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Do you fugu?

Ai's fugu sashimi. (Photo ©2012 by Leah A. Zeldes.)

Ai's fugu sashimi. (Photo by Leah A. Zeldes.)

Chef Toyoji Hemmi does. The only licensed specialist preparing the delicately flavored but potentially poisonous Japanese blowfish between New York and Colorado, Hemmi is currently preparing a variety of seasonal fugu dishes at Ai Japanese Restaurant and Lounge in River North.

A six-course whole fugu feast for two, $338, offers hirezake, fugu fin in hot sake; fugu mikawa sunomono, steamed fugu skin with daikon, wakame and cucumber in tosa-su vinaigrette; fugu usuzukuri, sashimi-style fugu; nikogori, fugu in savory gelatin; fugu nigiri zushi; fugu and monkfish nabe, a Japanese hot pot cooked tableside, and a finish of fugu-free yuzu sorbet.

If you’re not ready for an all-fugu feed, you can still get a sample with a number of a la carte preparations ranging from $7 to $40.

The fugu dishes require paid reservations at least 48 hours in advance.