- Elizabeth Gomez
- Orange rush, Kai Zan
The big news in Chicago sushi over the last month was the abrupt departure of itamae B.K. Park from Arami, which since its opening has been regarded by most who think about these things as one of the best—if not the best—sushi joints in town. After Park left, Arami quickly retooled and reopened, but it’s still too soon to tell if it will maintain the high standard he set.*
Amid all this drama it might have been easy to miss the arrival of Kai Zan just under a mile west on Chicago. Twins Melvin and Carlo Vizconde—late of the Kamehachi chain and Lincoln Park’s Kyoto—opened this tiny BYO in early June, and its renown is snowballing.
I’m not going to say it’s matched the erstwhile Arami in exquisiteness—for one thing, the rice they’re using isn’t as fine. But they are putting together some really nice stuff, including a modest and thoughtful selection of specialty sushi with none of the cream cheese and Krab-stuffed hoo-ha that passes for makimono on nearly every block these days.** I mean stuff like the pictured orange rush sushi, two pieces of lightly cooked salmon-enrobed scallop, topped with a subtle, not-too-sweet citrus glaze.