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Review Tue Dec 11 2012

Hamachi Sushi Bar: It's Kosher

sushi1.jpgThere's a tiny neighborhood joint in West Rogers Park that plays Israeli music and has waiters wearing kippahs serving a clientele made up of mostly devout Jews. The only thing that looks out of place is the food: sushi. This is Hamachi Sushi Bar, Chicago's first and only kosher sushi restaurant.

The interiors are simple and minimal to the point of almost being clinical -- which is pretty much the opposite of how I'd describe most of the food. The Spicy Seafood soup was the exception. I started my meal with this bland miso soup that had a scant amount of faux crab and shrimp meat. It left me yearning for more flavor.

And flavor I got!

Every starter I tried, from Crispy Rice (a toasty rice bar topped with spicy tuna and pineapple salsa) to Crunch Shrimp (deep fried faux shrimp, spicy tuna covered with a yellow pepper sauce, mixed greens and picked cucumber), was overwhelmingly salty, vinegar-y and sweet at the same time.

sushi2.jpgThis casual restaurant is not for authentic sushi lovers. Most of the signature maki rolls are laced with overbearing sauces. There's the Black Spider roll (black rice, faux crab katsu, avocado, cucumber and topped with seared spicy salmon and sweet soy sauce), which essentially tasted like chewy globs of vinegar. And then there's the befuddling Blue Man Group (tuna, white tuna, salmon, avocado, jalapeno wrapped with "Blue Crunch," spicy ginger sauce, pineapple salsa and spicy mayo) that assaulted my taste buds. Hamachi's best rolls the ones that are kept simple, such as Sweet 2 (an intriguing combination of sweet potato tempura and shiitake mushrooms) and Green Goddess (tempura zuchinni, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, spicy mayo and spinach), which had a nice balance of ingredients.

My meal ended on a decent note with dessert: soy ice cream covered in pound cake, topped with a deep berry sauce and non-dairy whipped cream. It was achingly sweet and a good alternative to mochi ice cream. Still, the real thing is so much better.

The prices are affordable compared to other sushi establishments, with each option ranging from about $9 to nearly $20. But considering Chicago has plenty of delicious sushi restaurants around town, it's probably not worth the visit unless you really just want to eat kosher sushi.

Hamachi Sushi Bar
2801 W. Howard St.
Tel. 773-293-6904

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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