Red snapper
Red snapper Photo: Jeff Marini


Restaurants like Kyoten don’t come along often. Otto Phan’s groundbreaking (and groundbreakingly pricey) sushi bar is the result of painstaking orchestration — years of rigorous training, obsessive sourcing of ingredients — combined with sheer force of ego. It adds up to a remarkable $220 omakase dinner, during which 20 different creations are placed before you by the chef, one dainty marble slab at a time. Roughly 15 of those creations are amazing. The rest are still better than any other sushi in Chicago.

A veteran of Masa and Nobu in New York, Phan works in the Edomae tradition, marinating and curing top-flight fish imported from Japan and Norway and elevating flavors by using a rare large-grain rice he discovered at a restaurant in Fukuoka. A standout is the amadai: He fries the tilefish — scales and all — until it has the texture of pork cracklings and tops it with caviar and mascarpone so that the whole thing becomes creamy-crispy and rich as hell.

The bar seats only eight, so while you’re giving the chef your undivided attention, he’s also lending you his. A meal here offers a fascinating, intimate glimpse of an artist at work.