When I saw Yusho under construction during the summer, I immediately made a mental note to check it out. Any new addition to the restaurant scene in Hyde Park is worth a try, especially with so many well-established favorites that have been in the neighborhood for who knows how long.
That being said, there aren’t many higher-end Asian restaurants in the area. Your choices are limited to The Sit Down Cafe, sushi at Shinju and carry out from Nicky’s Chinese food. Yusho, however, fills that gap wonderfully.
Yusho specializes in Japanese cooking using a binchotan, a searing hot grill popular in Japanese cuisine. However, many of the menu items feature a fusion twist such as the fried chicken steam buns and Japanese-Loaded Fries. The drink menu is also extensive (there are more beverage options than food options) with an assortment of whiskeys, sodas and authentic Japanese sakes. The ambience and decor are cozy but contemporary with splashes of bright color.
When I went there on a Saturday night, the place was filled save for a few seats at the bar. However, the bar seats ended up being great spots because I had the opportunity to observe the amazingly organized cooking staff.
Japanese-Loaded Fries // Photo courtesy of Matthias Merges
We started with the Japanese-Loaded Fries, a favorite, according to our waiter. The fries were fried to a crisp and dressed with kimchi gravy, bacon and an assortment of herbs. No complaints there.
To follow, we tried all of the assorted steam buns. Crispy tofu, cornmeal-crusted oyster, twice-fried chicken and glazed pork belly were served with different sauces and condiments on top of soft, fluffy steam buns. My favorite was the pork belly steam bun; the fattiness of the pork belly contrasted well with the freshness of the cucumber and bean sprouts.
Of course, we couldn’t go without trying any noodle dishes, so we ordered the Logan Poser Ramen and Mentaiko Carbonara. The former featured a skewer of tender fried pig’s tail, cucumber and a silky 60 minute egg. While the ramen was pretty darn good, it was nothing compared to the star of the night, the Mentaiko Carbonara.
The Mentaiko Carbonara is composed of handmade squid ink bucatini pasta from A10 bathed in a creamy carbonara sauce and topped with scallions and a perfectly poached egg. The pasta had a delightfully chewy texture and was not overly salty, and the combination of egg yolk and the carbonara sauce was to die for.
To top off the meal, our waiter gave us a free dessert, the Chocolate Donut. The bite-sized donuts were warm and moist and served with a dash of green tea matcha powder, Asian pear jelly and hazelnuts — a seemingly strange combination, but it was the ideal balance of chocolate and fruitiness, softness and crunch.
I definitely plan on returning to Yusho specifically for the carbonara, though the other dishes were just as original and delicious. I would definitely recommend Yusho to self-proclaimed foodies looking for a unique interpretation of Asian cuisine.
Address: 1301 E 53rd St, Chicago, IL 60615
Phone Number: (773) 643-1652
Hours of Operation: 4-11 pm daily