salmon skin, citrus, and ginger). A just-sweet black sesame custard meets orange curd and smoked milk tea sorbet for a light, satisfying finale.

820 W Lake St
Chicago, IL 60607

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