Michelin-starred Omakase Yume debuts new West Loop izakaya
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.