Openings: Chizakaya

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 2, 2010 7:30PM

OWLpurplefade.jpg In a city that's trending heavily in recent years towards pubs with thoughtful beer menus and upscale food, the concept of the Japanese-style pub, or izakayas, should be a seamless mesh. While Izakaya Hapa in River North is strumming along with a pedestrian menu, unfortunately the rounds upon rounds of sushi Steven Song served to the stroller brigade at the now-closed Masu Izakaya indicated a disconnect where customers either didn't understand the concept or expected a sushi bar.

Hope is that Chizakaya (3056 N. Lincoln, 773-697-4725) sets the baseline locally for izakayas while putting other bars hopping onto the "gastropub" express that they need to raise their game. Chef/owner Harold Jurado is a Charlie Trotter's veteran whose pedigree includes stints at Japonais and Sunda, so he knows how the balance the fine lines between savory and sweet, and when to load a plate versus tease with an elegant plating. Jurado has tapped L2O vet Robert Rubba as his chef de cuisine. Former L2O sommelier Chantrelle Pabros has crafted a cocktail menu that emphasizes the Japanese concept of washoku, or "harmony of food. " Pabros's program includes a litany of sakes, beers, whiskeys, shochu and house-made syrups, bitters and juices.

The menu follows the break.

Okashi (Snacks)

Black edamame, sea salt 4

Oshinko (seasonal pickles) 5

Barley miso soup 3

Puffed pig ears, togarashi 4

Teriyaki string beans, sesame seed 5

Japanese sweet potato fries, spiced mayo 5

Crispy pork, slow poached egg 5

Raw/Pickled/Salads

Daikon, roasted seaweed, baby anchovies, ponzu 5

Seasonal greens, tofu dressing, crunchy rice 6

Hamachi, bone marrow, garlic, umeboshi 12

Octopus, tomato, cucumber, radish, fish sauce vinaigrette 5

Kombu marinated Tai (snapper), avocado, shiso, lime vinaigrette 11

Home-made basket tofu, bonito, scallion, ginger, soy 7

Beef liver "sashimi," petite watercress, sesame vin 6

Kushi Yaki 3

Chicken gizzards
Chicken skins
Chicken meatball
Chicken and negi

Shishito peppers, bonito
Hakurei turnips
Tomato, shiso

Beef sirloin tip, lime, wasabi
Sweet sausage
Pork meatball
Beef cheek
Beef tongue
Confit octopus

Noodles/Rice

Cold soba, summer vegetables, shrimp tempura 10

House ramen, braised pork, slow poached egg, fish cake 12

Blue crab congee, corn, chives 7

Steamed

Walleye, ginger, scallion 10

Daily gyoza, soy, ra-yu 6

Chawan mushi (steamed custard), radish, dashi 6 with foie gras 11

Fried

Crispy chicken thighs, dashi mayo, mizuna 8

Corn fritter, chili, lime, mayo 5

Age-Dashi Tofu 6

Grilled

Ika (squid), togarashi, lemon vin 10

Whole saba, lemon, cucumber 11

Hamachi kama, ponzu, daikon, ginger 8

Roasted

King oyster, enoki, shimiji mushrooms, soy, lemon-butter 8

Japanese eggplant, sweet miso, apple 5

Clams, beer, black garlic, spiced broth 13

Chicken livers, negi 6

Dessert

Yuzu cake, green tea ice cream 5

Taro, ube, rice pudding 5

Chocolate sesame ganache, puffed barley, soy milk sorbet 5

Ice Cream, daily selection 3

Cocktails

Lie & Cheat
Rice shochu, lychee juice, St. Germain, lime 8

Isao Aoki
Sudachi shochu, yuzu, iced matcha green tea 8

Ume Ume
Sweet potato shochu, plum juice, house-made ginger bitters, umeboshi, ginger ale 8

Shiso Mojito
Sugar cane shochu, shiso leaves, Turbinado sugar, lime 8

Chu Hai
Barley shochu, soda water, lemon 8

Sake by the Glass

Chilled
Tsukosabotan, Junmai, Kochi 6
Light and Clean
Crisp aroma of Rambotan, star fruit, with a bright refreshing finish, hinting of plum

Azumaichi, Junmai Ginjo, Saga 8
Fruity and Fun
Notes of green apple, hints of strawberry, and passion fruit.
Exclusive to Chizakaya by the glass

Daishichi, Kimoto Tokubetsu Junmai, Fukushima 9
Luscious and Rich
Dense and profound character, complex aromatics, herbal, earthy

Dassai Goju Nigori, Junmai Daiginjo, Yamaguchi 7
Milky and Refined
Sweet scented, medium bodied, with notes of coconut and green plantains; dry finish

Warmed

Shirakabegura, Junmai, Kyoto,1800ml
Feminine, soft supple texture
3oz 6, 6oz 12

Kikumasamune, Junmai, Hyogo,1800ml
Masculine, sauvage, dried meat, earthy, incredible depth of flavor
3oz 5, 6oz 10

Small Format: Single Portion

Kikusui Funaguchi, Honjozo Genshu, Niigata, 200ml, 10
Bold and Sweet
Bold warming sweetness, reminiscent of amaretto, with hints of almonds and peaches. Cask strength 18-19% alcohol, great neat, fun on the rocks!

Mizbasho, Junmai Ginjo, Gunma, 180ml, 14
Soft and Gentle
Soft edges with a gentle sweetness, a kiss of melting snow and ripe apricot.

Sake by the Bottle

Kikusui Funaguchi, Honjozo Genshu, Niigata, 200ml, 10
Kubota Senju, Honjozo, Niigata, 720ml, 43
Suigei, Tokubetsu Junmai, Kochi, 300ml, 20
Hakkaisan, Tokubetsu Junmai, Niigata, 300ml, 23
Nanbu Bijin, Tokubetsu Junmai, Iwate, 300ml, 24
Nishi No Seki, Tokubetsu Junmai, Oita, 720ml, 38

Tsukosabotan, Junmai, Kochi, 720ml, 48
served warmed Shirakabegura, Junmai, Kyoto,1800ml, 86
served warmed Kikumasamune, Junmai, Hyogo1800ml, 75

Mizbasho, Junmai Ginjo, Gunma, 180ml, 14
Fukucho Biho, Junmai Ginjo, Hiroshima, 300ml, 30
Azumaichi, Junmai Ginjo, Saga, 1800ml, 123

Dassai 50, Junmai Daiginjo, Yamaguchi, 300ml, 20
Hana Awase, Junmai Daiginjo, Ibaraki, 300ml, 55

Daishichi, Shizen Shu, Kimoto Tokubetsu Junmai, Fukushima, 720ml, 66

Hakutsuru, Sayuri, Nigori, Hyogo, 300ml, 16
Dassai Goju Nigori, Junmai Daiginjo, Yamaguchi, 720ml, 50

Himezen, Sweet Junmai, Miyagi, 720ml, 34

Whiskey
Yamazake, 12 Year, Japanese Blended Whisky 8
Hibiki, 12 Year, Japanese Blended Whisky 15

Elijah Craig, 10 Year, American Whiskey 12
Templeton, Small Batch, American Rye Whiskey 34

Shochu
Kakushigura / Barley 9
Jougo / Sugar Cane 9
Satsuma Hosan / Sweet Potato 11
Awa No Kaori / Sudachi 7
Hakutake “Shiro”/ Rice 10

Beer by the Bottle
Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, Ohio
Eliot Ness, Vienna Lager 5

Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, Indiana
Alpha King, American Pale Ale 7

Goose Island, Chicago, Illinois
Sofie, Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale 6
Matilda, Belgian Pale Ale 22 oz, 14

New Holland Brewing Co., Kolsch, Michigan
Full Circle, KoĢˆlsch 7

Two Brothers Brewing Co., Warrenville, Illinois
Cane & Ebel, Red Rye Ale 7

Lambic
Baird Brewing Co., Shizuoka, Japan
Carpenter Mikan, Fruit Ale 5

Beer on Tap
Sapporo Breweries Limited., Tokyo, Japan
Japanese Rice Lager, 3

Goose Island, Chicago, Illinois
Green Line, American Pale Ale, 5

Kiuchi Brewery, Ibaraki, Japan
Hitachino Nest, White Ale 5