Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Macku

Location: 2239 N Clybourn Ave.
Cost: It depends. Of my two visits, one was $20 per person and the other was $60.

I used to be this big food TV junkie. I think DDD was the first show I got in to. Then I started watching Top Chef rather religiously. Soon after that I was watching most anything with the exception of Paula Deen and Hell's Kitchen. I don't know if you all have seen that South Park episode where Randy aspires to be a professional chef, but let's just say I was one step down from his food TV obsession. Anyways, I've since come down from that and practically don't watch any food TV anymore. Still, there's a big void in my viewing schedule around 10pm on Sundays, and I often find myself watching Chicago's Best (my roommates really dislike the host, so I can only watch if they're not around). The point of all of this is that they did an episode on Chicago's best sushi and featured a place right down the street from me... Macku. Over the past few weeks I went there twice, once with my friend Dana, and another time with Fintz and the Schneider siblings.

Logistics
Macku is not a large space by any means. They take reservations, and I suggest you make them. I went one of the times without a reso on a weekend, and we got lucky with a 15 minute wait. They have a small array of tables, or you can choose to sit at the sushi bar.

The service is pretty attentive, but both times I found it a bit annoying how much the waiters were pushing the most expensive menu items on us. So as far as cost goes, the trick is to go on a weekday and use a restaurant.com gift card. On top of that, I like to check out this website called bradsdeals because they always have an additional discount code for restaurant.com. Basically it works like this: You buy a $25 gift card for $15 minus whatever discount the code is for (usually around 80%). You end up with a $25 card for $3. The restrictions are that you have to use it on a weekday, you have to spend at least $35, and you have to tip 18%. It comes out to a pretty sweet deal though if you go mid week.

Like I said at the top, the cost can be variable. If you want a bunch of rolls, the bill we be pretty similar to most other sushi spots in town (rolls from $4-$12 depending on specialty and such). However if you want to take advantage of what they have to offer that makes them unique, you could end up spending quite a bit. They have a bunch of signature sashimi dishes around $15. The soup options (which are a must) come to around $6. A final option you can choose is to just tell the chef that you want to spend some certain amount per person and let him create the menu for you. I bet you could do this reasonably anywhere from $50-100 per person.

The Food
I'm going to throw together the two meals even though they were kind of different. So for appetizers I've tried the Tuna Tartare Special, the Edamame, and the Udon Soup. The stand out dish of these was definitely the soup. The broth was complex and pungent. The fish cakes added a ton of flavor as well. This was the best Udon soup I've had in years (and it was 95 degrees outside when I ordered it).

The Udon Soup

The Edamame


I tried two of the signature sashimi dishes, the Kanpachi (amberjack) and the Mebachi (big eyed tuna). The amberjack was a really substantial piece of fish and may be my favorite item of the two meals. The mebachi was nothing short of delicious either with a hint of chive and truffle oil over the tuna.

 The Mebachi

From there I had a decent assortment of rolls and nigiri. The noteworthy items were the Madai (sea bream) nigiri, the unagi roll, and the hamachi ebi tempura roll. The fish was universally fresh, crisp, and not overly sauced. I also really enjoyed the spicy tuna hand roll, but I haven't really ever had one of those I didn't like.

An assortment of rolls
Overall
Sushi restaurants are tough to compare. As long as the fish is of a high enough quality, a lot of the places blend together in my mind because the menus are pretty similar. Macku's strengths are its truly unique menu items and it's wonderful selection of soups. If you come for just rolls, you probably won't see why this place is so great. It may cost a bit more, but go ahead and get a few signature items. I'm giving Macku 4.5 out of 5 Pearls.


Macku Sushi on Urbanspoon

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