Japonais, a restaurant made famous shortly after opening over 10 years ago by visiting celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie, recently underwent a remodel, and added a star chef to its roster – Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, that is. Chef Morimoto completely revamped the menu, and the restaurant underwent cosmetic changes, which included the addition of a new sushi bar, open kitchen, new first-floor bar for Japanese vodkas and whiskeys, and a shochu bar. The items Chef Morimoto added to the menu highlight the most popular dishes from his national and international restaurants.
I recently visited with my husband, and we were both extremely impressed, not only by the excellent and perfectly executed food, but by the service, as well. Chef Morimoto was in the house, stationed behind the sushi bar, and the kitchen was visibly running on all cylinders. I have a food allergy, and our server and the kitchen went above and beyond the call of duty in order to not only accommodate me, but to make sure my dining experience was in no way inhibited as a result. That extra effort went a long way in my book.
My husband began with the hamachi tacos, served diced with avocado, serrano peppers, yuzu kosho, in a crispy wonton shell. He devoured every tasty morsel.
We then enjoyed some fresh and delicious 1871 oysters, complete with three different sauces – traditional cocktail sauce, a fish sauce, and a ceviche, as well. I prefer my oysters with just a squeeze of lemon and they were wonderful, especially with my glass of Champagne!
Next came one of my favorite dishes of the night, the karai king crab, which was highly recommended by our knowledgeable server. Served warm with a spicy aioli, micro cilantro “guacamole”, and a remarkably good crab salad served layered between thin biscuits, I could easily enjoy this dish on a daily basis.
We then enjoyed some tuna, hamachi and salmon sashimi, as well as the soft shell crab roll, prepared with asparagus, avocado, scallions, and spicy sauce. While the maki roll was quite good, the salmon, or sake, sashimi was even better.
Even after all of this deliciousness, we saved the best for last – a ridiculously good roasted sea bass, with kale two ways and cipollini onions. The fish just melted in my mouth and the flavors were phenomenal. This dish solidified my belief that Japonais is back and better than ever, thanks to Chef Morimoto.
Even after so many wonderful dinners at Japonais in years past, none compared to this most recent experience. I cannot wait to return again very soon.
600 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654