Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
With its chic, modern decor, Sabuku Sushi sticks out a little bit on its more typically bohemian stretch of Adams Ave in Normal Heights. The design scheme is basically black and clear, "onyx and glass," if you will, which is undeniably classy.
Little touches, like the metal chopsticks with machine-cut grooves to increase grip on elusive sushi, give the restaurant a more upscale feel than the myriad, interchangeable casual sushi spots that dot the uptown neighborhoods.
Sabuku's selection of expensive sake and the short menu of cocktails based on sake and shochu (a distilled spirit that's legal to sell without a full liquor license) make the restaurant a good setting for a full dinner experience.
Combining that with the higher price of some rolls, which can hover in the vicinity of $20, makes Sabuku less of a casual stop and more of a destination.
Still, the restaurant runs a series of lunch specials that includes plenty of $5 options. Selected rolls and appetizers receive the discount and it's possible to eat a healthy portion of Sabuku's very good sushi for less than $20 per person.
Nothing really fancy is available on the lunch menu, but the staple spicy tuna roll, salmon roll, et. al. are very well prepared. The rice hasn't been mishandled to the point of gumminess and all the delicate flavors of the fish are apparent. The quality is quite good overall and the simple presentations don't clash with Sabuku's austere fashion sense.
Currently, Sabuku is running a short menu that's entirely dedicated to bacon. Though not available for any special prices, the bacon rolls are worth checking out at any time of day. Bacon isn't particularly suited to sushi making; it's powerful flavor cuts through the delicate balance of rice and nori like a katana through a silken handkerchief; but Sabuku's bacon rolls are nonetheless fun.
Making use of rich ingredients like avocado and spicy aioli, the rolls have a big flavor that satisfies in an entirely different way than something as pristine as a simple sashimi.
There's also an extensive list of veggie sushi rolls, which are priced considerably lower than their fish counterparts and include novel ingredients like asparagus, sweet potato, and pineapple.
3027 Adams Avenue