One beautiful, gourmet, quick, and filling sushi meal for less than twenty dollars—if you asked me a few weeks ago about a lunch so perfect, I would’ve told you it was impossible. It wasn’t until a recent trip to Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill that I knew just how good-looking (and tasting!) seafood could be.
A few Saturdays ago on a Chicago day trip, West Chicago Avenue welcomed my friends and me with the sights and sounds of nearby Mexican restaurants. The quarter-mile radius from our parking space was an odd one, as though a street plucked straight from a Spaghetti Western scene. We began our trip with a step into an authentic cowboy boot store reminiscent of those in Jackson Hole (bolo ties, leather-string jackets, dream catchers and all). The miles of authentic snake-skin and cow-hide boot lined shelves would prepare us in no way for where we’d go next.
Only short walk from the cowboy boot emporium, the restaurant we’d reserved at table at was on the smaller side (in comparison to the cowboy boot jungle we’d only recently left), nothing showy, but the large glass windows gave it the presence of a grander space. We liked how it was modern, ~hip~, and had water in tin mugs. (What other restaurants can you think of with water in mugs?) With a clear view of the sidewalk and street, Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill was the perfect perch for people-watching. Local “cart racing” transpired on the sidewalks nearby, providing us with free and funny entertainment. Participants donning Trump wigs and newscaster suits, Beatles costumes, and fake mustaches with police badges ran in groups of four, pushing decorating shopping carts down the street.
But, that’s enough about not sushi—let’s cut to the chase.
Soon after we inhaled our appetizer, the Mango Avocado salad, we were served our “edible art,” as put by senior Erisa Farimani. Junior Mary Kennelly’s meal was served first, and what struck us most about the “Green Harbor” was the sheer quantity. It was “a lot more sushi than at other restaurants, but for the same price,” Erisa remarked. On the sushi itself, junior Skye Miller, who got the same dish, said, “I like how the vegetables were fried. And the sweet potato. It was really good. Wicker Park is the best place to be.” With an A-ok hand gesture, she finished, “ten out of ten.”
As for the next plate laid on the table, Aryana Farimani’s “Dragon Ball” sushi, our jaws hit the floor and our hearts skipped a beat. “It was so beautiful, I didn’t even want to eat it,” Aryana gushed. The sushi tray was painted with vibrant sauces and dashed with colored spicy mayo in the formation of a traditional East Asian dragon. To even imagine eating it seemed a crime, a lawlessness as fitting as fingernails dragged down the Mona Lisa. Gazing, drooling over the art before us, we wanted to draw out the sushi’s beauty for as long as possible.
So, in accordance with the natural order of things, it was understandable that we had to preserve the beautifully plated meals within our phone galleries. In that moment, blowing up Snapchat and hovering cell phones above the table, we were more fully aware than ever before of why teenagers are universally abhorred. But, the food’s beauty was justification enough (even if it was obnoxious).
Back to the sushi.
“I saw the restaurant on Facebook or Newsie or something,” Aryana shared. “It was so pretty and tasted amazing. I remember someone was talking about it and saying, ‘it’s probably just pretty and not that good.’ But, they were wrong!”
Shocked that the price tag of Yuzu’s sushi was only a few dollar less than the school’s, Erisa remarked, “It’s only a dollar or two more than at other sushi places, but so much fresher and so much more, in terms of how much we were served.”
Of all the surprises that came with our trip to Yuzu, from the price to the presentation to the fact that the restaurant is generally unheard of in the high school, what we found most surprising was the mouthwash feature in the bathroom (which the five of us mistakenly thought to be hand soap). “I thought it was really fresh,” Mary joked, “best part of the meal.”