Hoodline | March 6, 2020

In search of a new favorite Japanese spot?

Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the best high-end Japanese restaurants around Chicago, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of where to venture next time you’re on the hunt.


1. Kai Zan
2557 W. Chicago Ave.

Topping the list is Kai Zan. Located at 2557 W. Chicago Ave. (between Rockwell Street and Maplewood Avenue.) in West Town, the sushi bar, Asian fusion and Japanese spot is the most popular high-end Japanese restaurant in Chicago, boasting 4.5 stars out of 1,017 reviews on Yelp. On the menu, look for the Orange Rush, featuring scallops wrapped in salmon with a citrus glaze.

The site can tell you a thing or two more about Kai Zan.

“Kai Zan is the brainchild of local sushi legends Melvin & Carlo Vizconde,” per the history section of the business’s Yelp profile. “Also known as the sushi twins. With modern and traditional cooking techniques the twins will create an omakase dinner experience that you will come back for over and over again.”

In terms of signature items, “Kai Zan offers a one-two punch with the culinary creativity of identical twin chefs Melvin and Carlo Vizconde,” it states on Yelp in the section explaining specialties. “Customers can state their personal taste preferences upon arrival and then take delight in the individualized maki and sushi creations.”


2. Sunda Chicago
110 W. Illinois St.

Next up is River North’s Sunda Chicago, situated at 110 W. Illinois St. With four stars out of 2,805 reviews on Yelp, the sushi bar, Asian fusion and Japanese spot has proven to be a local favorite for those looking to indulge. The menu includes gluten-free and vegan options.

The site has lots more information about Sunda Chicago.

“Sunda is named after the prehistoric Southeast Asian landmass which, when the glaciers melted after the last ice age and water levels rose to create new trade routes, became a rich culinary intermingling of cultures, spices, ingredients and cooking styles,” the business states in the history section of its Yelp profile. “Helmed by renowned Executive Chef Jess DeGuzman, Sunda showcases modern and progressive takes on traditional dishes from Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and the rest of the Southeast Asian Island region, celebrating both the area’s cuisine and culture. Sunda is cut from the fabric of what embodies all Rockit Ranch Production venues — by allowing options and flexibility on the menu, it affords the guest the ability to choose the dining experience of their liking without sacrificing amazing food quality, excellent service or highly sophisticated surroundings.”

In terms of signature items, “Sunda New Asian is an award-winning restaurant at the vanguard of America’s New Asian movement showcasing Eastern Asian and Southeast Asian regional cuisine,” it states on Yelp in the section about specialties. “Simple, flavorful dishes are served and shared while a full sushi bar provides an assortment of sushi, sashimi and nigiri options. The beverage program revolves around a progressive list of premium sakes, Asian beers, champagnes, wine and a seasonal craft cocktail list.”


3. Roka Akor
456 N. Clark St.

Roka Akor, a sushi bar, steakhouse and Japanese spot in River North, is another high-traffic, pricey go-to, with four stars out of 1,181 Yelp reviews. Head over to 456 N. Clark St. to see for yourself. Look for dumplings and miso soup on the menu.

Regarding signature items, “Roka Akor is a stylish prime steak, seafood and sushi restaurant that features Robatayaki style ‘open charcoal’ cuisine that is located in Chicago,” it writes on Yelp in the section highlighting specialties. “The freshest fish is flown in daily, and sushi and sashimi are carefully handpicked by region and seasonality.”


4. Momotaro
820 W. Lake St.

Over in West Town, check out Momotaro, which has earned four stars out of 996 reviews on Yelp. Treat yourself at the sushi bar and Japanese spot, which offers noodles and more, by heading over to 820 W. Lake St. (between Green and Halsted streets). The spot also offers sashimi and rice on the menu.

The site can tell you a thing or two more about Momotaro.

“Much like the Japanese delicacy it is named for, Momotaro takes root in the vibrant Fulton Market District,” the business says in the history section of its Yelp profile. “Momotaro continues the philosophy of chef-driven concepts focusing on tightly executed cuisine and highly personalized service.”