Takashi (Restaurant, Bucktown)
Chicago foodies must be discerning in the world of fusion restaurants. Slapping two different regional cuisines together might make a restaurant interesting but it doesn’t make it good. But if you’re looking for a safe bet then put your chips on Takashi, a French/Japanese small plate restaurant in Bucktown simply named after the Chef, James Beard award winner Takashi Yagihashi.
The place is tiny and the plates aren’t much bigger but each item is so exquisitely executed that even when you think you’ve had a similar dish before the tastes quickly inform you otherwise. We’ve all had Spring Rolls of course, but when the caviar is actually good caviar and they’ve implanted tiny bits of baguette instead of tempura to give that enjoyable crunch to the soft sushi, the dish’s originality is quickly overshadowed by its flavor and texture. The Soy-Ginger Caramel Pork Belly is essentially a deconstructed Pork Bun (the Chinese dim sum dish known as char siu baau) but the belly is so perfect in itself atop pristine pillows of steamed dough I might never be able to eat a traditional Pork Bun again. Everything else was fantastic as well but I could eat these two items alone at their intimate bar with a glass of Hachino Nest Beer and find inner peace.