The Vegetarian Option

Reviews of vegetarian dishes.

The Vegetarian Option: Yusho

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[Photograph: Amber Gibson]

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.

These dishes, along with the tempura vegetables, gobo root and grilled tofu will please any vegetarian diner and make for a satisfying meal.

Yusho

2853 N Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 (map)
773-904-8558
yusho-chicago.com

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