Miche­lin-starred Omakase Yume de­buts new West Loop iza­kaya

Chicago Sun-Times - - TASTE - BY NAOMI WAXMAN

Anew ca­sual iza­kaya-style spot in the West Loop neigh­bor­ing Miche­lin­starred sushi res­tau­rant Omakase Yume has opened for lunch and din­ner ser­vice. TenGoku Aburiya fea­tures a menu de­signed in large part by Omakase Yume chef Sangete Park, and the iza­kaya is from the same own­ers.

Park and his team have had to re­think some menu items since the project was first an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary — be­fore the coro­n­avirus trans­formed the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try in Chicago and around the world. They ini­tially planned to of­fer Korean-style ra­men, but re­fo­cused noo­dle of­fer­ings to fo­cus on udon, a hefty, wheat-flour noo­dle.

“We’re ex­pect­ing to do a lot more take­out in terms of lunch ser­vice,” says co-owner Calvin Pip­ping. “Ra­men doesn’t hold up well for take­out — it gets soggy and the tex­tures don’t keep their in­tegrity. Udon gives a bit more con­sis­tency from a take­out ap­proach.”

Park’s speed-fo­cused lunch menu prof­fers sev­eral noo­dle op­tions like Maze Soba” (ground pork, ground fish flakes, sea­weed, green onion, chives, minced garlic, se­same seeds, egg yolk, side of rice) and sea­sonal spe­cials such as cold “Bukkake Udon” (daikon oroshi, kenkasu, kaki­age, tsuyu). There’s also a num­ber of don­buri, or rice bowls, plus small bites like takoy­aki (fried balls of oc­to­pus, teriyaki sauce, mayo, bonito flakes).

The din­ner menu fo­cus pri­mar­ily on bin­chotan kushiyaki, grilled and skew­ered items that are cooked over im­ported Ja­panese bin­chotan (a high-heat char­coal). Park weaves the Korean fla­vors he grew up with into a se­lec­tion of bar-friendly Ja­panese dishes like kushiyaki (grilled skew­ers) and kim­chi okonomiyak­i (sa­vory pan­cakes). On so­cial me­dia, own­er­ship writes that “tengoku” trans­lates to “heaven,” while “aburiya” means “grill.”

TenGoku Aburiya also fea­tures a smat­ter­ing of kushiyaki op­tions such as gyu­tan (beef tongue), tsukune (chicken meat­ball), pork belly, shishito pep­pers, and more. Other yaki, or grilled dishes, in­clude kalbi and Park’s black cod kama mis­oy­aki, his sig­na­ture dish at Omakase Yume.

Park has built his Chicago rep­u­ta­tion on sushi, so it’s no sur­prise that a few items like kan­pachi aonori (am­ber­jack, sea­weed pow­der, se­same oil) and a chef ’s choice sashimi set ap­pear on the din­ner list­ing. When it comes to drinks, Pip­ping has promised sake, beer, wine, and cock­tails such as Ja­panese high­balls.

At 2,000 square feet, the res­tau­rant — which shares an ad­dress at 651 W. Washington Boule­vard with its sushi-sling­ing sis­ter spot — is large enough to give staff some ex­tra wig­gle room when it comes to ta­ble ar­range­ments. . TenGoku Aburiya also has a very small out­door pa­tio space that holds three or four two-top ta­bles. The space has a ca­sual, or­ganic aes­thetic with a nat­u­ral wood bar, walls, and floors, and a spikey bon­sai that dwells on a cor­ner of the bar.

TenGoku Aburiya, 651 W. Washington Boule­vard, Open 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mon­day through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Satur­day.

Orig­i­nally pub­lished on chicago.eater.com.


Menu items at TenGoku Aburiya in the West Loop.

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