There are ways to experience Kumiko. I endorse each. In Kumiko’s eating room, you could choose among a dozen bites — small but complicated flavors, nicely numerous — while playing the cocktail wizardry of creative director and partner Julia Momose. “As a cocktail party with the arena’s great hors d’ oeuvres,” is how Momose describes the enjoy, and they are only bragging a little.
Downstairs is a lately excavated basement space domestic to Kikko, a 10-seat counter that serves a multicourse menu, to be had with novel beverage fits (cocktails and sake, for instance, or sake plus wine). Either manner, you’ll get to revel in the food of chef de cuisine Mariya Russell, who is a chef to watch. Russell cooked in such local eating places as Green Zebra, The Bristol, and Nellcote earlier than becoming a chef Noah Sandoval at his first Chicago eating place, Senza. A few years later, Russell rejoined Sandoval at his acclaimed Oriole. When Sandoval and Momose created Kumiko, which opened at the end of 2018, Russell has become chef de delicacies.
Start with the upstairs. The eating room is pretty, minimalist but heat, and the natural-wood tables are roomy. But if you can take hold of one of the eight-bar seats, by using all manner, accomplish that. This is where visitors can engage with Momose, who labored at The Aviary for two years and developed the cocktail program for the past due, lamented GreenRiver.
At Kumiko, the Japan-born Momose focuses the bar program on Japanese spirits; as a consequence, her Old-Fashioned is made with Japanese whiskey, shochu, and French Banyuls, and her Sea Flower — which I loved — combines Japanese gin, vermouth, and yuzu kosho in a tumbler rimmed with “ocean dust” (Momose’s blend of nori powder, salt, and sugar). She’ll also create three-drink cocktail flights, exploring the nuances of daiquiris and Sazeracs, amongst others.
Listening to Momose’s in-intensity explanations of the flavors and inspirations that go into her liquids is captivating (even though if there had been a pop quiz in a while, I’d be doomed), and simply watching her work — her no-wasted-motion shaker method ought to be on an educational video — is to appreciate a true seasoned.
Alongside Momose’s alchemy is a list of about a dozen an l. A. Carte bites, priced from $three (for a chunk of fowl-liver mousse with fermented kumquat) to $thirteen (for a uni handroll with smoked-soy glaze and furikake). You can pattern every considered one of them for about $a hundred; however you’ll be pretty full. (Which, complete disclosure, didn’t stop me.)
Go for the king salmon sashimi, rolled with torched lardo and crowned with toasted genmai, and kampachi nigiri crowned with white-sturgeon caviar. Sushi-rice granita serves as a frozen mignonette over oysters, alongside smoked roe and coriander vegetation; thinly sliced sweetbreads are prepared katsu style, matched to the candy-and-sour sauce.
About three bites’ worth, steamed buns are packed with quick rib, red meat stomach, or braised shiitakes; when you have the most effective one, make it the shiitake. However, I’d get all 3. At Kikko, the 10-seat counter, in the fashion of a sushi bar, presents the identical kind of interactive revel in as does Kumiko’s bar; simplest right here, it’s Russell who’s front and center. Russell’s 12-course omakase menu ($one hundred thirty) begins (or commenced; no question matters change) with butter-poached scallop with caviar, finger lime, and puffed rice. There’s salmon sashimi right here, too, this time brushed with shio koji. It is topped with Mariya’s togarashi, a crunchy blend of sesame, buckwheat, puffed salmon pores and skin, and kalamansi vinegar.
There’s a nigiri trio of aged made, Spanish grilled prawn and glazed uni, accompanied using poached and seared mackerel with kombu sabayon. A simply excellent route functions tofu crowned with green almonds and fried bonito flakes. One dish commonplace to each menu is the dessert, consisting of toasted Japanese milk bread, topped with fermented honey ice cream and garnished with clean truffle. It’s surely the simplest dessert, upstairs or down, however at Kikko, Russell factors out, “you may see how it’s completed,” as the chef blow-torches the thick squares of bread. The choice: Stay upstairs and watch the notable bartending craft, or assignment downstairs to look at a talented chef in motion? The solution must be apparent — both.
- 630 W. Lake St.
- Tribune rating: Three stars
- Open: Dinner Wednesday-Sunday
- Prices: Bites $three-$13, omakase menu $one hundred thirty
- Noise: Conversation-pleasant
Ratings key: Four stars, wonderful; 3 stars, amazing; two stars, excellent; one famous person, excellent; no stars, unsatisfactory. Meals are paid for with the aid of the Tribune. Food Bowl is back!