Sundays have become my main weekend day for hunting for something tasty. Correction — Sundays are just one of the few days of the week when I find myself in search of some dish to please the palate. On this weekend, Chicago was recovering from a rather angry snow storm that left the ground with with a beautiful coating of powder. And then the temperatures rose enough to melt much of the snow and leave the ground glimmering with ice and slush. Needless to say, dealing with snow and ice was not my problem. I had a date with my ego at some restaurant. All I had to do was find the eatery.
After catching up with a few friends earlier for coffee, I was on my way through a section of Chicago’s North Side called Andersonville. Clark Street in Andersonville is a hub for a lot of great eateries and boutiques. I had not driven that far into the heart of the Clark Street stretch before I had noticed a Japanese restaurant that looked like it was open yet empty. I kept driving a few more blocks and nothing had piqued my interest, so I went back towards the restaurant. Destination — Tanoshii at 5547 N Clark Street.
Tanoshii is primarily a sushi bar and there is some other customary Japanese cuisine on the menu. There is the dim, lounge feel that is commonplace in most of the restaurants in Chicago. The sushi bar is quite extensive and there is, of course, seating throughout the remainder of the restaurant but the sushi bar seems to be a main spot. After a while, there were several customers who came in, all who were greeted by the sushi chefs as though they had been coming to the restaurant regularly. Listening to some of their conversations, it was apparent that they were. And after my meal, I understood why.
I started with a miso soup just to warm up a bit from being outside in the chilly air. Instead of ordering from the menu, I opted to be experimental. I handed the menus to the server and told me to recommend three rolls. He had asked if I had any food allergies and if I had any favourite seafood. Aside from a distaste for nuts, there were no food allergies. As to favourite seafood in sushi, I listed eel, tuna, shrimp, and crab. The server took notes and informed me that he would have the chef prepare three rolls for me. When he returned from the kitchen much later, the expression on my face had to have announced shock, awe, rapture, and a few other indicators of what was going through my mind. There was a roll with shrimp, tuna, and avocado. Also was a roll that had yellowtail. The sushi that really had me in love was the soft shell crab. Not only were the rolls full of vibrant colours, but they were the absolute top in taste. The server had told me that it was better for me to eat the rolls without soy sauce. I had noticed that they came sans any wasabi and ginger. Following his recommendation, the first bite was clear that these rolls were outstanding without any accompaniments. I was in sushi heaven.
When I was done, I had a notion to order another roll. Then I had an epiphany — I could always come back again and try a different roll. Of all the sushi bars where I have dined in Chicago, I am going out on a limb when I say that Tanoshii has got to be in the Top 5 list. While I am sure that the chef may have a list of prepared sushi items, being able to put together a wonderful combination of sushi based on a customer’s preferences is not always easy. One thing to note is that the price is expensive. Had the sushi been mediocre or less, I would have complained after receiving the tab. But I had been making plans to return, which means that although I paid a pretty penny, it was worth it. As I was putting on my coat to leave, another thought had passed my mind — I will be one of the regular customers who comes in for a regular meal, which will be the weekends that I get paid. And as I stepped outside and the cold weather smacked me across the cheeks, I smiled. Everything was okay in my world and being fed well was a wonderful part of it all.