With temperature rising into the 90s, a heavy meal is the last thing I crave. For me, sushi is the ideal eats during the summer. Sushi, Japanese vinegar rice, is usually topped or rolled with seafood or vegetables. Japanese sushi comes in different forms. The most common forms are: maki (rolled sushi); nigiri (hand shaped sushi); oshi (pressed sushi); chirashi (toppings placed over a bowl of rice); and nare (fermented sushi). It’s important to note that sashimi, thinly sliced fresh raw seafood served without rice, is not considered sushi (common misunderstanding among sushi novices).
History of sushi
According to an article from Sushi-Masters.com, the origins of sushi can be traced back to 4th century BC in Southeast Asia. Cleaned and gutted fish were salted and kept in rice so that the natural fermentation of the rice would help preserve the fish. A fresh water fish such as carp was often used for this type of sushi, and was called the nare sushi (ripe sushi). The rice aided in the fermentation process and also made it quicker to prepare the fish. The rice was discarded after the fermentation was complete (a period of 2 to 3 months depending on the season) and only the fish was eaten. Needless to say, sushi has evolved, taking on distinctive regional characteristics here in the states.
I recently had the chance to visit some Chicago sushi spots that left me with a smile on my face and my stomach pleasantly full. Oh Fusion and Kanok serve up Japanese food with a twist. The restaurants incorporate American and Asian influenced cuisines on their menus. At Oh Fusion, you’ll even find clam chowder on the same menu page as miso soup!
At Oh Fusion you can expect the unexpected. The restaurant’s sleek black-and-white décor and cozy ambiance is great for special celebrations or just a night on the town with friends. Bacon sticks, garlic bread, clam chowder and risotto are just a few unique dishes that are new to their menu. The restaurant also features a wide range of noodles, curry dishes, soups and salads.
The sushi here is phenomenal. Most sushi places tend to use a lot of rice with an itsy-bitsy slice of fish. Oh Fusion, on the other hand, serves generous portions of fresh fish, just how I like it. For sushi lovers who like a spicy kick, try their Ocean Drive Maki. This roll is made up of spicy yellow tail, jalapeno, cilantro, cucumber, mango, and topped with fresh tuna. For those who like a little crunch in your roll, their Caterpillar Maki is the one for you. This roll consists of freshwater eel, cucumber, mayonnaise, tempura crunch and sliced avocados.
If you have a late-night craving, Oh Fusion also offers delivery from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.; this is a great alternative to greasy pizza. Their late-night menu includes dishes such as fried rice, vegetable tempura, Udon noodle soup, and set boxes with combinations of sushi served with a choice of an appetizer and soup or salad.
Oh Fusion, 3911 N. Sheridan, Chicago, IL
Kanok is a great place to just kick back and savor some good Asian eats. Located on Broadway — where there’s a sushi restaurant on every other block — Kanok’s menu totally stands out from the rest. In addition to sushi, you can get your fill of Asian cuisines such as Kung Pao Chicken, Korean Barbequed beef ribs and salmon teriyaki. Along with the noodle and rice dishes, this hip sushi spot also serves omelets, burgers, breakfast and sandwiches on their menu.
Kanok’s menu has an impressive list of specialty maki, nigiri and sashimi. I’m a huge fan of the Fired Dragon Maki. This roll is made with spicy tuna, avocado, unagi, and topped with sweet unagi sauce. If you’re looking for a roll with tons of fresh fish, try the Rainbow Maki. This specialty roll includes kanikama, cucumber, avocado, and topped with assortment of fresh fishes like tuna and yellow tail.
Kanok, 3422 N Broadway, Chicago, IL