A Sandwich a Day: Beef Tsukune Slider at Sumi Robata Bar

A Sandwich a Day

Reviews of Chicago sandwiches.


[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I know the Beef Tsukune Slider ($4) at Sumi Robata Bar looks small and manageable, but it's been a long time since I've encountered such full-throttled and unhinged snack. Traditionally, tsukane is like a Japanese meatball that is formed onto a skewer and (most likely) grilled. Usually the meat is chicken, but Sumi goes with beef, which the restaurant then cooks over its impressive bincho-fueled grill. The still skewered meat is then wrapped in a delicate steamed bun and smeared with miso mustard.

Thanks to the crisp exterior and the shape, the tsukune reminded me less of a meatball and more of a sausage. In fact, after one bite I was suddenly in Wisconsin chowing down on one of the messiest, juiciest, and most flavorful bratwursts known to man. The seasonings aren't exactly the same, but everything I love about a fresh off the grill brat is here, albeit in a concise little package. Just so you know, this is a serious compliment. Though everything I tried at Sumi was excellent (including incredible beef tongue) I can imagine ordering up a few these and calling it a night. Oh, just remember to remove the skewer before digging in.

Sumi Robata Bar

702 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map)