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torishin - long, and with apologies to Marcel Proust


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torishin - long, and with apologies to Marcel Proust

dickson d | Apr 18, 2003 10:30 PM

In case your hopes are unrealistically high, be advised that Swann does not make an appearance herein.

Torishin is a roadhouse/grill of Japanese style just west of O'Hare in Mount Prospect. Some thread a few months ago made me think of it, though I probably have not been there for 15 years (since before I traded up from Schaumburg to Naperville).

Well, I had a business meeting at 2p up by O'Hare and was heading out for my favorite bowl of Chinese Noodles and soup, when suddenly, like a message from above, "Torishin" was beamed into my head. Hey, I know how to follow omens, portents and oracles, so I jumped on the highway, and zipped to Torishin, not knowing whether it had been closed for 5 years, or exactly where it is anymore. 20 minutes later, there I was - you gotta have faith. Actually, I also know a couple of decent sushi joints around the corner, so it was not a complete leap of faith - I figured at least one must still be in business.

Not disappointed. It is a sorta wood paneled room, with a row of booths on one side, and a counter on the other. At the far end is the cash register, then a small sushi cooler and then a long line of big, empty sake bottles, behind which hides the grill, burners, soup, etc. Interestingly, the grill staff is all Mexican, while all the other help is Japanese.

The menu is not long, about three pages. Sushis, appetizers, heavy on the dumplings, Udon/Soba, and grilled/fried foods. About 8 or 9 entries in each category, including the 4 standards and then 4 or 5 others. Definitely a menu I could work through. The special lunchboxes were a Tonkatsu, a rice curry (sold out by 1), and Saba-Shio and Chicken Yohatamaki (one box). I ordered the last, not really knowing what I was ordering, sort of vaguely thinking the Saba read Soba and I was getting some noodle dish - duh. (I will go off briefly here on different views of serendipity or, at least my own idiocy. I have learned to cherish the dolt within and appreciate the experiences that result from my cluelessness. After all, I am stupid so often that if I had not learned to enjoy it, I would be in a state of near constant mortification which has a certain Lenten charm, I suppose, but only briefly. So I accept and even celebrate the fruits of my moments of inattention - otherwise, I never would have tried calf brains floating in green sauce in the south of France. Okay, sometimes it turns out badly.).

The meal was lovely. The whole place is a little worn down, my lunch box was dented with a corner broken off. The grill and burners have, over the years added that patina of food deposits to the place, darkening the wood, which is dented, and comfortable. The box contained a nice little piece of grilled mackerel with a lemon. Pure and simple. Pretty rice. These little chicken rolls with some radish pieces rolled into them. The chicken was marinated with a little skin on the outside, and at first I was trying to figure out what these little, pickled pigs feet were, but I worked it out.

A standard, touch overdressed, salad was also included, and a little foil pastry cup with tiny, tiny, bits of broccoli was actually the high point. Steamed, very lightly salted, with the tiniest dab of mayonnaise to be discovered at the bottom.

I usually avoid Japanese lunchboxes - the food often seems a set of boring cliches. But this was an elegant little symphony of flavors to amuse and stimulate.

A meal is as much about what you bring to it as what you eat, and somehow, I had been anticipating a meal at Torishin for some months, if not consciously. There was so much risk of disappointment, but it did not disappoint.

The meeting went okay, too. Anyone else have an experience with Torishin? The storefront next to the restaurant calls itself a deli, Maido Deli, I think, but it is really Torishin carryout. I've found the place I shall dine when I am in Rosemont.


It's in a little strip mall on the west side of Busse, just north of Yummy's, and Dempster.
Torishin Japanese Restaurant
1584 S. Busse Rd., Mt. Prospect

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