It's been a while since I've made a card (don't consider them good enough to be called "reviews" haha) about Chicago restaurants, so here's one I went to a couple of months ago:
Japonaise is located slightly west of the loop, on Chicago Ave. I'd say it'd be about a 20 min walk from Michigan & Chicago, and less than $10 when you take a cab from Michigan Ave.
As its name suggests, it's a Japanese restaurant heavily influenced by French cuisine. We were originally looking for sushi, but decided to try this place out after someone suggested it to us.
We were a party of three, and we had the following:
- Black Cod Cartoccio
- Viking Scallops
- Lobster Spring Rolls
- 7 pieces of sushi (I can't remember which ones :( )
- Crispy Shrimp & Salmon Rolls
We didn't order of the main menu items which included the more French-influenced dishes such as the "Le Quack Japonais"
Now, the roll was decent, with the crunchiness not too soggy as is often the case with poor "crispy rolls." But I must say, the sushi/sashimi were a little disappointing. Freshness was good, which in itself is not always the case in the Midwest, but they were cut paper-thin. Look, I don't expect massive thick slabs of raw fish - that's just as bad - but this actually made me think, "are they being stingy with their sushi?"
For me, the best of the night were the appetizers. The lobster spring rolls were delectable, but the winner was the Cod Cartoccio. It was a Cod filet in some kind of delicious soy-based sauce with vegetables and mushrooms, all steam-cooked inside a plastic (?) bag so that the fish & vegetables would soak up all the sauce. The fish was super-soft and the sauce was not too salty, as American restaurants tend to be. I honestly wanted a bowl of rice to just to eat the sauce with :P
Many people at other tables were eating "The Rock," which is thinly sliced beef presented on a hot piece of rock. It looked good too, though I didn't order it because it seemed more for show than actual taste.
Overall, the strength of the appetizers compared to the sushi/sashimi made me think that this place offers better cooked dishes. But I think there are many other places that could offer similar cuisine for better value.
The interior and lighting are really nice though, so if you have a big date...I hear their cocktails are $7 during happy hour.
Best: Cod Cartoccio
Worst: Paper-thin sashimi, the bill
Bottom line: Fairly enjoyed it, but wouldn't go back.
*Didn't take pictures so they're from the web*