Nestled in the heart of the West Loop of Chicago sits a small 8 person restaurant called Omakase Yume. Recently given a Michelin star, their sushi is unlike anything else in this town. If you are a true sushi lover, I implore you to go as soon as you are able. The cost is $250 per person for the menu, and any additional items are priced separately.
When we arrived at this lovely little spot, we were happily greeted by the waitstaff. Each seat was booked and labeled by the person assigned to that seat. The restaurant was cozy, warm and welcoming and felt as though we were transported to Japan.
The intimate setting only enhanced the experience overall. The restaurant crew waited patiently for the remaining 6 guests to arrive before beginning service. My husband and I had ordered a lovely bottle of Sake to get us started. Their sake menu was quite wonderful and when asked about pairings with the sushi, their recommendation was perfect.
To start off the night, we were given Chawanmushi, a delicious dish of steamed egg with a miso sauce and mushrooms to coat it. It was served in a small ceramic bowl and wooden spoon. Though simple in presentation, this dish is highly complex in its flavors. It was a lovely way to start the meal.
The egg melted in our mouths and opened our palates for the next dish served.
The first piece of sushi to delight our tastebuds was Hirame or Fluke. The Chef prepared the fish right in front of us, slicing the meat ever so gently. He used his speed and experience to limit the amount he held the fish thus limiting any flavor variants that body heat can cause. A very small amount of freshly made wasabi was placed beneath the fish as it was laid on a bed of sushi rice flavored to perfection.
While the restaurant provided chopsticks, we chose to go the traditional way and eat with our hands. Each piece of sushi was brushed gently with a layer of soy so there was no need to dip this fish in anything. The best, and only, true method of eating this was in one fell swoop. Just as you were taking the fish off your plate, the Chef was preparing to lay down another. In this case, Madai or Red Snapper.
This was one of our favorites. The flavor of the sea came through, not to mention the sweetness of the fish itself. That small hint of salt from the soy sauce and the melt-in-your-mouth texture to the fish made this particular dish heavenly to devour. Watching the Chef was almost as mesmerizing as eating the food itself.
It was only matched by the items that came after.....
Tuna. A treat for all who love sushi (fish in general but in this context...). Tuna is a highly sought after fish in this industry. There are 3 levels of Tuna; Fatty, Medium and Lean. Many argue that fatty Tuna is the best, however, I disagree. I think Lean is one of the best ways to eat this because it highlights the fish. the intricate and delicate flavors of the fish itself is what makes this cut one of the best. Don't misunderstand, you cannot go wrong with any of these, but you should open your mind and palate to more than what streamlined media tells you about sushi. Follow your palate. See where it takes you.
The next two pieces were delightful, but not quite as memorable as the previous courses. We were served Sawara, also known as Spanish Mackerel, and Hiramasa or Yellowtail Amberjack.
Next we had a lovely piece of Sake or salmon that was lightly kissed with a blowtorch. The salmon was just lightly cooked on the outside giving a crunch for texture, and perfection on the inside allowing diners to taste the beauty of this fish and giving the Chef the ability to highlight the best parts of it. The fish was scored very carefully to allow for a beautiful pattern to emerge once toasted.
As we neared the end of this menu, we were presented with Botan Ebi or sweet shrimp sushi. Admittedly, this was the first time I'd ever had shrimp sushi. It looked stunning and was only matched by the natural sweetness of the crustacean.
The next course was one that took us by surprise. We had eaten all of this lovely sushi, and were suddenly presented with a bowl of sushi rice and a smoked piece of Grilled Miso Black Cod. The dish looked so simple, but again the Chef made it clear that this was anything but simple.
The flavors played with us. The taste danced on our palates, unable to discern each other from the next and yet working together in the most harmonious way like the tango of dishes. Despite us being full at this stage, we could not put it down. This was the second to last dish on the tasting menu that night and what a dish it was.
Finally, we were treated to a beautiful piece of Anago or eel. Something that delights the palate and cleanses at the same time. It was light and wonderful and a great way to end...or so they thought...
My husband and I knew that this was a rare treat for us to eat sushi like this. We opted for 2 additional pieces. The first of these was Uni or sea urchin. This is a treat for anyone. It has the texture of butter, the sweetness of the sea and the flavor of wonder. Only made better in the winter when Uni is at its sweetest.
The final piece we tried was called Isaki or Threeline Grunt. We had never heard of Threeline Grunt fish let alone eaten it! We were eager to try it, and it became one of our favorites of the night.
Once we had consumed our meals, the gluttons we are, they served the perfect dessert to end the night. We were presented with a beautiful Matcha Panna Cotta, flavorful and light leaving one with a sense of satisfaction rather than over filled stomachs.
Overall, this was the best sushi experience I had ever had. While things are tough now with everything going on globally, I look forward to coming back to this restaurant and bringing more people with me to have this kind of experience.
For more information on what we had, here is a snapshot of the menu: