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Seadog Sushi, Wicker Park

by Krista

Seadog SushiSeadog Sushi
1500 West Division
Chicago

Date of Last Visit: Wednesday, December 29th, 2010. Monday, January 3, 2011.

The Victim: Me

The Damage: $35 plus tip the first time, $38 plus tip the second time.

The Background:  I was catching up on local food news when I saw this very brief mention on Metromix. A new sushi place? By my El stop? And a holiday weekend to boot? Why haven’t I read about this place before? Not on Grub Street. Not on Eater. Not on The Stew. (Makes me wonder if those guys ever leave their cubicles.) Interesting…and worth stopping into on the way home.

And then I went over here to Yelp. And you know, I got a little suspicious. I am always suspicious when people are vague in their reviews, and the first few here aren’t especially specific and they all seem so overly enthusiastically gushing. But no bother. I’m still hungry, and this is new and Japanese.

The Entrance: I am there very early. 5:15 pm maybe? I’m the first person there. I ask to sit at the sushi bar and they tell me I’m the first person to sit at the sushi bar even! They’ve been open since December 15th.

The Funny Part: I tell the chef I’d like omakase. Chef says, “We don’t do that here.” Um, surely they can just throw together a bunch of stuff and call it omakase? I clarify what I’m after…”$35. Your choice, Chef.” Ahhh…. the light dawns. Chef says yes and after my very basic  omakase at Bob San (and the main reason why I’m opting for $35 instead of $30), I wonder what Chef will come up with.

Salmon Carpaccio with Jalapeno

Salmon Carpaccio with Jalapeno

I was pleasantly surprised with the start of my meal. Four slices of salmon, drizzled with a little citrus and topped with jalapeno slices and a bit of fried shallots. An unexpected and promising start, for sure.

Sashimi and Nigri

Sashimi and Nigri at Seadog

A generous plate of sashimi and nigri was up next and I had to wonder…how could one person possibly eat all that ginger? The best on this plate was what Chef called super white tuna, a very milky fish, both in taste and consistency. This turned out to be escolar, and boy is this Wikipedia entry interesting. I thought the sashimi on my plate was sliced a bit on the fat side, but Seadog still gets points for presentation. Note portion size difference between here and Bob San. I’m not saying bigger is better at all–we know nothing about the suppliers the two restaurants use or the quality of the fish–I’m just saying “look.”

White Flounder Tempura

White Flounder Tempura

At Bob San, I’d have just enough money left over for some miso soup at this point, but not at Seadog. Chef slipped me a little flounder tempura. This was one of my favorite bites, wrapped in a shiso leaf and topped with spicy mayo. (There seems to be a lot of spicy mayo at Seadog.)

The Tower

The Tower

But at Seadog, I wasn’t done yet. Chef delivered not one but TWO rolls. The Tower was chock full of asparagus tempura, white fish, smoked salmon, and cream cheese. It was served with a ginger yogurt sauce that was nice, but not my thing. All in all though, this was fun to look at and enjoyable.

Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll

Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll

But really, the Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll this was my favorite of the bunch. Call me a purist. (I’m only being slightly ironic when I say this.) A little crunch, a little spice. Salmon. Avocado. Nice.

The Service: Service throughout was attentive. Almost too attentive. The staff hovered anxiously nearby as I finished each dish and promptly asked for my verdict before the plate was removed. Talk about feeling put on the spot. “Um….yes. It was good. Very good. Yes.”

Some More Background: Chef O was the executive chef at Coast for many years. His brother is now at the helm there, while O has branched out on his own to Seadog. The restaurant boasts a huge parking lot in the back which is O is VERY happy about. If you don’t live in the neighborhood, you’ll be happy too.

The Verdict: I think I got a little extra special treatment at Seadog my first visit. With the benefit of hindsight, my Bob San experience was just much more traditional than what I got at Seadog. It almost doesn’t seem fair to compare Seadog and Bob San. I mean, there’s no way that all that food came in at $35. But I left full and happy and glad that Seadog is in my ‘hood. In fact, I was so glad that to make up for me thinking I had Monday January 3rd off–only to learn at 5 pm on Sunday that I didn’t have Monday off–I took myself back to Seadog for dinner on Monday and tried a few more rolls. (I’d recommend the Triple S, which is sweet potato, salmon, and a spicy sauce, but I’d skip The Volcano, which just had too much going on for me.)

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4 comments

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cara @ City Girl Chicago January 5, 2011 - 2:22 pm

Nice review ~ it sounds like you happened upon a great neighborhood gem. And I’m appreciative of their parking lot, it will make it even easier for me to visit 🙂

Jim January 9, 2011 - 8:11 pm

really nice pictures, and nice write up. I enjoy your writing style as well.

Betty Jo January 31, 2011 - 9:19 pm

Absolute 5-Star rating. The customer service was gracious and sincere.
I had an unexpectedly wonderful time here. From being warmly greeted by the floor staff to being welcomed by the chefs at the Sushi Bar, I felt like a special guest. When they found out is was my first visit they gave me a few extra morsels to sample. Everything I tasted was fantastic and new. Just the right amount everything so fresh. There’s a difference between fresh and canned carrots in a stir fry. The enthusiasm and pride of the kitchen staff was a rare and welcome treat in this town.

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