1805 West Division Street
Date of Last Visit: Saturday, November 21, 2010
The Victim: Me
The Damage: $30.20 + tip.
The Background: I was having one of those days. One of those immensely productive but impossible days where all of a sudden, you look at the clock and it’s 4 pm and you haven’t had lunch yet.
This never happens to me.
But it did the other Saturday. And when faced with these sorts of situations, I choose…I choose sushi.
I chose Bob San because my friends Jen and Kelly raved about it to me recently when I bought my new place here in Chicago and I told them where I lived. Bob San, they told me, is where it’s at.
Lucky for me, Bob San had a spot at the sushi bar available at the ungodly hour of 5:30 pm. Londoners, are you dying? Yes, in America, we eat that early. I bundled myself up and walked over.
I took my seat at the counter and told the sushi chef that I wanted omakase and would spend up to $30. This seemed about right for a late lunch/early dinner in Chicago, right?
First up was the miso soup and it was a very good variation thereof. The miso paste seemed to be of the red variety and hung alluringly throughout the broth. (How poetic is that? I’ll stop now.) I dropped the spoon after clearing the bowl of tofu and drank the rest.
And now, the omakase. With the exception of the silvery Spanish mackerel, this was all pretty standard stuff. I was disappointed. I know chef’s choice means chef’s choice. But I do think the chef’s choice should be more than salmon and and tuna and one little sliver of Spanish mackerel. This is terrible, but to me, it says you do all your shopping at Costco. I can get tuna and salmon anywhere. The Spanish mackerel was nice, but not with that deep creamily oily flavor that I was hoping for.
The noted Chicago food critic Steve Dolinsky gave Bob San’s omakase a miss and now I understand why.
I had mentioned to the chef that I was a huge unagi fan. I know I know…unagi is COOKED. It’s not raw. But there’s something about eel done Japanese style that has always, well, made me happy. This little tidbit was exactly how unagi should be. I have no complaints there. (Doesn’t the unagi look like he’s talking to the roll? Sorry to call him a he. He just seemed like a he.)
And the roll? The House Crunch? It was shrimp tempura, spicy mayo, eel sauce, with crunchy tempura crumbs. (See what I mean about Americans and their rolls?) And it was kind of a mess. I mean, I’m sure some people would like it. People who like to have their mouth full of A LOT of stuff. But it was just a crunchy mess and not anywhere near as light but yet still luscious as Pham’s crunchy tuna roll.
The Verdict: I left Bob San’s with $35 fewer dollars than I entered with. And with no firm intention to return in the near future. I mean, their food is fine. Many people would like it. But I think there are many more Japanese restaurants in Chicago that deserve my attention before a return visit does.