Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area

Yoshi's and Zoom (long)

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Yoshi's and Zoom (long)

dickson d | Sep 3, 2003 12:04 AM

Okay, it was a weird holiday weekend - celebrating the anniversary by staying downtown, doing some theater, some food, some entertainment (the Miss Continental competition at the Vic was quite entertaining), trying to stay warm and dry, but I shall not digress lest I be banished to the "Not Food" board! Anyway, a meal report follows this digression, I swear.

Once I got downtown and hit Hot Tix, I realized I wanted a special meal for the anniversary, so I vainly tried to get into Spring (first choice, but even on Labor Day Sunday, forget it - they suggest 2-3 weeks notice for weekends, but weeknights are usually not bad), Blackbird (yes, I know I am flying in the face of some mixed reviews, but it seemed closed anyway), 160 Blue and more, no luck. So I had "settled" on Ixcapuzalco, but sitting in the theater my mind wandered (for the musical was not good, and I am pretty certain I was not the target audience for Menopause, the Musical), and I realized Yoshi's was just a hop away, so on the way to Ixca we stopped in. I will do Ixca later this month in any case.

Got a nice corner table in back at 5p on Sunday, so we could watch the place fill up, which it did. The crowd seemed to lean heavily to regulars, based on greetings from the help and overheard conversations. I guess after 20 some years, that is not a surprise. Yoshi seems to have gone further towards Asian, and more away from French as the years have gone by. The meal started with an Amuse of grated ginger, thin noodles, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers in a light juice of some sort (not sure). Light and fresh. The bread, which they bake there, is a bit different - a rolled dough, chewy with a crisp crust, almost a swedish bread. Slightly buttery. Served with a tomato salsa, almost a chunky gazpacho. No butter or oil served, and we did not ask for any. The theme for the night was going to be light.

My bride chose the gazpacho served in a tomato, and I took a lobster appetizer special, poached, I think, wrapped in rice paper, served in a citrus cream sauce with a cone of thinly sliced radish enclosing a little mixed green salad in the middle. Both presentations were lovely, and the gazpacho and homegrown tomato were very good (I did not taste them and that is the total report I received). The lobster was again very simple, lightly seasoned, and generally not too exciting. Nothing wrong with it, really, but it just seemed blah to me.

Continuing my anniversary extravagance I went with the Kobe Beef carpaccio special for my main course. A Kobe strip, seared on the outside, then thinly sliced and served basically raw. Maybe the lightest touch of soy. Served with grated horseradish (not green wasabi)and a trio of dipping sauces. I have never had Kobe before, and this was exquisite - great by itself, great with just the horseradish, or the bbq sauce, the Ponzu sauce or the citrus/soy (my favorite).

The bride contented herself with a tasty Saffron Pasta with grilled scallops (on a "rosemary brochette") and mussels in a wine/cream/tomato sauce. All the ingredients were good, and done right, but all you really got was the seafood, wine cream and garlic. The Saffron (in the pasta itself) was pretty much lost and for a meal so heavily slanted to simple and pure presentations, this was a surprise. Seemed like some corporate concoction designed to stand out on a menu. But it tasted good, and the bride finished it and was happy.

We ended on the ABC (anything but chocolate) desert plan. I have fallen into this habit of late, based on the conclusion that the chocolate deserts are there to cater to the diners, but the non-chocolate ones are there for the pleasure of the chef. I had the Green Tea Yogurt Mousse with berries, and the bride had the expresso creme brulee. Perfectly executed and flavorful creme brulee. The Mousse was not sweet at all, though the poached rhubarb (not mentioned on the menu) served with it and creating the sauce, added some sweetness. By itself, you got almost a creme fraiche effect (less dense, but very close) with a hint of green tea, more a cleansing desert. With the rhubarb you got the stewed fruit with a touch of cream and tea. Quite lovely. I commend to you the ABC plan (but do not confuse it with the ABC wine plan, which is a foolish overreaction to a fad).

Reasonably priced for what you get, gracious service, pleasant room. You can easily eat there for $40 each before drinks, though my extravagances took us above that. Yoshi still delivers. And it left us ready to continue our gala night with energy. Oh, they sent us home with a little bag of praline-flavored meringues, which were a real treat in the hotel room before bed.

Next day after some aimless wandering, we went to the Zoom Kitchen for lunch. Decent food, good deal. The soups were all good, and the carved sandwiches quite nice. My meatloaf and mashed potatos were not so great (turkey loaf with too sweet tomato chutney and gravy with mostly pepper flavor). We had picked up the 96 year old aunt, and found ourselves once again in a place where we could not hear her. Guess I need to reconnoiter first.

Yoshi's Cafe
3257 N. Halsted St.
773-248-6160

Zoom Kitchen
923 N. Rush St.
312-440-3500

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