By melding the concept of a Japanese pub with its Chicago locale, Chizakaya, which is set to open this July in the Lakeview neighborhood, will re-introduce and expand upon the izakaya trend by harmonizing Japanese cuisine with contemporary philosophies and techniques, including the importance of using local, seasonal and sustainable resources.
Conceived and operated by a top-flight team of restaurant industry stars, Chizakaya is the brainchild of chef/owner Harold Jurado, a Chicago native who has cooked in such renowned restaurants as Sunda, Charlie Trotter’s (Chicago and Las Vegas) and Japonais (Chicago, New York and Las Vegas); chef de cuisine Robert Rubba, who most recently cooked at Chicago’s acclaimed L20, as well as Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas and Gordon Ramsay at the London Hotel in New York; and general manager Orville Diaz, a veteran of such high-profile Chicago restaurants as Sunda, Coobah and Marche.
Jurado and Rubba view themselves among a new breed of chefs who place the significance of local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients above all else in the kitchen. Their driving force and source of inspiration is seasonal ingredients from local farms and co-ops, as well as free-range livestock and responsibly sourced fish. Jurado and Rubba aim to showcase these products to their fullest in their intelligent and informed approach to cuisine.
Chizakaya’s menu will be comprised of small plates designed for communal dining. The dishes will be indicative of the true Japanese pub experience, including such staples as yakitori (grilled chicken, meat and vegetables served on skewers), hamachi kama (hamachi collar served with ponzu, daikon and ginger) and noodle and rice combinations. Signature items will include okashi (snacks) such as black edamame (soybeans that have been matured on the stalk, eliciting a sweeter flavor), oshinko (pickled seasonal vegetables) and a distinct egg waffle dessert that is eaten by pulling it apart with one’s hands. A stand-out on Chizakaya’s opening menu will be a sashimi made with Dietzler Farms calves liver. Many items, including tofu, ice creams and sorbets, will be made daily in house. Jurado and Rubba will rotate menu items as the seasons dictate.
Chizakaya’s cocktail program is an integral part of the restaurant, demonstrating the Japanese idea of washoku, which means “harmony of food.” This guiding inspiration refers to a blending of not only the restaurant’s cuisine, but also the drinks, service, dining experience and the overall presence of a Japanese restaurant in the Midwest. An extensive showcase of sake, shochu, Japanese and American whiskeys and beers, along with a menu of 10 specialty drinks mixed tableside with house made juices and syrups, will elevate the izakaya idea into a unique nightlife concept for Chicago. Chizakaya plans to introduce sake, shochu and whiskey tastings in the near future.
Chizakaya’s subtle, Asian-inspired surroundings, featuring environmentally savvy cork floors, decorative shutters covering the front windows and sophisticated blond wood tables, will be punctuated by two vibrant ceiling murals dominating the space. The left side of the dining room will feature a striking geisha figure holding a robe that mimics the ocean waves of a traditional Japanese fabric, while the right side will be dominated by a fierce samurai warrior wielding a sword that gives way to a cherry tree in full blossom. An exposed kitchen will serve as the hub and the focal point of the restaurant, removing the division between chef and guest. The front dining room will seat 46 people at tables and at the bar, while a separate back room, complete with two communal tables for 10 guests each along with counter seating, will accommodate another 25 people.
Chizakaya will be open Monday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m.
*Complete dining menus and liquor offerings will be provided in the opening release
3056 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
Coming soon: www.chizakaya.com