Serious Eats: Chicago
The Vegetarian Option: Yusho
Last year, my colleague Roger wrote about a couple of the vegetarian options at Yusho. I recently ventured to Yusho for the first time, loved my meal and wanted to share a couple more dishes. It's been almost two years since Matthias Merges opened Yusho, but they are still going strong. I can understand why friends in the restaurant industry rave about this place.
One of several specials for the day was a bok choy salad ($5). I've always sautéed bok choy in a wok and it never even occurred to me to eat the vegetable raw. This was quite a refreshing variation and I was impressed with the quality of the vegetable. On its own, raw bok choy has nice crunch, but admittedly not much flavor, so the sweet and sour pickled beets and a tangy tofu vinaigrette helped the dish shine. A sprinkling of crispy leeks kept the dish from being too healthy.
A heartier vegetarian plate is the maitake mushroom ($14), served with small cubes of dashi gelée, frisée, and poached egg. There's even a rich egg vinaigrette that might seem like overkill on top of creamy egg yolk, but the dressing has a touch of citrus to brighten it up. Our server recommended mixing everything up before digging in, so I happily "tossed" the salad before spooning a lion's share onto my plate. Sometimes I'm not the best at sharing.
To finish off a meal on a hot summer day, nothing could be better than hibiscus soft serve ($6.25). The light ice cream is none too sweet, with a sour tamarind sauce helping to bring out the subtle hibiscus flavors. Crumbles of sansho pepper cookie are the sweetest component of the dessert. There could have been a little more cookie crunch for my taste, but I'd definitely order this again, after trying the two other dessert options—mochi with strawberry and chocolate and tofu doughnuts.