Mike Sula reviews two new Japanese restaurants featuring kushiyaki, fire-grilled skewers, as well as sushi and specialty maki. River North’s Union Sushi & Barbeque Bar adds to that exotica like an alligator pop, fusion dishes such as uni alfredo soba, and an extensive sake list; Yuzu Sushi and Robata Grill, in East Village, is a humbler, less expensive BYO spot that also offers teriyaki and a few Thai dishes.
In Key Ingredient chef Shawn McClain of vegetarian Green Zebra gamely takes on blood. “My staff was horrifed,” he told our team. “I brought in special dishes to keep everything from touching.” In the tradition of blood sausage, he made a breakfast cake of cow’s blood, Chinese sausage, and grits, which he served with a sunny-side up duck’s egg and grilled crostini, garnished with grated horseradish and—a surprise ingredient he called “serendipitous”—neon green Chicago-style pickle relish. Next up is Nick Lacasse of the Drawing Room, working with whelks, i.e., sea snails.